Reviewed: December 2, 2011
Released: November 15, 2011
There comes a time in every Capcom fighting game's life when it starts to go through some changes. It gets new stages, fighters where it had no fighters before, and finally gets an updated version released. For Marvel Versus Capcom 3, it came nine months after the initial release. Though it was fast in coming, between innovative new characters, the Heroes and Heralds mode, and interesting redesigns of stages from the original Marvel Versus Capcom 3, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is well worth the cost for anyone late to the game, and a decent buy for anyone who's looking to breathe new life into the original game.|
The biggest highlight of UMvC3 is undoubtedly the new characters. The focus is mostly on more obscure or supporting characters, and each one has some pretty fascinating characteristics that make them feel more like Aksys characters than Capcom characters, in the best of ways. Whether it's Frank West's leveling-up mechanic, where he gains more powerful attacks by photographing opponents or Phoenix Wright collecting evidence to be used as zoning attacks, or to power up into his turnabout mode.
On the Marvel side, Dr. Strange is a projectile-based character, whose abilities can alter his projectiles or control the arena, while Rocket Raccoon is a tiny, quick character who sets up traps and is able to avoid a fair number of attacks rather easily. Each of the twelve has something cool to offer, both for fans of their respective franchises and for people just looking for cool new ways to fight.
Coming up after that is the Heroes and Heralds mode, where players can collect cards that represent characters from the Marvel and Capcom universe who aren't present in the game, and use them to customize their team with powers like speed boosts, invisibility, and duplicate characters on the same team. A neat touch is that the hero team uses their usual skins, while the Herald team, infused by the power of Galactus, is all silvery. It's a pretty terrific way to shake things up when you're taking a break from the regular game.
Besides that, there's a bunch of remixes of old stages, with highlights including Metro City as a Sentinel-patrolled police state, a greyscale Ghouls and Goblins level that evokes Gargoyle's Quest, and a version of the Tricell labs after a bioweapon breakout as well as Galactus Mode, which lets players take control of Galactus to fight teams of three computer-controlled heroes. While it's fun to fight as the overpowered boss for once, it doesn't have as much staying power as the rest of the game. There's also numerous balance tweaks that only the really hardcore players will probably notice, but that's hardly a highlight for most people.
Graphically, the game is crisp and well-presented. The translation of comic characters from the pages of their comics to the game is terrific all around, with Dr. Strange standing out as a highlight. The costumes and alternate skins are a terrific well of references, ranging from Ryu's Ken skin to M.O.D.O.K.'s Elvis costume from Nextwave. The backgrounds are all incredibly detailed, from the floats and businesses in the New York stage to the Mad Gear gangsters defacing a statue of Mike Hagar in the Metro City stage.
If the game has any weak point, it's the soundtrack. While a lot of it is well-made, the now-traditional 'Take you for a ride' character select song gets grating pretty quickly, and while many characters sound just as I imagined them, some are standouts in terms of having really strange stuff going on. For instance, M.O.D.O.K sounds more like an anime protagonist than the freakish, twisted voice that I'd expect from a head-thing. Still, the sound effects are very solid, the majority of voice clips are appropriate and well-done, and all told, it hits more than it misses.
While I can't presume to be an expert on fighting games, I do have a pretty strong grasp on what I like. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3's selection and variety of characters, depth of knowledge and reference to its source material, and the addition of Galactus and Heroes and Heralds mode gives a shot in the arm to a game that was pretty great to begin with, and it's well worth the money to anyone eager to check out the new cast.