For a long time, whenever a new fighting game has come along, I’ve always said the same stupid thing: “it’s good, but I wouldn’t get enough play time to justify buying it.” I mention this because as a child I would play fighting games for hours on end, regardless of how good I was at actually playing them. Then I got my hands on Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 (hereinafter, UMvC3), and I realised – we are a spoiled bunch of gamers, really. What with rentals and piracy—not to mention used titles—I think we’ve devalued some of these Triple-A titles… Because UMvC3 is AWESOME, and three months ago I played it for an hour or so on PS3 and sent it back where it came from with a resounding ‘meh’.
What a mistake that was. I like fighting games. I have for a long time, and the Marvel vs Capcom series has always been one of my favourites—if only for its fast-paced action and ridiculous combos. So I was happy enough to receive UMvC3 for PlayStation Vita, and was looking forward to spending some time with it. What did I find? Simply by putting time into the game, playing through all of the characters, and trying out some different game modes, I was hooked. I felt like I was a kid again.
Technically, it’s quite an achievement, and it really shows the capabilities of the Vita. Capcom has managed to cram (virtually) the whole PS3 title into a handheld and it’s really impressive. It looks fantastic, for one. There is just so much detail in the characters and backgrounds that I found myself marvelling at them from time to time. That said, some of the special moves (fireballs and the like) were clearly low-res in comparison, but you know what? If that was necessary to achieve the framerate, then I welcome it.
Beyond that, it just plays so damned well—yes, even with the Vita’s tiny buttons and thumbstick. It’s fast, it’s furious, and there’s very little slowdown. With 48 characters to choose from, all of which are unlocked from the get go, there is just so much to troll through, and it’s more than welcome. Of course, the traditional style of fighting game playthrough—fight a number of dudes, beat the boss, shout hooray—is a little sour when you’ve got such terrible cutscenes on completion, and here they’re at their worst (one or two still images with text). Still, the storyline in fighting games tends to be secondary to the gameplay, so it’s not a major issue. Especially considering the inclusion of the “Heroes and Heralds” mode…
This mode puts you on the side of either the Heralds, who are trying to destroy the world on behalf of Galactus, and the Heroes, who are trying to save the world. Players are able to select the level they want to play from a small map, each of which takes 10-15 matches to beat (in increasing difficulty), so it’s a more engrossing campaign than a standard arcade playthrough. Further, each win is awarded a card, and players can create a 3-card deck to bring into battle, which augments standard capabilities. It really adds a different component to the fighting genre, and makes the whole game that little bit more involved—even if it’s all so difficult to understand at first.
This last point really demonstrates the weakest component of this title—training. There is none. Of course, there’s a training room, where you can practice your moves, but there’s no initial training showing you the basics—I guess you’re just expected to know what’s going down at this stage, but it’s really not enough support for the average gamer who may not play so many fighting games. Each title tends to differ from others in multiple ways, so there really should be some form of basic training to kick things off…
Nevertheless, it doesn’t take TOO long to get on top of (although I found the instruction manual added that little bit of extra info that I was after), and there’s just so much fun to be had that I can’t let it get me down. In fact, I enjoyed UMvC3 so much that I’m really keen on trying out the Vita version of another fighting franchise; however, I will be defeated by our censors on that one, unfortunately…
UMvC3 also includes a Touch mode, giving players touch-based controls, but all that is required is to frequently poke your opponent – the game chooses the most appropriate attack, and you virtually win every match without any effort. A strange inclusion, and one I was fine to ignore. Multiplayer works very well – minimal lag was noticeable, if any (multiplayer only via wifi). That said, every other player was much better than me, so I didn’t find multiplayer as enjoyable as the other modes – particularly Heroes and Heralds (which, incidentally, can also be played online).
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 was the first game in many, many years to give me a blister on my thumb, and if that’s not praise, then I don’t know what is. If you have the means and an interest in fighting games, you should get your hands on this title (would help to own a Vita, too).
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