Once you've got used to the reduced character roster, the DLC annoyances and the ridiculous complexity of the best combos, there's only one thing that really threatens to spoil the party. The game is wildly chaotic. Even if you were to take out the tag team mechanic and just play a simple 1v1 match, you'd still spend half the time trying to stem the flow of liquid brain as it dribbles out of your ears. It's mental.
Add in the assist moves and team specials and you're left with an explosion of colour, pyrotechnics and screen-filling projectile attacks that is nothing less than stupendous. But you could easily argue that it's out of control and it may well be too much for your eyes to follow, at which point you might start to lose interest. Might.
Attack! Attack! Attack!
How chaotic are we talking? Is there time to do a proper combo? Is there ever an instance where you can successfully block an attack and use advancing guard to turn the tables? Is there ever time to consider the state of your opponent's reserve players, weigh up how many special bars you have remaining and then use one to force out a struggling character? The answers are all 'yes', but only once you know what you're doing. And I fear that's likely to be the stumbling point for a lot of people.
Above: After a while you start to make sense of it. For instance, the thing to do here is switch in Felicia, pronto
Subsequently, longevity may well be an issue if you can't be bothered to do anything more than mash the buttons like a rat trying to trigger screen-filling food pellets. But it's certainly not an issue if you make the effort to learn even its most basic of technical nuances. Even just working out that your reserve characters will recover any 'red' health simply by being out of the battle is a game-changer. Managing your team effectively between bouts of otherwise skill-less button mashing will increase your success rate by at least 40%, especially if your opponent is a button masher too.
The reason MvC3 still works despite this is because it's one of those rare games that anyone can enjoy. The hardcore fan can spend his time in the Challenge room, perfecting insane multiple-hit combos and working out exactly when he should switch players to get the most out of any situation. Online gamers will never get bored of spamming Dormammu's vortex against unsuspecting newbies. The less fanatical fighting game enthusiast will enjoy learning their favourite characters' special moves, building their own team and discovering all of the Ultra animations. Button mashers will enjoy the spectacle that comes with every match.
In fact, the game will probably be the biggest hit with spectators because it's just a joy to watch. I've slowed down some moments here so you can actually see the phenomenal detail that's included at 60 gorgeous frames per second, because you simply won't have time to take it all in while you're playing.
So what should you think of MvC3? A colleague who also reviewed the game told me that he's not keen on MvC3's focus on offense, saying he much preferred Super Street Fighter IV's chess-like battle of minds. I see his point and I know a lot of people will share his view. But, to take that metaphor to its logical conclusion, if Super Street Fighter IV is a game of chess, Marvel vs Capcom 3 has the most effective tactic:
Above: Problem solved
Is it better than…
Super Street Fighter IV? No. MvC3 is flashier, wilder, and an even better technical showcase for your console than Capcom's premium fighter with its six-character action and screen-filling special moves. But Super Street Fighter IV has the most balanced, honed gameplay of pretty much any fighter in history. In fact, SSFIV is damn-near perfect... this isn't quite there. But some people will prefer MvC3 because it's just so fun. Heck, get both.
Marvel vs Capcom 2? Yes. Sure, MvC2 is ten years old now, but it's available on current-gen machines in shiny HD and it hasn't aged in the slightest (well, aside from its low-res character sprites). There will always be something special about massive, hand-drawn artwork flying around a TV screen, but MvC3 moves on from that in the best way possible.
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger? Yes, but really the two are aimed at the same audience. Basically, you're choosing between hand-drawn sprites and superb 3D (where MvC3 wins purely by having 60 jaw-dropping animation frames every second, while BlazBlue has clear jumps) and between characters you've known your whole life and some you haven't. Gameplay-wise, both are excellent. Make your decision based on which you think you'll enjoy more. Hint - probably MvC3.
Just for you, Metacritic!
With spectacular comic book presentation, some of the most chaotic action in any game ever and sufficient technical depth to keep even ultra hardcore fight fans happy, this is the impossible - a worthy successor to Marvel vs Capcom 2.
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