Cutting directly to the chase, ‘Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’ (UMC3) is pretty much the same game as its predecessor…sans the additional adjective. Subtle gameplay tweaks, a dozen more fighters, and we’ve reached ‘Ultimate’ status.
With this being said, updates are very welcome ones. The second coming of this title feels a great deal smoother, and with it a more tactical feel ala’ old school favorite ‘Marvel vs. Capcom 2.’ To explain, combos stagger more logically, also tag team dynamics where big bad, team-induced arse kickings chain brilliantly into airborne juggling-esque setups. Last and thankfully, most (but not all) cheats (via indefensible moves) have been addressed and removed.
The dirty dozen, additional characters are no slouches. Ghost Rider, Doctor Strange and Hawkeye are as Marvel cool as the other side of the pillow, ditto the clever combos of Capcom vets Phoenix Wright, Frank West and – my personal fave - Strider. Not sure why Rocket Raccoon made the ‘Ultimate’ cut, but one never knows what’s lurking in the mindset of Royta Niitsuma. Ditto selection of Galactus as the lone grand finale. You can’t win ‘em all.
While additions are seemingly minimal, they’re enough, however, to significantly warrant a purchase for anyone (looking in the mirror) devoid of the first go-round of (U)MC3. Similarly - and for repeat offenders - definitely worth trading in the original for the Ultimate sequel. Akin to Super vs. original ‘Street Fighter IV,’ differences between the two – even ignoring the whiz-bang of new characters – are glaring.
Thankfully, many of the things that made the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3 so terrific persist. This is a beautiful game through and through, with gorgeous character modeling, stunning backgrounds, exceptional sound effects and music, and a comic book menu system that is both clever and hip.
Related – and even with shortcomings – the core fighting system of Marvel vs. Capcom remains a welcome combination of simplicity and depth. It’s incredible how much the MT Framework engine packs into half the attack buttons of other Capcom fighters, also the complexity of seemingly simplistic tag attacks that end up fairly robust when executed properly.
Moreover, the Series’ ridiculously diverse set of characters equates to keeping things eternally fresh. When Viewtiful Joe beats the bejeebuz out of the Incredible Hulk through quick punch, hyper gauge combos, you can’t help but have a good time.
Online mode persists, also an uninspired solo character campaign. UMC3 does a good job tracking play through experience points, and combines with leaderboards toward a running tally of gameplay progress. Pretty much standard fare for the next generation, Capcom series of fighters.
Offline versus play is arguably UMC3’s greatest value add. After several hours in – and having played way too many fighters over the years – this remains arguably the single fighting game series wholly capable of producing both a fun and challenging experience with mates, near-infinitely. An over-the-top character roster, comic book feel, and lowered barrier of entry…but complex engine behind it…combine to make UMC3 perhaps the best local fighting game available.
Being a pragmatic bloke, UMC3 is also fairly affordable…a definite boon with oodles of games on Christmas lists the continent over. Capcom logically deduced an uprising on its hands by releasing a near-immediate, subtly tweaked sequel at full RRP. Our wallets thank you.
In closing, ‘Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s upgraded gameplay and characters combine to make what was a questionable purchase a near must-have fighter. Critics of the original will find nearly all of its criticisms addressed, those taking the first plunge a terrific experience. Still, a devil’s advocate can’t help but point a menacing finger at an original that arguably could’ve been patched, upgraded through downloadable characters.