I really want to love Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. The game features an incredibly robust and diverse cast of characters, gorgeous graphics, slick animations and fluid, easy-to-grasp-hard-to-master gameplay. It’s also the only game currently available where I can perform the moonwalk as Deadpool, or play as M.O.D.O.K., or do both at the same time! However, there is one thing that really holds Marvel vs. Capcom 3 back: the game is built upon the notion that you will be taking the experience online, that the single player “Arcade” mode is simply for brushing up on your skills and unlocking new characters. But if you’re not a die-hard Marvel vs. Capcom fan — or fighting genre fan, for that matter — then multiplayer is going to feel like an insurmountable challenge that isn’t worth the effort to become merely adequate at the experience.
Now before you bust out the pitchfork and torch and start power-walking towards where I live (Delaware, come find me), let me just say that that’s pretty much what I anticipated when I cracked open Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The franchise has always been about the multiplayer. But I was hoping Capcom would surprise me and deliver some sort of worthwhile single player experience. Sure, I can go through and beat the final boss, Galactus, with each of the game’s 30+ characters, but all I get as a reward are really lame endings made up of two comic panels and some poorly written, cliche-ridden text overlays. It’s a bummer there’s no real incentive to finish the game with all the characters. The juice isn’t worth the squeeze, if you will. The single player Arcade mode also isn’t very inspired when it comes to structure. There are no cinematics or storyboards stringing together each fight, and the throw-down with Galactus at the end lacks any sort of unique, memorable qualities, outside cheap attacks that are more likely to frustrate than enthrall.
But guess what? We just got most noticeable blemish of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 out of the way. So now that that’s done, we can focus on the positive qualities of the game, of which there are many. Firstly, the game’s graphical style and in-game presentation are incredible. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a jaw-droppingly beautiful product. I want to specifically make mention of the game’s vibrant colors that really make Marvel vs. Capcom 3 stand out. Furthermore, when you introduce slick animations to the formula, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 becomes a true visual stunner. Little touches to the characters also help round out the fantastic in-game presentation, whether it’s Zero’s bursting death animation or Deadpool’s fourth-wall breaking humor.
One of the things I like most about Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the game’s easy to pick up controls and gameplay. I don’t consider myself a hardcore fighting game fan. I dabble, but I’m not obsessed. The same can be said for a friend of mine who I played the game with. With that in mind, consider it an achievement on Capcom’s part for making a fighting game where two newcomers can look like Olympic-level fighters squaring off to anyone who enters the room to watch. Shit was bananas. There were Hyper Combos and seizure-inducing lights flashing all over the place. That’s how simple the controls of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 are to pick up. You can fool people into believing you’re a master when really all you’re doing is button mashing.
On top of the easy to pick up controls, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 features “simple” controls that further, well… simplify the experience for newcomers. With Simple mode you can basically press one button over and over and perform the most intense moves and combos in the MvC repertoire. For instance, air juggling — one of the hardest moves to perform in previous MvC titles — becomes incredibly easy with Simple mode. All you need to do is get next to your opponent and press “Up” and “A” to toss them into the air, then continuously hammer on the “A” button to watch the magic happen.
Now that’s not to say the hardcore fighting crowd should be turned off by this new, easy to approach gameplay. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 still has a deep combat system waiting beneath the surface, ready to be cracked and mastered by the folks who plan to dump 60+ hours into the game. But personally, I’m happy that Capcom decided to develop a fighting game that is mindful of the wide range of people who will be interested in this game. I mean, honestly, the mere fact that Wolverine is present proves Capcom wants to hit the widest demographic possible. That’s just science. And with this new combat system that caters to newcomers and diehards alike, I think Capcom hit the nail right on the head.
Now what happens when you take the fight online? Well, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to sit around waiting in a lobby for quite some time, only to get into a match and get your ass kicked within two minutes. Like I mentioned in the introduction paragraph, the majority of the crowd you’ll find online are the die-hard Marvel vs. Capcom fans, the ones that have played Marvel vs. Capcom 2 until the day Marvel vs. Capcom 3 released. It’s a sad fact inexperienced players are going to have to come to terms with: you will struggle with this game online for quite some time. Only after you’ve pumped in countless hours — whether with the Normal or Simple controls — will you start to see your patience and practice pay off in wins. Your enjoyment of Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s multiplayer is going to depend on your dedication to getting better. If you don’t mind getting your ass handed to you over and over again, acknowledging your mistakes and correcting them, then you’ll be able to find worth in Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s online experience. For everyone else, I fear the steep entry-level learning curve is going to quickly frustrate and turn people away.
In the end, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is pretty much what I expected: a better looking version of Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Capcom has put forth great strides to incorporate newcomers with the game’s easy to pick up controls, but without giving them something worthwhile in single player mode, many will question why they purchased the game if they find multiplayer too hard to break into. But for fans of this series, or fighting game fans in general, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is sure to please based off the unanimously praised foundation this game is built upon.