Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Back for another round

December 15, 2011

For the past 10 years, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 remained one of the most popular games among the fighting game community, even through a resurgence of the fighting game genre that included Soul Calibur IV, Street Fighter IV, BlazBlue and Tekken 6. Earlier this year, fans got the refresh they wanted with the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which sported a cast of 38 characters, most of them new blood for the franchise.

Let’s face it, a game where you can have Dante, Amaterasu and Albert Wesker face off against Thor, Wolverine and Doctor Doom, all icons from their respective games and comics, doesn’t come along every day. For all the fun times though, there were crucial features missing and unbalances that kept MvC3 from becoming one of the premier competitive fighting games. This is where Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 comes into the picture.

Adding in 12 new characters, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 delivers in crucial areas where the original was lacking. There’s a better sense of balance in UMvC3: characters like Wolverine, Phoenix and Akuma are still strong contenders, but they aren’t as easily exploitable as they were before. All the newcomers fill in extra play styles that weren’t in the original game. Vergil’s high-risk-high-reward normals, Hawkeye’s incredily effective zoning and arrow types and Phoenix Wright and Frank West’s unorthodox fighting styles and tricks are only a small part of the cast’s varied set of abilities. The character metagame is much more diverse, as it’s much easier to make a solid team out of three of your favorite characters rather than force yourself to use someone you don’t like. There are still a few more kinks to be worked out here and there, but it wouldn’t be a good fighting game if the players couldn’t put in time to figure out who are the best characters and the cheapest strategies.

Another big improvement from the original title is the game’s online component. While the netcode itself still doesn’t match other fighting games in Capcom’s catalog, it’s much more stable and user-friendly, with little details like the much-requested spectator mode and not getting kicked back to the main menu after every match or failed matchmaking attempt. The lobby system got an upgrade in the form of player matches, which are one-on-one lobbies that work just like the offline versus mode, letting both players do instant rematches or character changes without going back to the lobby screen and character select after every match. The only glaring omission is the lack of a replay feature, which is pretty disappointing due to the chaotic and surprising nature of the game. I’ve had quite a few matches that I sure wish I could have saved just to show to a few friends.

If there’s one area where the game loses its luster, it’s the single-player component. The only new addition to single player is Galactus Mode, where, unsurprisingly, you can play as Galactus. The endings for beating arcade mode serve as okay fan service, but not much else. Mission mode has been reworked to be more universal in nature, with every character’s missions showing you basic ground and air combos, but it’s still missing useful features like being able to see the mission being performed without needing to look at an online resource, something BlazBlue and even Street Fighter IV did beforehand. Outside of Arcade, Mission and Training modes, there is nothing else to do in single player, which is pretty bad if you aren’t inclined to play the game online.

If you liked Marvel vs. Capcom 3 or passed on it for whatever reason, the reduced price point makes Ultimate MvC3 a good bargain and a great time to jump into the series. It’s fast-paced, crazy and exciting nature can take a bit of getting used to, but it is a blast to play whether with friends, against other skilled players or just seeing your favorite characters duke it out in ways you wouldn’t normally see them. In addition, Capcom is soon releasing a free DLC mode for the game, titled Heroes vs Heralds, which looks to introduce some crazy game-altering mechanics to both online and single player in the form of cards that completely change game properties and give any character abilities like triple jumps, invisibility, super armor, parries and super armor. The future of MvC3 is still uncertain, whether it’s another title update or DLC, but well, if you’ve been looking forward to playing the series, now is the time to do so.

Pros: Massive and incredibly-varied character roster, Improved online components make it better to play with friends
Cons: Lackluster single-player component, still missing some key features, Hsien-Ko is still horrible

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.