After a short period of PlayStation 4 exclusivity, the Xbox 360 classic Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has finally arrived on Xbox One and Steam. This version boasts 50 memorable characters, improved online play, and all previous downloadable content (DLC) in one package. It truly is the "ultimate" version of the popular tag-team fighting game. Unfortunately, this new version's online matchmaking doesn't live up to the rest of the package.
Two worlds collide
Way back in 1996, Capcom crossed-over its popular Marvel fighting games with Capcom-owned characters for the first time in X-Men vs. Street Fighter. Soon, the crossovers got even larger with 1998's Marvel vs. Capcom. The new Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (UMvC3) continues the tradition of growth, bringing in 25 characters from each company's roster for a total of 50 playable characters.
On the Capcom side, four characters come from the Street Fighter series (Ryu, Chun Li, Akuma and C.Viper); four come from Resident Evil (Chris, Jill, Wesker and Nemesis); three from Devil May Cry; two from Mega Man; and several individuals hail from various other series. Frank West from Dead Rising is one of my favorites, with humorous attacks involving zombies, shopping carts, and more.
The Marvel side features numerous popular comic book, movie, and TV characters. Wolverine, Deadpool, and the adult X-23 are all X-Men characters who have appeared in (surprisingly great) movies recently. The primary Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Hawkeye, are all playable, as are Dr. Strange, Rocket Racoon (from Guardians of the Galaxy), and Spider-Man. Even Iron Fist shows up, looking much cooler than his Marvel Netflix version.
All 50 characters include six alternate costume colors. In many cases, these colors reference missing characters. For example, Ryu has a Ken-themed option, and Zero has a Mega-Man-X-themed one as well. All but one of the characters also have an alternate costume (a completely different character model) that was previously sold as DLC.
Magneto's alternate costume comes from the 'House of M' storyline. The outfit he ended up in there was originally based on the uniform of the president of Spain. The Spanish government apparently complained, causing Capcom to remove the outfit. A replacement outfit would've been nice. But instead, he ended up without an alternate outfit in this new version.
Learning to fight
Although button-mashers can easily jump in and have a good time, UMvC3's gameplay is surprisingly deep and complex. A good tutorial explaining the various mechanics (as seen in Street Fighter V) would certainly help ease players in. Unfortunately, there isn't one.
UMvC3 has two modes ostensibly for learning: Training and Mission. Training is just the typical fighting-game training mode in which the player can practice moves against an invincible opponent who never fights back. It is certainly a good way to work on your moves and combos, but it doesn't teach you anything.
Mission Mode provides a more focused way to learn. Each of the 50 characters has 10 unique missions to complete. The first few simply require you to perform a specific special move — an important part of learning to play any character. But unlike Dead or Alive 5 Last Round's training modes, this game only displays the name of the special move it wants you to do, not the inputs. So you have to pause, select your character from the command list (why not jump straight into the current character's list?), and find a move to see its inputs. That is awfully clumsy compared to the obvious alternative of displaying the move's inputs.
Worse, most missions involve completing a series of hits and special moves in a combo. The instructions name several special moves, which again, you must look up and learn by name. The timing on these combos is also extremely unforgiving. Only the most dedicated players will be able to complete all ten of a character's missions, let alone complete them all for every character.
In short, Mission Mode is poorly thought out and way too hard for average players. Luckily, the core gameplay isn't so hard that you can't figure most of it out through practice or by reading up online.
In UMvC3, each player selects a team of three characters and then battles it out one-on-one. Rather than having two punch buttons and two kicks as in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, this one relies on three attack buttons and a launcher button (also called the S button). The launcher knocks an enemy into the air, allowing you to jump up and then follow up with an aerial combo.
The only other buttons you must use are Assist 1 and 2. These call in the other members of your team to perform a quick assist move. By pressing and holding an assist button, you can switch to the character who jumps in. Tagging out allows injured characters to recover part of their health.
Other important maneuvers include super jumps (tap down and then immediately tap up), Hyper Combos (end certain special move inputs by pressing two buttons instead of one), and X-Factor.
Introduced in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, X-Factor can be activated once per fight by pressing all four face buttons at once. This causes your character to glow red and deal extra damage. The damage boost increases with each team member you've lost, so saving it until the end of the fight can provide a massive damage boost and potentially turn things around for a losing player.
UMvC3 has two main single-player modes: Arcade, and Heroes and Heralds.
Arcade simply consists of a number of fights against increasingly tough enemy teams. The final battle starts with a fight against two heralds of Galactus, the devourer of Worlds. Beat the heralds (silver versions of regular characters) and you'll face off against the screen-filling Galactus himself. Defeat him and you'll unlock an ending for whichever character finished him off. Some of the endings can be amusing, such as the one in which Ryu becomes the next Iron Fist.
Heroes and Heralds was originally released as a free downloadable mode on Xbox 360, so it will likely be new to many players. It's also the real meat of the game — a vast mode with two different campaigns. You can play as the Heroes to battle against Galactus's invading army of heralds, or become a Herald and work to defeat Earth's protectors.
Whichever side you choose, you'll work to unlock a variety of cards that provide bonuses, buffs, and debuffs when equipped to your deck. A deck consists of three cards. One card, designated as the primary card, gets a special effect instead of its normal one. Naturally, cards come in different rarities, encouraging you to replay levels to collect them all.
Inexplicably, Heroes and Heralds doesn't have any Achievements of its own. But it still offers hours of fun, and you can work towards some of the cumulative Achievements while you're at it.
UMvC3 supports both local and online multiplayer. Online multiplayer offers three primary modes: Ranked, Player Matches, and Lobby. Additionally, Heroes and Heralds has its own online mode (that nobody is playing). When playing Arcade mode offline, you can also choose to accept challenges from other players, which is always a plus in fighting games.
In my experience, the netcode is flawless once you get into a match. Reportedly, combos that didn't work online in the previous-gen version now actually work on Xbox One and Steam. That would be perfect, if only matchmaking worked right.
Finding a match takes way too long on Xbox One. Sometimes you'll wait for 5 to 10 minutes before anyone joins. Perhaps the Xbox One version sold extremely poorly, resulting in a small online community. But UMvC3 is actually a popular game, so I'm more inclined to blame faulty matchmaking. Hopefully Capcom fixes the issue soon.
The Xbox One version of UMvC3 has 47 Achievements worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. Most of the Achievements are the same as the Xbox 360 version; Capcom really missed its chance to encourage people to play Heroes and Heralds mode with added Achievements.
The Achievements are extremely grindy, for the most part. You have to play online matches for 30 hours(!), win 100 Ranked matches, get a 10-game win streak in Ranked matches, and more. The Ranked Achievements will be impossible for some players, as will the Achievement for clearing 480 Missions in single-player. In other words, don't buy this game for the Achievements.
Overall Impressions of UMvC3
After the downloadable Xbox 360 version of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 disappeared from the Xbox Store due to Capcom licensing issues, the future of the game seemed to be in doubt. Thankfully, Capcom renewed the license and published this Xbox One version for a new generation of players to enjoy.
UMvC3 doesn't look noticeably better on Xbox One, but it was already a beautiful game. The wealth of playable characters, levels, and gallery items to unlock will certainly satisfy fans of the series. Heroes and Heralds is a great mode, and online play is as fast and fun as ever — at least when matchmaking actually works.
- A fantastic lineup of 50 beloved characters.
- Heroes and Heralds mode offers an engaging single-player experience.
- One of the fastest, flashiest fighting games ever.
- Online matchmaking takes forever to find matches.
- Mission Mode is clumsy and overly difficult.
- No real tutorial to teach players all the mechanics they need to know
Matchmaking issues aside, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a must-play for fighting game enthusiasts and Marvel fans. The $24.99 price tag doesn't hurt, either.
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.