Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Review (PS3)

I went hands-on with and wrote about a near-final build of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 a scant few weeks ago, but I was still very excited to get my hands on the final version of the game to see how the balance changes, new characters and slight mode additions have effected this lower-priced enhanced release of the original game.

That’s something that needs to be made clear from the word go: this is not an all-new game or anything even approaching it. In terms of the content on offer, I’d argue that this actually contains less new and interesting content than Super Street Fighter IV did. It’s hard to be surprised at that once you realize this game is hitting a mere 9 months after the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3 landed on store shelves.

Frank is very different from the others, and uses weapons from both Dead Rising games

I’m not going to go too deep on the in-game mechanics here because this is for all intents and purposes a large disc-based expansion pack – I’m mostly going to talk about what’s new this time around and if it’s worth the price of entry.

Dropping in at a ‘lower than usual’ price (how much lower depends on where you live, though), Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 adds six new characters on each side, bringing the total roster to 48. If you already own the two DLC characters for the previous game they’ll also pop up in this game to bring the total to 50 – but to be clear, they have to be bought and are not included as part of the disc.

The six extra characters for both Marvel and Capcom offer the bulk of the package, and are thankfully an eclectic and rather interesting bunch. The two stand-outs in terms of feeling really different to other characters both come on the Capcom side and both come from fairly recent Capcom franchises – Dead Rising’s Frank West and Ace Attorney’s Phoenix Wright.

Much has been made of Wright’s appearance, but zombie-battling photojournalist Frank actually took me more by surprise when I picked him up and played him. He brings with him Dead Rising’s photography and level-up mechanic, which works in an interesting way in the Marvel universe.

Frank can be any level from 1 to 5 in a battle, and levels up by taking photos of combos. If you can string together a 20-hit combo and then take a picture of it with Frank with a simple button command while the enemy is still in their ‘getting hit’ animation, you’ll get 20 experience points. A 40 hit combo, meanwhile, would be worth 40 exp. Each of Frank’s levels requires a different amount of exp to reach.

As Frank levels up, the property of all his moves, from his normals to his specials, changes. Dead Rising 2’s combo weapons put in an appearance as he levels up, and new combos become possible. He even unlocks an extra Ultra Combo attack, a really useful anti-air grapple. Once he hits higher levels, Frank goes from being a mediocre character to someone who can be extremely tricky and useful – but getting there might prove hard against a seasoned player.

Phoenix Wright has the same high risk/reward gameplay enhanced to an even higher level, as his game involves playing keep away until he can gather three pieces of evidence while avoiding attacks and then landing an Objection. Once he’s got that objection the music ramps to the familiar court tune from his DS titles and he becomes one of the best characters in the game, but that bonus is short lived. He’s a character it requires practice and patience to use.

Filling out the rest of the Marvel side are some other characters with interesting gimmicks. Most similar to the current cast are Strider and Vergil, who are both relatively quick characters that will be favourites with people who like Wolverine or Dante, while Resident Evil 3’s Nemesis gives you one more massive tank character to put into that Hulk/Sentinel team.

The final slot is filled by Firebrand, an often-forgotten boss from Ghosts & Goblins that looks a bit like Metroid’s Ridley, is blessed with the power of flight. He’s not too hot on the ground, but in the air he controls the space like no other character in the game can.

Marvel picks up some nice additions, too. Iron Fist is a flamboyantly dressed martial arts expert hero, while Hawkeye takes concepts explored with Taskmaster’s bow and arrow and makes them carry an entire character. Nova seems fairly run-of the mill, and Doctor Strange has a magical book, floats around and has some really cool-looking Hyper Combo moves, but I find the final two more interesting.

In Galactus mode, you’re massive and unstoppable. It does get a bit boring as a result

Rocket Raccoon is a hilariously voiced sentient raccoon who carries a variety of weaponry, from gigantic bear traps to Gatling guns twice his size and, incredibly, a Hyper Combo that includes an air strike. He’s small, struggles to get in and stay in and has a fairly low damage output but also has insane combo potential. Wizards in the fighting game community have already figured out how to use all 5 hyper combo bars in one combo with him, instantly turning him deadly.

Ghost Rider is interesting because of his reach. Armed with a massive chain, the flaming-skulled biker can hit out at your opponent from just about anywhere on the screen. He also has a Hyper which involves him running over the enemy with his flaming motorcycle, which instantly makes him pretty cool.

While there are some CHARACTERS I personally would’ve liked to have seen and there are a lot of people crying about a lack of Mega Man, I think Capcom did a great job of rounding out the cast with a bunch of characters who add to the overall shape of the game and its balance. The curve balls in the way Phoenix Wright and Frank West play could have larger long-term implications for the game when it’s played competitively, too.

That’s actually the bulk of Ultimate Marvel’s new content, though some other additions and tweaks round out its value proposition. The existing characters have been balanced and in a few cases given all-new moves which should give the game a new lease of life competitively, while X Factor has been nerfed somewhat while still remaining a core gameplay mechanic.

‘Galactus mode’ lets you take control of the game’s ridiculously over-powered boss in a series of five fights against the CPU and is a fun addition that you’ll probably try once and never use again.

A selection of ‘new’ stages is also included, though the word new is a little objective here – these are almost entirely the original stages re-tweaked and edited for an ‘alternative’ version. Some are more extreme than others, but there is more variety, and the game at long last picks ‘Random’ by default when playing multiplayer.

The biggest changes outside the added characters and balance come in the periphery, though. The game has a sleeker looking HUD which is much improved and much clearer, but the best changes of all come to the online experience. Finding a match is now much more successful and easy (though bizarrely less easy than Super Street Fighter IV still) and there’s at long last a spectator mode that lets up to six players play together online in a ‘Winner stays on’ setup with the other four players able to watch the match in progress.

Believe it or not, that’s pretty much all there is. There’s going to be a free post-launch DLC update called ‘Heroes and Heralds’ for the game, but that wasn’t part of this review and as such isn’t factored into the score – but keep that in mind when deciding if you should purchase.

This is an expansion as opposed to a fully-fledged new release, and it does feel that way – but it does come at a cheaper price. As a fan of Marvel vs. Capcom and fighting games in general I’m happy with the changes made with this version, though I can also see why buying it will be a bitter pill for some who picked up the original earlier this year.

The bread-and-butter is competitive fighting, as ever.

That’s the story of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3: This is actually the game that the original should’ve been. If you’ve not played MVC3 or traded it in and want another fix, this is absolutely the best route to go. If you bought the original, how much do you love MVC? If you want more, go get it – the newcomers are great fun.

Best Game Moment: Landing Phoenix Wright’s Level 3 Hyper Combo and convicting my opponent online for the first time. SATISFYING.