Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Once You Pop, The Fun Don't Stop!

Capcom flexes the Vita's muscles with an impressive port of everyone's favorite cracked out crossover fighter.
Author: Vincent Ingenito
Published: February 20, 2012
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Full disclosure: I'm a fighting game nerd. I geek out over frame data. I spend hours in training mode practicing one combo until it's more burned into my muscle memory than how to cut a steak or make a sandwich. You know how some people scream at their television while watching professional sports? I scream at my laptop while watching live streams of professional fighting game tournaments. Heck, sometimes I scream at myself when I'm playing at one of those tournaments (though I am not a pro by any reasonable definition of the word). Anyway, my point is this: compared to the average gamer, I'm a total fighting game snob. An elitist.


Which is why I am so completely bowled over by how splendidly the Vita release of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (UMVC3) turned out. I really couldn't be more surprised if Yoshinori Ono himself dropped by my apartment dressed as M. Bison to do a dramatic reading from the live action Street Fighter movie. That being said, this is still UMVC3, for better or for worse. If you thought the console version was too fast, too frenetic and too chaotic to be enjoyable, you will feel exactly the same way about this version. But that's the good news for others like me who just can't get enough of “dat Mahvel crack”. If you get off on touch of death combos that go on for 30 seconds straight, chucking stinger missiles at dogs, and visiting all forms of virtual mind-fuckery upon human opponents, you can now do it just as well on the go as you can in your living room.

So, if you aren't already a dyed in the wool Marvel head, let me bring you up to speed. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the latest in Capcom's long running series of “VS” fighting games. Unlike other fighters you may have played like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, you don't choose one character to fight with, you pick an entire team. At the start of a match, you select any three out of a huge roster of 50 iconic characters from the Marvel and Capcom universes. You also pick one of three “assists” for each character. See, while you only directly control one fighter at a time, you can call one of the other two in at almost any moment to perform their assist attack. Which characters you choose, what order you put them in and which assists you opt for provides a huge part of the game's fun and depth. Not only is it cool to pit so many beloved characters against each other in over the top fantasy match ups, but coming up with different teams that cater to different strategies gets immensely addictive.

Surprisingly, this makes training mode the bread and butter for your single player experience. Yes, there is an arcade mode where you can fight through the traditional succession of increasingly difficult battles, and the ending boss fight with Galactus is one of the most memorable the genre has ever seen. But trust me, once you start understanding the unfettered freedom and boundless possibilities UMVC3's fighting engine offers, you will be constantly running back to the lab to experiment. There's nothing quite like thinking to yourself, “I wonder if this works.” and then testing it to find out that it does. Going through that progression from barely being able to string two hits together to snapping off 200+ hit combos that leave your opponent checking his watch is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have as a player.

This is one of many areas where the Vita port of UMVC3 shines brightly. I have put an unbelievable amount of time into this game and its predecessor, Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. For the better part of the last year I have watched and even played with some of the best players in the country and I can tell you that every last technical element of the game engine, even the quirky stuff, is faithfully reproduced here in the portable version. So the next time you think to yourself, “Will combo X work?”, or “Do these characters have synergy together?” you can just pull out your Vita and find out. There is a 100% chance that it will work exactly the same way when you try it at home on your PS3.

Gloriously, not only does it play identically to the home console versions, it looks identical too. The only concessions made are that some special effects on certain hyper combos are a bit simplified, and certain backgrounds (most notably the Daily Bugle stage) sport fewer dynamic elements but that's really it. I also noticed that when performing a THC (team hyper combo) from one character to the next, the character cinematic sometimes shows for just a tad longer than it would on the home version. Outside of those small differences, the game looks just as eye popping on the Vita's OLED screen as it does on my LCD monitor at home. Colors are vibrant, animations are silky smooth and the character models are every bit as detailed as the version I've been playing for months. Even when things get crazy (which is often in this game) the frame rate holds on, rarely, if ever slowing down. It's an incredible achievement and a testament to just how powerful Sony's new handheld is.
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