Format: PS3, Xbox 360
Featuring a 36-strong roster of Marvel characters (think Wolverine, Iron Man and Hulk) and Capcom mainstays (Street Fighter’s Ryu, Resident Evil’s Chris Redfield and Viewtiful Joe’s well… Viewtiful Joe) there’s certainly enough here to please fans of both universes.
After taking your pick of three fighters you’re confronted with such a maelstrom of special moves and spectacular effects that even seasoned Street Fighter players will baulk when it comes to following the action. The fact that your teams fighters can be tagged in and out at will or called in to lend temporary assistance, only serving to heighten the confusion.
Don’t get me wrong, this is still an awesome spectacle to behold, replete with gorgeous characters and beautiful backdrops, but it’s almost better to be a spectator so you can take it all in. A shame as the imagination on show here is a mixture of the breathtaking (check out the space battle going on in the background of the SHIELD Helicarrier), through to the downright comical: see Ghouls and Ghosts’ Arthur left in his underwear after having his armour ripped to shreds for example.
Street Fighter veterans won’t be too happy with the developer’s decision to distil attacks down to an (in my opinion) overly simplified combination of low, medium and high strengths either. Simpler yes, but in one broad stroke managing to kill off a good deal of the nuance and subtle strategy that made Street Fighter 4 (and those before it) so addictive.
And yes, before you say, I know that the Marvel vs. Capcom series isn’t Street Fighter and has historically walked a separate path where its controls are concerned; I’m just pointing out that it all feels a little closed-in and inaccessible despite Capcom’s best efforts to the contrary. Perhaps the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise just isn’t for me, it might well be you think SSF4 is too slow.
The tagging system only adds to the general confusion too, I played this game’s predecessor a hell of a lot in arcades and never felt that the tagging system was obtrusive; in this third iteration though fighters might as well be on yo-yo strings, so often are they called into the fray by human players and AI alike.
Now, I’m definitely one for style over substance where there’s a call for it, but the frequency of which yet another super-attack is incoming here borders on the comical; so much so that I found myself becoming blind to the bold, brash animations of even the most brilliantly animated attack, the rate at which your special bar increases doesn’t much help matters either.
I’ve mentioned so many negative aspects that you might assume I hate the game, thing is I really like it; it’s just it doesn’t quite live up to my massive expectations. The fighting is great fun at its core, air combos are awesome, as is pulling off chain after chain of specials and you’ll even acclimatise to the frenetic pace eventually. Even the X-Factor, a survival power you can activate when on death’s door, works quite well to shake up otherwise one-sided affairs.
A quick shout to multiplayer too which is clearly where you’ll be spending the majority of your time if you’ve any sense at all. Locally the pulsating action will get the party started (yes, that’s my idea of a party, deal with it) with it’s wholesale madness while online I’ve experienced nothing but smooth, lag free bouts up to now. That’s on the 360 and before mostly everyone else had the game so let us know if you experience any issues.
What we have here then is a great beat-em-up, full of worthy intention which comes annoyingly unstuck by its very ambition. You can actually hear the development team screaming to push it further, to increase its pace, to make it flashier but, while it’s a pleasure to see that developers have had so much fun, somewhere along the way they overstepped the mark just that little bit too much.
I’d still say this is worth picking up, particularly for all you beat-em-up fanatics out there, but in my opinion it could have been even better. Oh and the end boss, Galactus, doesn’t really have much to fight back with; a shame.