MvC3 is a game I enjoyed quite a bit, but I can’t really talk about it without first offering an apology. I originally intended to do a multi-part retrospective of the Marvel vs. Capcom games at the start of the year, covering 1, 2, 3, and maybe some of the Marvel Super Heroes or X-Men vs. Street Fighter games as a bonus (don’t hold me to that.) The retrospective was going to be a celebration of the series as we head into the release of MvC Infinite… but at the time nobody knew when that game was coming out, which is why I wanted to talk about the joys of playing MvC3 in 2017 but have waited on it for so long. Right now, fans of these vs. fighters are looking forward to MvC Infinite arriving on their doormat, and so it feels like an appropriate time to round off my coverage of the main numbered trilogy.
MvC3 in 2017 – a new look
Before we get around to talking about MvC3 in 2017, let’s start by talking about MvC3 in 2010. Specifically, early April 2010, when rumours are surfacing across various websites, hinting that there may be an announcement of a new Marvel vs. Capcom game. Let’s not forget that MvC2 had only been released on PSN and Xbox Live Arcade in 2009, and Street Fighter IV was also leading the revival of the beat ’em up genre, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring back another classic Capcom fighter. Even so, MvC3 would be facing the same dilemma that Street Fighter IV successfully overcome – the little issue of ditching 2D sprites and coming up with a new 3D look for the characters that suited the style of Marvel vs. Capcom. The game used an updated version of the MT Framework engine – a game engine that had previously helped create various third-person action and adventure games, but something that was seldom used for 2D (plane) 1v1 fighters at the time. Whether or not they succeeded in creating a fresh new look for Marvel vs. Capcom is open to opinion – I know a lot of people love the work that goes into animating the characters of the best 2D sprite-based beat ’em ups, and I’ll probably choose that over polygons most of the time. However, modern 3D fighters have come a long way since the likes of Virtua Fighter and Tekken 1, and playing MvC3 in 2017 is still a lot of fun and looks great onscreen. It’s just the kind of superficial aesthetic quality to draw casual onlookers in before beating them over the head with the myriad systems that come with each Marvel vs. Capcom game.
MvC3 in 2017 – press the buttons
I think one of the most interesting things about Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is that it builds on the ridiculous excess of its predecessor. I know this sounds like the most obvious thing in the world to say – of course a sequel takes the core tenets of what’s gone before and expands upon them – but in MvC2 the ridiculously flashy combos that went on forever and decimated lifebars still felt like an arcane ritual that few players could actually invoke with their own hands. Here, in MvC3, it feels like the game’s modus operandi was to take that flashy excess and make it a part of everybody’s experience. That’s not to say that people will have an easier time playing the third game, but the onscreen action feels a lot more bombastic a lot sooner. Certainly, as I’ve gone through the games whilst writing these retrospectives I’ve found that playing MvC3 in 2017 immediately feels satisfying and fun – I kind of missed out on the competitive scene for the games, but back when I was regularly playing Ultimate MvC3 on Vita I managed a few random wins amongst my various losses… and I’ve had a great time whilst doing it. In earlier games it feels more like you have to work a little harder to get that satisfying feedback loop – press the buttons, see the cool thing, be motivated to press the buttons more. In MvC3, everything looks great and even someone who knows nothing about the series can appreciate the over-the-top spectacle of an MvC3 match.
Unlike Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 wasn’t repackaged for consoles quite so many times. With SFIV you had Super, Arcade Edition, the 2012 update, Ultra… Perhaps Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was patched a few times for balancing, but there wasn’t the same kind of extravagant repackaging seen in the SFIV series. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was the “main” update to the game, adding 12 new characters, a host of tweaks to existing characters, changes to gameplay features, new stages and new gameplay modes (including the excellent “Heroes and Heralds” mode – a mission-based campaign with dozens of useable “cards” that give perks to characters on your team, from simple boosts such as increased attack power to more exotic abilities such as parrying or invisibility.) Earlier this month I would have said that anyone keen on playing a “current” Marvel fighter should try Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (it’s since been released for PS4, Xbox One and PC)… but MvC Infinite is upon us now.
MvC3 in 2017 – don’t be like me
As I’ve been looking back and collecting my current thoughts of MvC3 in 2017, the main regret I have with the game is the fact that I dropped it hard after Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition came out, and I didn’t really go back to it until I picked up the Vita game in 2012. Some people probably see competitive gaming as something of a commitment – if you pick up a new Street Fighter game, or a new Tekken game, or a new Marvel vs Capcom game, you need to cancel your plans with any other games if you want to get anywhere competitively, otherwise you’ll get left behind. I missed out on the initial wave of hype for the first Marvel vs. Capcom games, and I liked the idea of picking up MvC3 on day one – when plenty of players have a similar amount of experience with the game, and discover techniques and tactics in an environment where I’m not going to be obliterated in every match. Unfortunately, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition represented a whole other part of competitive gaming that I was keen to explore (having enjoyed vanilla SFIV and the Super update) so I ended up committing to that for a while. Despite that, the MvC3 games injected some much-needed life to the series, and hopefully Infinite will bring in more new converts whilst giving existing fans a bunch of new toys to enjoy.