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Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 review

Solid

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.

As far as major technical changes are concerned, the game has kept them to a minimum. X-Factor can now be activated in the air, which will surely allow combo fiends, or even Combofiend himself, to get extra creative with aerial combos. The other change affects the aerial exchange move, changing the properties depending on which direction you press when hitting the opponent with it. Pressing up does additional damage, down gives you a full bar of meter and pressing either left or right removes one bar of your opponent's meter.

This adds more technical value to the aerial exchange system, especially in the case of Dark Phoenix teams that rely on having 5 bars of meter. It also means that players can more accurately predict which direction their opponent will go for when using the attack, allowing them to counter it more effectively instead of just wildly wiggling the stick while mashing S. Of course, wild mashing will always be a part of the game, especially now that certain super moves do additional damage when you mash buttons during the animation.

If all this focus on the new characters and game mechanics seems a little specific, well that’s because the new characters are really 90% of UMVC3’s content. Galactus Mode is also included for players with original MVC3 save data, though you'll have to unlock it if you don't have the save data. It's a neat little aside that has you controlling Galactus vs teams of super heroes, but he doesn't really control well, and you'll find yourself just spamming a few of his more powerful moves to cheese the AI to death. It's a cool idea worth noodling with once or twice, but don't expect it to add a whole new level of replayability to the game. The free Heroes and Heralds DLC wasn't available for review so we can't speak on that, albeit it is additional single player content, and it appears to be more substantial than Galactus Mode.

As is our most common complaint, the additional missions and trials are aimed squarely at intermediate and better players, and make no effort to explain what's actually happening. UMVC3 is a very fast game with a lot of stuff going on, and making sense of it all can be very difficult for new players. While the fighting game community does a great job making their own tutorials and help for players, we'd love to see Capcom start doing it more themselves. Not everyone wants to play a game with their laptop open on their lap.

The biggest critique of course, comes down to the fact that this game is only available as a disc release. Capcom has said that some of what was in Ultimate was originally planned for DLC, but because of the Tōhoku earthquake development schedules were interrupted and everything was unified in this one release. While the amount of DLC here would certainly cost over $40 if Capcom had made it available individually, there's almost nothing here for players looking for single player content. If you enjoy figuring out new combos and mission modes, you'll certainly have hours of new gameplay, but the sole addition of the Galactus mode really isn't enough to justify a purchase for casual players.

Die-hard players, on the other hand, will certainly get $40 worth of fun out of this release. 12 new characters is huge, and exploring the interplay between them and the tweaked returning cast will provide hours of fun. The much improved online interface is also a huge draw for competitive players. Ultimately (pun intended), the vast majority of UMVC3's new features will only really be appreciated by dedicated players, and for them it's a must have, for everyone else though, it's a harder sell.  

More Info

Available Platforms: PS Vita, PS3, Xbox 360
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
ESRB Rating:
Teen

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16 comments

  • Pwnz0r3d - November 15, 2011 4:04 p.m.

    I got the special edition of the original; fuck that. The least they could do was offer these characters as a DLC pack for $6-$7.
  • Taxtm - November 14, 2011 10:49 p.m.

    I went and paid for the original WHY, now? Seriously, if it was DLC, that would kinda tick me off, because it would make me think they released a game without finishing it, for full price, only to charge more in steps later for the completed game. THIS though, just kinda seemed like a big ol' middle finger to me. "Oh! You bought the original game? Guess what! Now we're releasing a NEW game that's basically the same thing, but with 12 new characters that you don't have access to unless you fork over even MORE money!" Yeah, yeah, I know that's not exactly the case, and maybe I'm overreacting to it, but seriously, not even a year later, and this happens? It just feels wrong to me, like they're taking advantage of the consumers.
  • GrandmasterB-Funk - November 14, 2011 10:34 p.m.

    i can see what grim is saying, as an MVC3 fan, i can't wait to play this however people who weren't that big fans of the first or haven't played it before won't find anything better, so a 7 is justifiable.
  • minimaxi - November 14, 2011 7:42 p.m.

    it's a love-hate relationship. I'm getting this game because my friend gets it. personally I think the game is built upon a broken foundation but somehow have that total chaotic charm that keeps fans hooked. maybe, just maybe, it's the fighting game equivalent of CoD, right down to the milking part.
  • scope7 - November 14, 2011 7:07 p.m.

    ...ahem, people say the fixes justify the release. so if it's half done the first time around it's a replacement that SHOULD'VE BEEN THERE, LIKE SPECTATOR MODE! yes i'm buying but with contempt because it's fun. oh and it's lack of accessibility isn't a basis for judgement otherwise every game that isn't calculus should get a ten
  • emeraldphoenix7 - November 14, 2011 5:58 p.m.

    YOOOOOOOO MAAAAAAAAAHVEL!
  • shawksta - November 14, 2011 5:46 p.m.

    All I know, is that everyone got upgraded in some way, the system upgraded in ways to hugely balance the game, and the 12 new characters bring new gameplay styles to the fray. To me, This is an upgrade that the original desperatly needed to keep the fighter up to date, the new types of Gameplay for the newcomers(ESPECIALLY Phoenix Wright) brings more variety, the game got more balanced and have brang new tricks to the new characters as you said and H&H mode is merely an awesome extra that i will no doubt get addicted to. Im buying it,Trading the original for an even lesser price. and Great review Grimm.
  • Claymore65 - November 14, 2011 5:18 p.m.

    Despite the fact I loved Marvel vs. Capcom 2, I never got 3. I never had the cash. Well, I guess I'm kind of lucky I can now get it with Pheonix Wright in it. Oh well, I'll probably get it around christmas time since I already have Skyrim...
  • darthelmet117 - November 14, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    I got the MVC3 around the time when nothing was really coming out, even though I did have a lot of fun playing it with my little brother this one dosn't have enough new content to jusitfy the price tag for me. I guess I will just have to wait unitl the super ultimate version releases with Devon.
  • bigwill1221 - November 14, 2011 3:36 p.m.

    Waiting for super ultimate MVC
  • DevonOO7 - November 14, 2011 3:36 p.m.

    i traded in mu MvC 3 to get this and only had to pay $15.
  • Darkhawk - November 14, 2011 3:21 p.m.

    Normally, I side with the anti-Capcom DLC troops, but in this case I think you've made a big mistake. As you say yourself, this many new characters and tweaks is more than enough to justify a new discount disc release. A game like this should really be scored on its merits, and this upgrade merits at least the same score as its predecessor, if not higher. Gamesradar was far more reasonable in the review of Super Street Fighter IV, and God Forbid anyone takes marks off SSFII Turbo (which, I might remind you, was the 5th version of that game released in the space of 3 years!) Very disappointing, Mr. Grimm.
  • n00b - November 14, 2011 3:17 p.m.

    i put over 100 hours into marvel vs capcom 3 with out any online and i think i just barely scratched the surface of what the game has to offer. cant wait for 200 more hours
  • DarkTone - November 14, 2011 3:03 p.m.

    So glad YOU reviewed this, Grimm.
  • Overlord153 - November 14, 2011 2:24 p.m.

    My raging consumer side is telling me don't buy this you already bought the Special edition of MvC3, capcom are just some greedy bastards. My fighting game fan is telling WTF are you waiting go rob Walmart to get the game. I'll see which side wins tomorrow.
  • SgtThunderDick - November 14, 2011 2:13 p.m.

    SNICHES GET STICHES,THC your local lawyer today

Showing 1-16 of 16 comments

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