Review: 'Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3' (Xbox 360)

You never knew you wanted to pit Rocket Raccoon against Phoenix Wright until you could.

Let's get the obvious out of the way: if, for whatever reason, February's release of the corporate mash-up fighting game Marvel vs. Capcom didn't do it for you, this almost "v3.5" release won't do much to change your opinion of the series. It's still the same wildly colorful series with the relatively simple combat, accompanied by a huge (and swelling) roster of popular and obscure characters from both lines. It bears repeating one more time: this is effectively the game you played earlier this year, albeit with some balancing and tweaks, a dozen new characters, and updated UI, so if none of this grabs your interest as of this writing, just enjoy the screenshots and the video and move along.

Bringing Back What Works, Adding Some Dudes

Anyway, oh man, you guys, fighting as Ghost Rider is kind of cool. Actually, if you could take one thing from this review, messing around with the 12 new characters in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is really the best part of the update. Each one controls differently from the others in tangible ways, so you never feel like Hawkeye is simply Taskmaster with a couple of added moves and such. And accompanying the new characters are, of course, new stages and new songs for each fighter, so Capcom didn't skimp on integrating the new characters into the game.

The new roster includes:

Nova

Rocket Raccoon

Iron Fist

Doctor Strange

Ghost Rider

Hawkeye

Frank West

Vergil

Phoenix Wright

Nemesis

Firebrand

Strider

So the new characters are terrific and the fighting is still as frenzied as ever. The designers at Capcom have also done some fine tuning with character balancing and, but in my few hours with the game on and offline, I still haven't quite yet seen the impact among the existing roster. Also, the "X-Factor" tactic has been modified, with a shorter duration now where your health regenerates and your attacks do more damage. This should be a relief for those of us who went up against hardcore players who were able to exploit this last-ditch tactic to dominate in the last minutes of a match.

There's also a new free DLC "Heroes and Heralds" mode that should be released soon (it wasn't available at the time of this writing, but could very well be as you read this) that allows you to add a sort of card battle game that allows you to modify your fighters with special abilities like temporary invincibility, etc. This mode isn't at all about providing a balanced fighter, but instead figuring out the best strategy for your lineup. The netcode seems a little more stable as getting in and out of fights was less of a chore (although the best method for finding online opponents remains going into Arcade Mode and setting Fight Request to "Yes"). Additionally, online lobbies now include a Spectator mode while you wait for the next fight. Finally, there's a mode where you can play through the Arcade mode as uber unfair boss Galactus which is fun for one cathartic go-through if you simply want to beat the tar out of a bunch of CPU opponents.

Still Some Missed Opportunities

Sidestepping the fact that I'm still not a huge fan of Capcom releasing disc-based versions of essentially the same game twice in one year as they did with Super Street Fighter 4, I actually don't have many gripes about this release. I do think the online modes should take a page from Mortal Kombat and even FPS titles and look at including more ways to compete with other players. Perhaps "Heroes and Heralds" will be that new thing that differentiates the game online, and simply leveling the complaint that a fighting game doesn't let you do more than fight online is a little unfair.

The one real concern that remains for me as a painfully bad 2D fighter (I was always from the Tekken school, honestly) is that the recent crop of Capcom fighters don't do a great job of teaching you how to play them. The manual, Training, and Mission Modes are good for putting a fine point on moves and combos, but what about deploying X-Factor or teaching the best use of dashing and air juggles? I would love it if the game walked me through the particulars of Advancing Guard. Again, this is from someone who takes a lot longer to pick up the nuances of 2D fighters, so the omission of these kinds of modes in fighters that can get terribly technical leaves me at an advantage for a longer time when I jump online.

Still, It's Worth Your Time

But what am I going to do? Fault Capcom for omitting something they never promised? Philosophical questions fighting game tutorials aside, I'm still really into Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 even if I'm not particularly good at it (with no real proficiency in sight). If you didn't pick up the first pass of the game earlier this year, or simply want to keep up with what Capcom has cooking here in the update, I can't think of a bigger mistake than skipping this release.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 Cinematic Trailer

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