Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes Review

By Matt Keil - Posted Jul 30, 2009

While it may not be the most technical or balanced game in the Capcom canon, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is certainly a fan favorite. After many years of requests (and no doubt some impressive license-wrangling on Capcom's part), U.S. gamers can finally get their MvC2 on against online opponents.

The Pros
  • Classic gameplay intact
  • Upgraded visuals
  • Smooth online play
The Cons
  • Barebones presentation

While it may not be the most technical or balanced game in the Capcom canon, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is certainly a fan favorite. After many years of requests (and no doubt some impressive license-wrangling on Capcom’s part), U.S. gamers can finally get their MvC2 on against online opponents.

Battle of the century

Marvel vs. Capcom 2For the handful of people who have never played it, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is a “dream match” fighting competition between Capcom’s characters and the Marvel Universe. Each player chooses a team of three characters, who can be swapped in and out of play at any time. Off-screen team members can additionally be called in for an assist attack, or used to beef up a super attack if there’s enough super meter available. Unlike the more standard fighting titles like Street Fighter II, the Versus Series is all about frenetic action and over the top screen-filling super attacks. It’s not perfectly balanced, and probably doesn’t need to be. If you’re playing MvC2 to win every time, you’re doing it wrong. Just pick out three of the whopping 56 playable characters and have fun smacking your opponent. If you’re picking Magneto, Storm and Sentinel every time, lighten up already.

Each player chooses a team of three characters, who can be swapped in and out of play at any time. Off-screen team members can additionally be called in for an assist attack, or used to beef up a super attack if there’s enough super meter available.

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It’s still thinking

Marvel Vs. Capcom 2The downloadable version of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is pretty much a straight-up port of the Dreamcast version. All the idiosyncrasies have been preserved, although major bugs like Gambit getting stuck in his super move animation seem to be fixed. To adapt the game to modern televisions, the backgrounds have been extended out to 16:9 ratios, filling the screen but not actually expanding the gameplay area. For the most part it’s not noticeable, but some animations and moves get cut off at the 4:3 boundary, which looks a bit weird. Still, it’s better than having black bars on the sides of the screen, and doesn’t actually impact play in any way. You can also choose between two new display modes for the character sprites, which smooths them out for HD displays. If that looks too weird, there’s always the unaltered classic mode that leaves them exactly as you remember from ten years ago (or, in the case of Morrigan, 15 years ago…somebody redraw the poor girl already).

Online play is similar to Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix’s, also developed by Backbone. Matches take place in “winner stays” lobbies that can hold up to six players at a time. Extensive win/loss stats are kept, and you can spectate matches between other players in your lobby while you wait. As was the case with HD Remix, online play is smooth and does a convincing job of emulating a side-by-side match. That’s especially impressive here, considering how fast Marvel vs. Capcom 2 moves. Outside of slight stuttering at the beginning of some matches, I never felt like I was out of synch with my opponents. It’s truly impressive how well Capcom has managed to implement online play into their current batch of fighting game releases, both new and old.

Take the ride

Marvel Vs. Capcom 2The only real thing to be wary of is that the game is a competitive title only. If you’re not going to be playing this extensively against friends on the couch or opponents online, this version of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is not for you. A single player won’t find much to do, as only the standard solo modes are included and there’s nothing to unlock, as everyone and their numerous colors are available from the start. It’s all very sensible considering the nature of the game, but it should still be noted for players expecting a story mode on the level of a Guilty Gear or BlazBlue.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is unquestionably one of the high points of Capcom’s golden era of fighting games. It’s accessible, vibrant to look at even today, and online play alone makes it a must buy. Sure beats paying $80 on eBay for the PlayStation 2 version.