Capcom knows a good thing when it sees it, and cross license games are a big thing for them. One of their most notable cross license franchise is Marvel vs. Capcom, and it is one that has seen a few releases on home consoles. Well, it seems that Capcom hasn’t forgotten fighting fans who love gaming on the go, as the PS Vita has been blessed with a portable version of the latest release in the series. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (UMvC3) has been on store shelves since the launch of the PS Vita, and I have to say that after playing quite a few rounds, this fighting game is a solid port of the home console version and you’d be hard pressed to find anything like it at this time on Sony’s new handheld, well, at least until Capcom releases Street Fighter X Tekken finally for it.
If you have played any of the home console versions of this game, then you know what to expect, given that there are no additions to the Vita version. For the uninitiated, UMvC3 is a 2D fighter plain and simple. It is a 3 vs. 3 brawler where you can choose from a wide selection of both Marvel and Capcom characters. There are a total of 48 fighters to choose from including Ghostrider, Ironman, Wolverine, Rocket Raccoon, Hulk and Magneto from Marvel, and Akuma, Frank West, Wesker, Ryu, Arthur (Ghosts n’ Goblins) and Phoenix Wright from Capcom just to name a few. There are some interesting choices and I am sure that there are enough characters here to appease everyone. Each character has their own special attack too.
The selection of single player gameplay modes is not too much, but what is there is adequate. There is Arcade Mode where you fight in a tournament against CPU opponents leading up to a final boss showdown. This is the easiest way to get a ‘quick fix’ of UMvC3, given that it does not take a long time to get through the fights. Some may say “hey, why is quick good, I want depth?” Well you do get that here too given you can choose any combination of characters and you will not fight the same opponents over and over again.
Training Mode allows you to select a character and then you can polish up your skills before playing any of the offline or online competitive modes. You will also find Mission Mode, which has you taking a character of your choice battling through 10 missions specific to that character. The missions can cover anything from basic moves to combos that are specific to the character you choose. There are five difficulty levels in all.
The Mission Mode is basically a tutorial so to speak, as you will learn moves that are specific to the character you choose. Although this is great in theory, you will find yourself having to pause the game a lot and then going into your characters move library to find out exactly how to pull of the various moves. I think that the Mission Mode could have been more intuitive and actually shown you what to do and how to do it. Given that you are learning how to do specific moves and combos, showing you how to do what you’re supposed to is almost paramount, especially given how many characters this game contains. I found myself pausing the game to check out exactly how I had to do what the game wanted me to do, and it took me out of the experience more often than not.
Capcom was kind enough to allow gamers who purchase UMvC3 to have access to the downloadable content Heroes and Heralds at no cost. This has been available from day one of the PS Vita launch. This mode has you collecting cards and assigning them to your team of three characters, which unlocks new abilities and some cool bonuses. I found this mode pretty addictive, as I wanted to see what new cards I could collect and what they would eventually open. The amount of cards is somewhat overwhelming though and you may find yourself, as I did, forgetting what card does what, and when you should assign it to your various characters.
Of course multiplayer has always been a staple for fighting games, and UMvC3 has enough to offer here for anyone to enjoy. You can play against other fighters using the Vita’s Ad-Hoc mode, or you can head online to play people from all over globe. You can play ranked and unranked matches. I found my time online to be fairly smooth. Although I was far from being a UMvC3 veteran, and I did get my ass handed to me more then a few times, the technical aspect of the online made it somewhat enjoyable. Generally the experience was free of lag, but I did hit some periods that were downright slooooooooow. I don’t think that this is a fault of the game though, but more a fault of the ‘interwebz’ itself.
An online feature that I really enjoyed was the spectator mode. Being able to watch matches while waiting for my turn to get my ass kicked was pretty cool. I found that some of the matches I watched were pretty intense and there are some amazing players online. I learned a thing or two watching these. Speaking of learning, UMvC3 on the Vita also has supports a replay mode, which is a great way to improve your skill. You can sort through a replay leaderboard and save them to the Vita’s memory card. You can then watch these replays frame by frame while viewing various data from the match. It’s quite neat to do and something I was surprised to see in a portable game like this.
Control is key to any fighter, online or not, and UMvC3 has great control. You can opt to use either the d-pad or analog stick, along with the buttons and triggers. The Vita’s d-pad is pretty good and I think a lot of fight game fans will be surprised with the responsiveness and control offered by it. It doesn’t feel like a handheld gaming machine’s d-pad in the sense of how others have felt in the past. Button placement is also intuitive and very customizable too. All in all I give a big thumbs up to the control in this game.
UMvC3 utililzes the touchscreen of the Vita and offers up a Touch Mode for those looking for something new. This can be used in both single player and multiplayer. Swiping in a specific direction moves your fighter around, and you only need to tap the screen on your enemy to have your character attack. It is a very simple mode, and really allows you to easily show off the game, as there is really no skill needed to fight. I found it a great demo for friends as I could show them what the game can really do in terms of visuals, action, and mayhem.
Visually speaking, I was really taken aback by the action on screen. It is frantic, fast, and looks darn right amazing. Everything from the cut scenes before and after a battle, to the in game action, Capcom did an amazing job bringing UMvC3 to life on the Vita. The game runs at a very solid framerate too. As I played I rarely noticed any hiccups or slowdown. The characters are animated very smoothly and they flow across the screen with grace and style. There are lots of special effects to, especially when you launch one of the many ‘uber’ attacks that each character has. From laser beams, fireballs, to ripping up the street, each special attack is amazing to watch unfold as it unleashes a huge amount of damage on your foe, or on your own character should you be unlucky. Of course each of the levels you fight on are well designed. There are a lot of small things that go on as you fight too. You’ll be hard pressed to see all these small details though as you are caught up in the watching your characters in a ‘fighting ballet’ with your enemy. Regardless, I for one appreciated each level, as when I did get a chance to see where I was fighting I was amazed each time to see so much work put into each one.
UMvC3’s sound wraps up a great gaming package. From the voice acting, the music, to the sound effects, you will find no wrong here. I for one was happy to see that each character was given some personality by allowing the victor of each match to show a little ego with a quip or two about their fighting prowess. It was a nice touch. The music that plays during your fights really does become secondary to all the sound effects that take place on screen. It just seems to get lost between the screams, grunts, and the sounds of special attacks and weapons being used. It’s not a bad thing that this happens though as every thing just seamlessly blends together.
I have to say that Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the PS Vita is a pretty darn good game. I went into this review somewhat blind, as I have never really played any Marvel vs. Capcom games in the past, but after sitting down and playing this handheld version, I am pretty impressed. With on-screen visuals that shine, control that is spot-on, and gameplay that is addictive, for a fighter, anyone who is a fan of fighting games, or is looking to show of some pretty graphics to their friends, really can’t do any wrong when considering buying this game for their new handheld console. That being said, fighting games are not for everyone, so keep this in mind too.