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Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
Score: 88%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Fighting/ Arcade/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
It's difficult to discuss franchise mash-ups without so much as a reference towards the Marvel vs. Capcom series of fighting games. And rightly so; it's one of the most well-executed crossovers in the gaming world. If you've found yourself in an arcade at any point over the last decade and a half, chances are high that it had a Marvel vs. Capcom 2 machine. If it did, the chances are equally high that it was the most crowded machine in the room. The MvC series found success on home consoles, as well -- nine years after its release, MvC 2 remains one of the most sought-after PlayStation 2 titles on the market. The next generation is here, and Capcom has seen fit to deliver more of the fanservice-filled fighting phenomenon in the form of Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. Some long-time fans might bristle at some of the changes they've made, but make no mistake: this is an exciting and polished fighter with more than a few tricks up its sleeve.

Crossover franchises can be tricky to visually articulate; both worlds usually have to meet each other halfway to produce a style that distinguishes itself while including some of the more exclusive elements. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 teeters on the Marvel side of things when it comes to visuals, but it manages to tether the two universes in a way that suggests that these two worlds could plausibly co-exist. The game has a slightly cel-shaded look to it that fits comfortably within the Marvel universe without betraying the Capcom side. Each character brings his or her own idiosyncrasies to every fight, and the animations are key in driving that home. Morrigan Aensland does her damnedest to come across as the sexiest thing alive, and Deadpool struts around like a complete douche. To say that the combat is flashy would be the understatement of the year. Combos play out like they would in a comic book: bursting with color and assorted special effects. Outside the fighting, the presentation isn't particularly impressive, but who's going to spend any more than two minutes in the menus?

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 features a soundtrack that is faithful to the multitude of franchises it represents. If it's been a while since you've played some of these games, the snippets of music that identify with each character are sure to put a smile on your face. The original music isn't really all that great, and it won't take long before it starts to annoy you. The voice acting is quite good for the most part. Some of it is annoying, but when it is, it's usually because the characters themselves are simply written that way.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds would probably fail miserably if it tampered with the formula that made the first two games such huge success stories. You're given a handful of licensed Marvel Comics and Capcom characters to build a team of three, then you duke it out old-school style. This is a game about high speeds, high altitudes, assists, and ridiculous combo attacks.

The biggest changes with games like this usually have to do with the roster of fighters to choose from. There aren't too many surprises in Marvel vs. Capcom 3's case. Sure, there are some regular staples of the franchise (Wolverine, Ryu), but there are also some dark horse choices that are truly inspired. Picks like Amaterasu (Ôkami​) and She-Hulk are somewhat obscure, but they are the ultimate nod of the head to hardcore fans.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3's primary shortcomings don't really have much to do with the mechanics, which are fine. When the number of modes and features comes under scrutiny, however, things get a little sketchy. Single-player and multiplayer modes alike are standard for the genre, and no strides are made in the evolution of the structure of the fighting game. Still, what's here is good -- for the most part. Arcade mode sends you up against team after team until you get to the final showdown with Galactus. Character-specific endings are back, though they are even less impressive than the ones from Super Street Fighter IV. And then there's the multiplayer mode, which is also great fun.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds is sheer mania 100% of the time, and therefore rather intimidating to the eyes of your garden variety fighting game neophyte. A small concession has been made in their favor in this game. Dubbed Simple Mode, this control assist (or limitation, depending on how you play) takes some of the bite out of the difficulty of certain command inputs. With Simple Mode, single button presses translate to special abilities and combos. Don't confuse this with Win Mode; plenty of the nuances are eschewed completely from the picture. Someone who takes the time to learn how to play with a character should have no trouble rubbing a Simple Mode player's face in the dirt. However, if you know someone who's easily frustrated with fighting games, this is intended for them.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 features a robust training mode, as well as what could easily be described as a mere extension of said training mode. Mission Mode requires you to execute moves (or strings of moves) in order to complete each mission, so in essence, this is another training mode. However, there's no way to display the command list on the screen without pausing the game. It would accelerate the learning process and help players hone their skills more quickly. Not having this option is kind of a pain.

Game Mechanics:
Most of what made the other Marvel vs. Capcom games great make Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds great as well. Each landed attack helps fill the iconic Hyper Meter -- which is, of course, the heart of the MvC experience. This meter opens the door to devastating Hyper Combos, as well as simple assists from teammates on standby. It's a great momentum system that holds up well, even after all those years. The Assist attacks can be customized in the Character Select Menu, which adds a bit of strategic depth to the proceedings. Learning how to properly land a three-man Hyper Combo or a perfect Assist can take some time, but it's sweet as nectar when you finally get it.

Some of the changes present in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 are readily apparent to veterans of the franchise. Others, not so much. For example, simply watching the game in action will show you that the speed has been turned down a bit. However, it would tell you nothing about how drastically the controls have been changed. It doesn't take the punch/kick duos (or trios) used by most other fighters. Instead, it utilizes a more simplified set of strength variable attacks. One key mechanic has been further simplified; to get an opponent airborne, each character can use the same basic command. Some players might not take kindly to these alterations, but those who ebb and flow with the changes will be rewarded for their perserverance.

I don't think I'd personally put Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds on my list of all-time favorite fighting games, but there's no denying that it succeeds in delivering exactly what it originally set out to deliver: equal parts fanservice and fun.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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