Review: Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 (PS3 & PS Vita)Posted: May 18, 2012
Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, which came out for the PS3 and 360 back in November and has been recently rereleased for the PS Vita, is one of the most fun fighting games out there. It is your typical 2D fighter with a huge cast of Marvel and Capcom characters, many (/most) poorly and hilariously voice-acted, pitted against each other in 3-on-3 matches. It isn’t precisely Marvel vs. Capcom; you could make a team of Ghost Rider, Ryu, and Chris Redfield, or an Avengers-themed team of the Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man, or a Capcom Devil Must Cry supergroup of Dante, Trish, and Virgil — really, it’s up to your imagination (and the character roster which is capped at 50). The characters range from the obviously-well known (Marvel’s Spiderman and Capcom’s Ryu) to the horribly obscure (like Marvel’s Rocket Raccoon and Capcom’s Arthur).
Each character has his or her own moveset and they all function differently in terms of speed and power and so on. Some have very unique abilities: if you cap out your Hyper Combo meter (a meter which builds as you take damage and dish damage which allows for hyper combos) as The Phoenix and then die, you lose your meter but she respawns as the Dark Phoenix. If you collect three pieces of evidence as Phoenix Wright you can enter Turnabout Mode which, like in the Phoenix Wright series itself, let’s you turn the tables and wreck your opponent. These unique abilities are just that, however: they’re unique to specific characters and only a few characters have them in the first place, generally as a supplement to that character in the first place. The focus of the game is pretty much on two things: teamwork and hypercombos.
Teamwork is essential to UMvC3, but the interesting thing is that you’re your entire team. You need to manage your teammates and know exactly when to bring them in and how to use them. In order to win, you need to master three characters and you need to master using them together. One of the common complaints with the game is that you can’t just take your three favourite characters and throw them together; some characters just don’t work as well with others. I’m sure some would argue this point, but it is mostly true. Thus, building a perfect trio is paramount to winning your fights.
In combat, you can bring in your teammates for a quick hit with the tap of a shoulder button. You first pick their assist moves in character selection; Chris, for example, can use an assist called “Gunfire”, so when you tap his assist button he’ll pop onto the stage and fire off 8 rounds from his SMG. He has another one where he takes two long swings at the opponent, too. So picking the right ability and using it at the right time is key. You can’t block immediately after getting hit and the same goes for your enemy: if you knock them down and time an assist, you can then lengthen the window of time where they can’t block, rack up some more damage, and re-engage. You can also use what’s called an Aerial Assist where you knock your enemy into the air, hit him a few times, and then sub out with one of your partners who can then repeat the same (you can swap to each character this way). Also, after launching into a hyper combo, you can quickly “cancel” it and sub in one of your partners, allowing you to chain three hyper combos… and if you really want to rack up the damage, you can use a Crossover Combination where all three of your characters use their combos in sync. If you land the hit, it’s pretty deadly.
Hyper combos really are the key to winning. You charge your Hyper Combo gauge by attacking and getting hit and can spend it either through snap backs (where you land an attack that forces your enemy to switch characters, which can help you to finish off a character that got subbed out) or through Hyper Combos. They vary from character to character, but they’re all pretty much powerful, multi-hit attacks that are easy to chain into. They rack up the damage and, assuming you land at least the first hit, guarantee you a bunch of free hits. They’re all activated with various presses on the directional pad or thumbstick followed by pressing two — any two — attack buttons together.
UMvC3 has a simplistic control scheme that actually really works well: you have your light, medium, heavy, and special (which generally either launch your enemy up or force him down from the air) attacks. Each of these can be used on their own or in combination to activate special attacks. Using Chris again, you can go quarter-circle forward (“quarter-circle forward” is done by pressing down, down-forward, and forward on the d-pad) and press the light attack to fire his shotgun (big, close-range spread) or press the medium attack button to fire his submachine gun (8 rapid-fire long range rounds) or press the heavy attack button to fire his pistol (one very powerful shot that knocks the enemy down). Each character has several special attacks but when one considers how they can be modified (as above, with Chris), you can see that there are many, many attacks for each and every occasion. What begins as “simple” controls turns into something very, very complex. To Capcom’s credit, they do have the “Simple” mode, which allows you to button mash hyper combos to your heart’s content (and on the Vita, the even more simplistic “Touch” mode where you just poke at your enemy until you launch hyper combos at him), but obviously the room for growth there caps out pretty quickly.
The game’s only real issue, I think, is it’s accessibility. You can play and screw around for a bit but until you just about master your character set, you’re pretty much S.O.L. It took me awhile to put together my group, which involved starting with a core team and adjusting it as I saw fit. An hour or two of gameplay just to get a team together where I can be counted on to win most battles. Working on beating the arcade mode with every character, I’ve found myself hopelessly outmatched with teams I’ve put together half-randomly; it can be really, really hard. Thinking I was tough, I went online, only to be schooled. My latest match I managed to land the first twenty or so hits and half-decimate my opponent’s first character… only to be thoroughly trounced. It can be really tough to get decent at this game and even harder to get good. And that is a major piss-off.
Talking about the software specifically, UMvC3 on the Vita and PS3 are the same game (the only real difference being loadtimes — great on the PS3, not so great on the Vita). The graphics are crisp and clear on the Vita and the controls work perfectly; it really is a good showcase of what the Vita is capable of. Capcom also threw in an option into both games called Ultimate Controller where — if you own UMvC3 on both consoles — you can use your Vita in lieu of a PS3 controller. The UC works just like a Sixaxis because many of the features of the same (except, of course, the Vita lacks secondary trigger buttons) but it also makes use of the touchscreen: you can map four abilities (hypercombos, regular attacks, whatever) to each of four quadrants on the screen (you can also activate X-Factor by hitting the middle of the screen).
Online mode is very hit or miss, especially on the Vita, I’ve found. I’ve had trouble finding a match even when I’ve had all the search conditions set to “Any” and have been unable to find a match. It’ll often take a dozen or so searches to track one down. It’s pretty annoying and I find it hard to believe that it’s just me and one other person on the planet playing UMvC3 online, looking for matches. That said, the game does have a “Fight Request” feature where you can play Arcade Mode and respond to challenges, essentially, that are issued to you. It is, in theory, pretty cool but I haven’t been challenged yet.
All in all, UMvC3 is a pretty cool game. It’s full of fanservice, which is nice, and lets you play as your favourite characters. Capcom and Marvel are huge universes so there’s bound to be a character or three between the two that you’ll enjoy and, if there isn’t, well… you probably don’t like video games as it is. UMvC3 is also a blast to play in offline versus mode with friends, which is really the best way to experience it (this is not an option on the Vita, obviously), but I’ve put many hours into my Vita-version, finding it to be a helpful distraction and finding it pretty easy to squeeze in a match or two on the bus or whatever (if, of course, you account for loadtimes).