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.
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