Thanks to Marvel vs Capcom 2 we finally know who’d win in a fight between The Hulk and Jill Valentine (it was Jill, with her ability to summon a bloody great Tyrant). We’ve also managed to settle that age-old debate about the relative merits of pre- and post-adamantium Wolverine, and make Captain America beat up a small girl. More so than any other fighting game, MvC2 is about the character roster – the vast, near-impeccable line-up composed of superheroes, fighting champions and 8-bit video game legends, all punching the hell out of each other for no good reason and gleefully ignoring established canon.
All 56 characters are unlocked from the start, and if you didn’t play the title on its original release – or the sluggish PS2 port two years later – your first few hours with MvC2 will likely be an orgy of experimentation, making the most random combinations of combatants you can think of until you find your ideal three-member team. More than just an empty gimmick implemented to exploit the huge character line-up, the tag-team mechanics at the core allow for a more strategic approach to battling. You can effectively cover all bases too. It’s quick and easy to swap fighters to match the situation. Many attacks work well in combination. Our fave is binding fighters in place with Spider-Man’s web before switching to the slow-yet-powerful Juggernaut and unleashing a deadly close-quarters quake. Satisfying stuff.
The trouble is, it’s one hell of a demanding game. You have to keep track of six different fighters, at a blistering pace, as more fireworks clutter the sky than at Chinese New Year. While the game does present you with tactical possibilities, unless you’ve been blessed with bionic thumbs and a mechanical eye you’ll rarely get the chance to take advantage of them. And although Capcom created the game it feels like Marvel is the more dominant force here. Superheroes have been exaggerated to almost ludicrous extremes, smothering the subtlety and grace of the average Street Fighter character under a hailstorm of lasers, electricity and giant robots. It’s a joy to behold, but can prove distracting.
This port hasn’t been tarted up to the degree of Street Fighter II’s recent HD update, but as the original sprite work is so great it didn’t really need quite the same care. Of more note is the implementation of SF: HD’s net-code and online features, meaning this should run smoothly as the HD Remix experience. Marvel vs Capcom 2 is still the ideal title for anyone who sees fighting games as more than the sum of their scientific, carefully balanced parts (2D fighting purists). Some people just want to pit Spider-Man against Megaman, and they’re the ones who will get most out of this hyperactive fighter.
Jul 29, 2009