It's easy to see why it's so cream-worthy. Marvel superheroes/villains, and all your favourite Capcom characters, from Street Fighter and Resident Evil to Devil May Cry and even Megaman, all beating the crap out of each other in 3 person tag teams. It's pretty awesome. When you fire up the game you're treated to the customary epic cutscene where everyone's fighting each other across urban sprawls and various other landscapes, which instantly whets your appetite for the potential crossovers you can create. Deadpool and Dante shooting it out, Wolverine dodging Ryu's hadouken, you can make some spectacular fighting action from the massive roster of characters in the game.
The first thing I did was open up the "Training" mode so I could actually get to grips with what I was doing. But, like all others before it, Marvel Vs. Capcom pretty much assumes you know what you're doing, and the training consists of having your opponent stand very still while you unleash whatever hell you can think of upon them. No on screen prompts, no steady progression through moves so you can learn what to do, a tiny bit disappointing to the newcomer. But no worries, I read through the instruction manual instead, which got me to grips with the different move styles quite quickly. But I never read instruction manuals. There's something very unnatural about having to pause a game to read a book telling you how to play it. It makes everything feel juddery and forced, and makes you feel a bit stupid for needing a reference guide in order to have a good time.
The real saving grace in this game to newbies is actually the "Mission" mode, which gives you 10 different missions to complete for each character. I wondered what kind of variety they could give you in a game where the sole purpose is to knock someone out, but it turns out this is the real training mode in a clever disguise. The missions work their way up from performing basic special moves to full blown combos, giving you prompts each step of the way to let you know if you're doing it right, and the ability to pause the game and see exactly which buttons you need to press to make it all come together. After a good hour or so of working through this mode I actually had a very good understanding of how to work through air combos, hyper moves and various other techniques, a refreshing feeling that i've never had before in a fighting game. So I decided to have a shot at the "Arcade" mode.
Pretty standard to be honest, there's nothing new here. You work through several "stages", each of which is just a fight against three different opponents. But, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? The real saving grace in this game is the wealth of different characters and moves you can use to make each match pretty unique.
I didn't try too much of a variety of characters in my short time playing, and I mostly stuck with the Marvel side, 'cause superheroes are cool and my past experiences have made me not too fond of the Street Fighter guys. The one character I really settled on was Deadpool, 'cause he's totally awesome. The characterisation employed in this game is spot on, just like they were pulled straight from the comics. Deadpool shouts "Yo mama!" when he smacks someone in the face, and constantly breaks the fourth wall, telling you that you pushed the wrong button when he gets KO'd, or grabbing the camera and asking why you didn't film his victory. I don't have any screen capture shizz for my TV, but this YouTube video will suffice:
Yes, his ultimate move is to grab the bars from the screen and batter his opponent with them. Sweeeet. Plus when he walks backwards, he moonwalks. I'm sure you can see why I didn't stray away from Deadpool too much, but I did have some fun pairing him up with Spiderman and Iron Man for some of the team combos you can use. Pulling the triggers at any time during the fight can switch you to a different character, allowing your others to heal, or just switching up the combat if one character isn't working too well for you. You can also just tap the triggers to send one of your team mates in for an attack. Calling Spiderman in for a web swing kick while you unleash a Unibeam is a pretty special thing to see. But when you've kicked enough ass to fill your hyper gauge, you can finally unleash all hell and use all three of your characters special moves at once, completely obliterating the competition.
After playing through the arcade and some more missions, I decided to take the fight online. This is really where your skills are tested, and sadly I got my ass handed to me. Even people of the same rank as me who hadn't played online yet either seemed to have gained God like gaming skills in the couple of days that they've had this game. But i've come to expect that of playing online over the last few years. There's always gonna be someone who can utterly wipe the floor with you. But i'm okay with that, i'm no rage quitter. It's all about the experience, not your statistics.
This game is good. There's a lot of fun to be had from all the different teams and face offs you can make, but another one of my grudges with fighting games is that in the end there's not a whole lot of variation. You just beat each other up, over and over again. A lot of gamers will dig it, those who can spend several hours a day playing online Call of Duty, or performing raid after raid in World of Warcraft, but I seem to get bored too easily with playing the same type of thing over and over again. However, the time i've spent with this game is easily some of the most enjoyable I have had with the genre.
Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is out tomorrow in the UK, and can be found in all good gaming shops (and probably some crappy ones too)
My rating: 4/5