Marvel vs Capcom 3 is a celebration of everything that makes videogames great. It's a celebration of Capcom's heritage. Of comic books and super heroes. Of laser beams, celestial brush strokes and grenade launchers. A celebration of button mashing and obscene complexity of control. Of combos, juggling and finishing moves. But most of all, it's a celebration of everything that makes the very word 'videogame' excite our minds. And it's time you joined the party.
Like all the best games, the premise is simple. It's a tag-team fighting game where Marvel superheroes are teaming up with Capcom's finest in three vs three… gigafights. Yes, I'm coining that phrase now. At heart, it's like Street Fighter IV – same 3D characters/2D gameplay, same online/offline play and the same level of sublime presentation. But if the gameplay dial was already on 10, it's now so far past '11', it's broken off and now even a whisper is delivered like a scream.
Above: Sorry, didn't quite catch that. Can you say it again, please?
I know a few months back I wrote an article bemoaning the fact the art style is different in comparison to Marvel vs Capcom 2. I admit, I still wish there was a little less black and a bit more neon. But having now spent hours with it in action, I understand the very good reason for the change.
In 2000, Capcom had perfected the art of making 2D fighting games, and the Marvel license at the time allowed them to make the most explosive Capcom fighting game we'd ever seen (or indeed would see for the next decade). But it was just a case of drawing Hulk-shaped sprites – it was, at heart, just a reskin for any other Capcom fighter. Amplified 100-fold, sure, but still clearly a Capcom fighting game. This time, things are different. This is a Marvel game.
I don't mean Marvel made it. Underneath the comic book stylings, the Capcom gameplay remains perfectly intact. What I'm talking about is the way everything is like a Marvel Comic. Sure, there's the inevitable cel-shading and speech bubbles in the post-fight screens, but it's more than that. The Capcom characters have been given a Marvel makeover so convincing, I'm sure any of them could be given their own graphic novel using nothing but stills from the game:
Above: Should've gone Shoryuken. Bubbles aside, these are all in-game screenshots I took just now
It's honestly like comic books have come to life and their inhabitants are stamping around inside the TV. I just thank Jeebus that they haven't worked out how to get out of the screen. For now, they're still trapped in there, puppets to Capcom's MT Framework engine.
But while the biggest pull is undoubtedly the superb visual overload, it would soon wear thin if there was a bad game underneath it. So, I'll apologise for spending an entire page gushing over how incredible it looks, and get into the meat of the most OTT combat system the gaming world has ever seen.