UMVC3 arrives less than a year after the debut of MVC3, and brings with it a roster update of 12 new characters, 8 stages and some tweaks and adjustments to the rest of the game. The update is only available on a disc, it's an essential buy for people that take it seriously, but it's a harder sell for casual players. It’s funny to think about it, but the fighting game business model is only a step removed from sports games at this point.
As with the original, Capcom has done a fantastic job translating the new characters into a fighting game. Every new character is extremely loyal to their source and at the same time remains fun to play. From our experience, each of the new characters shares a few basic gameplay ideas with existing characters, but none of them feel like total rehashes. A quick look at some of our favorites:
Nova is a straightforward character, though he does big damage with relatively simple combos. Hawkeye uses special trap arrows with properties that vary according to which button you push. He may initially seem like Taskmaster jr. because of the arrows, but he plays very differently. Rocket Raccoon continues the proud MVC3 tradition of very small characters that are either weird or hard to use. He has a number of traps that he can place on the stage to control space, though the net trap seems like the only one that's easy to capitalize upon.
Iron Fist is an interesting character who can summon one of 3 chi stances, indicated by his glowing fist color. One increases damage, one defense and the other meter gain. Iron Fist is a beast in close and can do enormous damage once he's in, but he lacks an air dash, has no teleport and generally needs help getting in.
Firebrand is an interesting addition with lots of flight command moves that give him surprising aerial mobility. His regular attacks are quite fast, and he has a super that increases his speed. Vergil has a teleport, speed and long range sword attacks, though he's nowhere near as complicated as Dante.
Dr. Strange is armed with his trademark alliterative spells and and feels like a variation on Dormammu, another of the Cosmic Marvel characters. He has all kinds of slow, weird attacks that can confuse and cross players up, appropriate given his mystic reputation. Frank West feels surprisingly powerful, especially once he's leveled up. Frank levels up by hitting opponents with his camera attack, and once he hits level three, the reach and power of his basic and special moves are drastically increased.
Phoenix Wright really is the biggest success though, and as far as fighting game design goes, he's really like nothing else out there. All of his attacks barely look like attacks as he scrabbles around looking for evidence and scratching his head which is a great fit for a character who's clearly not a warrior in any way. Once you've filled his evidence bar and switched his stance though, he becomes a huge threat as his supercharged accusation finger and special moves do huge damage. Just like in his game, Phoenix starts out weak and unsure of himself, but when it comes time for the Turnabout, he's a beast.