As a fan of fighters I’m not exactly sure what my aversion to Marvel vs Capcom 3 was. When it came out on the consoles I ignored it to the point that I didn’t even rent it (even though I typically employ a 3 or 4 game Gamefly subscription). I own both Marvel vs Capcom 1 and 2 and thought both were pretty ok. I didn’t love them, but I didn’t hate them. And I own many far lesser games. Like, did you know that Battle Fantasia has a digital release on the PSN? Yeah, I think I’m their one sale.
I think part of the issue is that Super Street Fighter 4 (and Street Fighter 3 on the PSN) completely fill any fighting game needs that ever arise, on the multiplayer front (both have pretty barebones single-player). So when Marvel vs Capcom 3 came out I thought “neat, but I’m gonna play Street Fighter” and that was that. Flash forward to the Vita launch and even then I passed over the game figuring that the single player wasn’t going to be all that deep and why would I want to play it online against randoms when I can just play some SF3 online with friends if I get that itch.
I finally broke down about two weeks ago and it’s gone from a game I don’t care about to one of the best launch games on the Vita. It’s a port, yes, and you can play a superior version on the PS3 if you so desire – but I’m not here to argue what you should play where. The fact of the matter is that Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is a very fast, fun and gorgeous fighting game that employs far more chaos that your Street Fighters but still takes a fair bit of skill to excel at.
The graphics absolutely pop off the screen. UMvC employs a very comic-book-esque art style with hard lines and very vibrant colors and I still haven’t seen a screen that does colors like that better than the Vita. And while the graphics are crisp and bright and awesome there isn’t a hint of slowdown, even in the most chaotic moments. This port to the Vita was handled with care – I know Capcom is getting a good amount of flack lately (and deservedly so), but they do deserve props for not just doing a quick and dirty port. The game has some touch screen controls if you want to use them (don’t) and they even have an option to use the vita as controller for the PS3 version. It’s these extra touches that show Capcom cared about this port. One important exclusion however, which explains the lack of pictures in the review, is that Capcom went in and disabled the ability to take screenshots. I have no idea why… the game is gorgeous, people posting pictures of it on message boards across the internet would likely spur some sales. But I digress…
The single player game isn’t the deepest, but it fares better than the recent Street Fighter entries. There’s your typical arcade mode (with the ability to get online challenges as you make your way through it), training and touch (arcade mode, but with touch controls). There’s also a misnamed ‘mission mode’ which sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. Basically it’s a training mode where you have to do a certain combo to move on. It’s a great tool for learning, but I’m not sure you can call it fun for anyone other than those looking to be experts.
Capcom did add a new mode via a patch called “Heroes and Heralds”, and it is a much more fleshed out single player experience. There are 7 stages which you need to take over in a series of fights. Win and you start to move the territory in your favor, lose and it goes the other way. To add to this there is a whole slew of collectible cards that you unlock to augment your powers. So as you get closer to taking over one territory you will start getting higher grade cards, making it easier to finish it off and move on to others. There are also special stages that open up for you take over, but they disappear if you lose a single fight there, which adds to the intensity of those fights. It’s really a great mode and it even has an online component in which you can use the cards you collected to help whichever side you choose win for the week.
And on the subject of online play; it is nearly flawless. Lag in fighting games can be an absolute killer, but UMvC doesn’t have anything to worry about here. All of the online modes you would want (ranked, player, lobby and the aforementioned Heroes vs Heralds) are included. Online is where you will find that chaos tends to rule and the game is maybe not as finely balanced as some would hope, but for the vast majority of players it’s a button mashing good time.
I went into Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom not expecting much and I ended up with one of my favorite games on the system. If you want the very best version you are probably better off going with the PS3 version for a better controller and bigger screen, but if you are in the market for a portable fighter, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom is currently at the top of the Vita heap.