2017 has already proven to be a fantastic year for fighting games, with spectacular outings for both the Tekken and Injustice franchises, whilst Mortal Kombat still holds a loyal fan base despite releasing a couple of years ago. But if you thought you’d seen everything 2017 has to offer in the fighting genre, then think again. Marvel vs Capcom may not have been in quite the same league as those aforementioned titles with its recent entries, but with a new release comes a fresh chance to battle with the best. But does Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite have what it takes to rank amongst the greats?
For those who haven’t kept up with series in recent years, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is the sixth main entry in the series, and following in typical fashion, Infinite allows players to control characters from both the Marvel and Capcom franchises before taking them to compete in tag-team battles. This time around however, fights are of the two-on-two variety rather than the typical series three-on-three format that has been seen in preceding titles of the series, with extra power this time coming from the introduction of the popular Infinity Stones of the Marvel universe. All six are on show in Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite and with a decent selection of characters to choose from you can be sure to find some formidable tag-team options that, when powered by the right Infinity Stone, will become a complete powerhouse.
There are a number of different game modes for players to get stuck into with their favourite teams. These come in the form of Story, Battle, Mission and Training. Naturally there is always going to be some that are more appealing than others and being the story driven enthusiast I am, I decided to head straight on into the Story Mode, in the hope that things had been vastly improved over that of the last entry in the series – Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.
Fortunately it’s much better this time round, as for a start there is actually a proper storyline, which for the first time in the series comes complete with cinematic cut scenes with great voice work that help to explain what’s going on. The plot – without giving too much away – follows the heroes of Marvel and Capcom as they work together to save their merged worlds against the threat of Ultron Sigma – the new-found creation of Ultron from Marvel and Sigma from Mega Man. You see, they have fused together both themselves and the two universes in order to wipe out all biological life and take ultimate control over everything. Whilst the heroes vs villain story build up isn’t exactly an original idea, it is an interesting one that comes together well, and had me keen to play through to the end.
Throughout the story players swap between various character duos whilst hunting down each of the newly introduced Infinity Stones. There are six in total – the Space Stone, Reality Stone, Power Stone, Mind Stone, Soul Stone and Time Stone. For anyone well acquainted with any of the recent Marvel movies, these are likely to be something you know of well, and for those of you who aren’t, then, well, the story does a decent enough job of getting players used to what each one does.
The basic idea is that each one is incredibly powerful and with the new-found evil, Ultron Sigma, out to destroy the universes, having them fall into his hands is a definite no-no. The Infinity Stones aren’t just there for storytelling however and progressing far enough will see your various tag-team duets given control of each of the different stones as they are collected in battle, with each one giving a unique ability, turning you into a force to be reckoned with. For example playing with a team such as Haggar and Hulk may be putting you in with two of the slowest characters in the game, but utilising the power of the Time Stone will allow you to zip across the screen like lightning, therefore bringing the ultimate power onto your enemy in no time. Playing with faster but ultimately weaker characters, might see you wanting to choose the Soul Stone so you can make use of the health leeching ability to gain the upper hand, unless of course you fancy your chances with the Power Stone that when activated certainly helps pack a punch. The Space Stone on the other hand is great for defensive players who like to hang back as it pulls the player towards them, and the Reality Stone produces a homing style projectile that fires at your opponent causing damage.
Of course in the story, teams and stones do come pre-set, changing as things go on, but in Battle Mode players are free to choose whichever pairing they like, allowing plenty of opportunity to find the perfect battle partners once you’ve got used to the power of each Infinity Stone.
Unfortunately though, whilst the story is certainly a much more impressive adventure this time, and the Infinity Stones bring great variety to the fighting, not everything in Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is such a joy to behold.
For a start the general combat isn’t as good as it could be, and whilst the Infinity Stones bring a warranted change to things, it’s not long before you start to realise that combos are pretty much the be all and end all of each fight. With your health bar quickly diminishing in mere seconds should you be on the end of a lengthy one, and with no way to block a combo if the first hit makes contact, it can put an end to a fight rather quickly. This leaves things feeling heavily luck based, especially if your opponent is able to pull off a few cheap hits early on.
This isn’t helped by the poor way in which players are expected to block during each fight. With many other fighting games, blocking is seen as being just as important to the fight as actually hitting your opponent, however in Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, blocking feels more like a cowardly thing to do. This is due to the fact that you can only block if you’re moving away from your opponent and towards the far side of the screen. Not only does it feel cowardly, but it doesn’t help the flow of the fight at all.
If that’s not enough to turn you away from the fighting side of things, then the Online side of things probably will be. Battle mode is one of the other options for play aside from Story mode, and for most players finishing the story, this is likely to be where most of their time is spent – especially given that this is where you access Ranked, Casual and League matches. If you want to remain competitive here however, then a textbook knowledge of each and every character’s moves is needed, along with the luck of gaining the first hit in each and every fight. Failure to do so will see nothing more than defeat without ever landing a hit, something which obviously sees Infinite feel unbalanced.
Aside from those modes, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite also includes a training mode, and Mission mode – or as I like to call them, training mode and advanced training mode. See, whilst the training is there for simply nothing more than to train players in the dark arts of combat, I was hoping for something a little different with Mission mode. Instead I was left disappointed. This is because despite the option to partake in a variety of missions for each and every character, the majority of which ask nothing more than to perform the tricks and tactics learnt throughout training, there is no real variety or change to any of the missions, other than in the type of move you’re asked to perform. This is a bit of a poor showing from a mode claiming to be mission based and feels like nothing more than a tacked-on addition to give off the impression of variety.
There is one other positive to mention with Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite however, and that is the rather decent selection of characters that are on offer within the game. There are 30 characters altogether; split nicely between the Capcom and Marvel camps. Whilst there will no doubt be some who find fault in the fact that not every Capcom and Marvel favourite made the cut, there is still a wide enough variety of characters to choose from. Being a big Resident Evil and Dead Rising fan, it is great to see Nemesis, Chris Redfield and Frank West make the roster, whilst Megaman, Ryu from the Street Fighter series and Devil May Cry’s, Dante are other notable inclusions. As for Marvel we see another strong line-up with Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman and Ghost Rider all making an appearance, along with the witty mind of Rocket Raccoon and the sheer will of Thor amongst others.
After spending a fair bit of time with the many fighting games that have released this year, it’s fair to say Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is both slacking and lacking in comparison. Whilst the story mode has seen a much needed improvement, the outdated fighting mechanics and reliance on combos makes the combat feel more like a chore than something enjoyable. With luck playing a huge part in the unbalanced online play, there is no way of being able to recommend Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite for any reason other than for the impressive story mode and mixed environments.