After mysteriously disappearing from digital marketplaces in 2013, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is finally back on the PlayStation 4. The game is a rerelease of the 2011 PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 game, which was already an update of the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3. By far, this 2D fighting game’s biggest draw is the crossover between two major franchises, comic book giant Marvel and major games developer Capcom. Yes, you can have Wolverine battle Street Fighter’s Ryu for the fate of the world. Crossovers can be gimmicky, but the MvC series has proven time and again that fun, technical gameplay trumps all in the fighting game world. UMvC3 is no different and quite literally brings the ultimate version of the brand thus far.
UMvC3 sports an impressive 50-character roster, including the free DLC characters Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath. Both Marvel and Capcom were liberal with their characters, allowing more than just the traditional pugilists to enter the fray. For instance, Marvel has fan-favorites Captain America and Iron Man, but also includes the crazier heroes like Deadpool and Rocket Raccoon. Capcom has an array of fighting games to draw from but still lovingly inserts Okami’s Amaterasu, Viewtiful Joe, and even the Ace Attorney himself, Phoenix Wright. The fanservice is off-the-charts, and each character has a moveset worthy of its legacy. The alternate costume DLC is also included with the purchase, which means you can technically play with remodeled costumes of Mega Man X and the Scarlet Spider.
Enough gushing about the roster, though. The gameplay is top-notch, featuring the three-on-three tag-team fighting that the series has become known for. Each player comes in with three fighters, and the match ends when an entire team is defeated. The ability to switch between your fighters at any time is liberating, establishing that you must master three characters to dominate this game. There are combos and assist moves that you can only perform with teammates in the sidelines, and the necessity to keep fighters alive even with a sliver of health makes each round exciting. The high permutations of teams ensure that no fight is the same as players carefully try to achieve synergy between their characters. While there are other great parts about the gameplay, the well-implemented tag-team mechanic helps the game stand out from the pack.
Other significant mechanics include X-Factor and Hyper Combos. The X-Factor is a power-up that buffs up any character’s attributes significantly. It can only be used once per match, and its power level is dependent on how much of your team remains alive, which has the ability to produce salt-inducing comebacks. UMvC3 also features flashy Hyper Combos, special techniques that can only be activated by filling a gauge. As fun as they are, some of them, combined with assists, are overpowered and can lead to nearly unbreakable combos. The imbalance of characters is a larger, overall issue for the game. As hilarious as it is to use Phoenix Wright in battle, he won’t be winning any tournaments against the likes of the powerful Doctor Doom and Morrigan.
Technical players will appreciate the sophisticated gameplay, but button-mashers can also jump in thanks to the simplified controls. Button combos are easier than some more hardcore fighting games, and a “simple” mode streamlines them further. Most fighters should be fine with the “normal” set of controls, but the “simple” mode’s one-button combos help casual players enjoy the silly character matchups.
As far as offline modes go, UMvC3 is severely limited. Aside from a barebones Arcade mode with an unfairly difficult giant boss battle, there is an offline Versus mode that can only be played two-player local and a Mission mode that amounts to an extended combo tutorial. The included Heroes and Heralds DLC mode is a surprisingly fun take on the standard Arcade mode and features a gridlike map and unlockable power-bestowing cards. Building a deck of cards that pay tribute to some of Marvel and Capcom’s other franchises is entertaining and adds to the unique mode. While that’s all you can do offline, this iteration at least includes a digital version of the Marvel vs. Capcom: Official Complete Works artbook and character guide.
Of course, the game’s real value is in its online mode. Purchasing this game may not be worthwhile if you lack PlayStation Network services. Online mode is similar to the original’s, which is fairly good but not perfect. There is occasional lag, but there shouldn’t be too many issues depending on each player’s internet service. Finding opponents and receiving battle requests are relatively easy, but this will only hold true while the online community is active. Once Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite hits, this game may wane in value due to its lackluster offline.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a worthy inclusion for any fighting game fan’s collection. It’s a straight port of the 2011 game, but the included DLC makes the purchase worth its price. The graphics don’t feel too outdated, and its comic-book style still holds up as far as 2D fighters go. With a huge roster of fan-favorites, flashy movesets, classic game soundtrack remixes, fair online infrastructure, and medium-defying crossovers, UMvC3 is pure, unadulterated fun.
I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!