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The new age of heroes are here to kick butt and take names, and after a decade of wondering if this game would ever come into being, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is finally here. If you've never played the series before, let me just inform you this is not your typical fighting game. This is more of an action fighting game, in the sense that the first few matches are going to be chaotic looking. There's characters popping in and out of the screen. There's combos popping up all over the screen. Before you know it, you're dead without even getting a hit in. But with much practice comes great benefits.
Your first choices in the game will be rather to take it offline in arcade mode or training, or take a chance in online battles via ranked or player matches. Offline modes are limited to arcade, training, versus, and a mission mode. Arcade is simply just the basic story mode. You'll pick three characters to battle, all with different abilities to battle round after round until defeating a special boss. When you beat the final boss, you'll unlock a comic strip ending for the character that you were last using. You'll also unlock some badges and titles for your win to show off online. If you're just having a difficult time learning moves, training is there but the mission mode is going to provide much more help in remembering which moves to pull off, if you've never played before. Mission mode is much like the challenge modes of Super Street Fighter IV. You have a training dummy in front of you, and you're mission is to provide a certain attack to it.
Online modes are limited to ranked and player matches. I don't really find this to be a bad thing, but it's apparent some people wanted more modes. You can party up online much like a "quarter mode", which is great, and it's also the downfall of online play. While you're the observer, you never get to watch the battle. You're treated to two player cards of the fighters with the health bars moving up and down during their match. But you'll never get to see the moves they're pulling off, making tournaments seem almost pointless. There's also no replay feature, so getting to watch some of the cool moves you distributed to a player is long-gone. Hopefully Capcom will reintroduce this in a patch in the future, without a DLC cost.
Any player of the series knows that what Marvel vs. Capcom brings to the table is excitement. Everything in a match is fast moving and player momentum is natural in a game like this. You want to keep moving, providing damage, and repeat. In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the player movements have been slowed down, but it feels much more natural to the game atmosphere than ever before.
One of the biggest changes in the series is the removal of the anxiety a new player may feel after his first brawl. This feature is in the controls simply under simple mode, or button mashing mode. With this mode enabled, you literally can just press the same button over and over while moving the stick around to pull off sweet moves. It gives high hopes for beginners to be able to win a match. As amazing as simple mode sounds for beginners, be warned that you're still going to be missing out on a load of other special moves. Simple mode enables easy access to simpler moves, and that's it. Now, this doesn't mean that in simple mode, you're not going to need any skill at all. You'll probably want to focus on blocks to get you ready for the real fighting of the game: the online modes.
Another huge change is the inclusion of X-Factor. This mode enables to you increase your attack power and speed for a limited time, depending on how many characters are still alive in your party. It also resets your animation, giving you access to chain more moves together that would be impossible otherwise. It sounds like a gimmick move, but in the game, it's been quit helpful and I haven't experienced it being overused.
Graphically, this game is well done too. The game feels much like a comic book opening up in front of you. The dark shadows look amazing, and can't simple be justified to how amazing they look in screen shots. The animations are smooth, and you'll rarely see a hick-up in the game. The backgrounds are slightly muted to bring the characters forward a little bit. It almost looks like you're playing a 2D fighting game at times, which isn't a bad thing. They just mastered how well to do the visuals in a sense that it looks old school, yet 3D at the same time.
Let's talk roster for a minute. There's 36 characters to choose from, half from Marvel Comics, and the others from Capcom games. This is a lot less than the roster of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but is that a bad thing? Marvel vs. Capcom 2, while a terrific fighting game, had some huge holes in the balancing because of so many characters. Most of the time, the balancing wasn't from over-powered fighters as much as under powered characters. So Capcom decided to keep the roster a little smaller while fine-tuning each character with pros and cons. This is obviously a good thing, but coming from Capcom, this might have been a way to milk a little more money out of the game. We can expect some DLC to come out shortly after (March has two new characters and a costume pack scheduled for release). What worries me is how much this stuff is going to cost. Capcom knows people will buy it up, so are they going to charge the extra mile because they know this?
However, even though I'm not a fan of overpriced DLC, Capcom is at least listening to the fans on the DLC they want. On Capcom Utility's website, you can actually vote for characters you want to see in the game (hint: Gambit needs to come back, so vote!). I find this to be really neat and I hope they truly listen to their fans. If anything needs DLC in this game I feel they need to add some more maps. The maps are awesome that are already in the game, but there's hardly any to really look at. I wouldn't even mind some recycled maps from the previous installments of the game.
The only other complaint I have is the controls on a standard controller. They work, but they never feel comfortable. The game begs for a fight stick of some sort. I haven't played on the Xbox 360′s D-pad yet, but I can imagine it being atrocious given that the 360′s D-pad isn't exactly the most impressive on the market. If anything, the game is going to hold its own for awhile but it will probably not be in the ranks of classics such as its predecessor. It's all a matter of time to how well this game will rank in the end. With DLC coming out, one can hope that Capcom listens to their fans and keeps the community strong.