When two powerhouses collide, big things are expected, and rightfully so where it concerns both Marvel and Capcom. Back when the standard version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 hit the previous generation of consoles, about seven years ago, the hype was strong and I spent a fair few sessions attempting to best my far superior human opposition. Then came the Ultimate version, bolstered with extra characters and additional content, and that’s what’s now been ported over to the latest consoles. Will Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 still hold up well in the fighting genre after all this time? Does it actually bring anything new to the table, or is it a straight port without a hint of extras?

First things first, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a fighting game which utilises team based bouts featuring three members per team, with one character in use at a time and the rest able to be switched in at will. There’s only one round, and the last team standing wins; there’s none of the old ‘best of three’ to decide the fight. As you can imagine, with six characters a part of every match up, it can get hectic, manic, chaotic etc. You get the idea, but it’s mainly a good thing.

As far as narratives go, it’s very bare bones, with the eater of worlds Galactus being the ultimate threat to the two worlds involved. And it’s in the Arcade mode where you’ll attempt to tackle this humongous god-like figure, so long as you can overcome six battles against randomly put together teams. After choosing your trio of fighting machines – whether that’s made up of characters from Capcom, Marvel or a mixture of both – you’ll be able to set the difficulty level and any time limit. If you’re anything like me, possessing very few skills, then getting past six rounds of increasingly difficult opposition will be no easy feat. Should you manage it then there’s a surreal and immensely mismatched fight against Galactus, which is rather cool and reminds you how much of a puny human you are.

The only problem I have with Arcade mode is, once I’ve done it, why would I want to do it again? Just for a short comic style scene relating to the victorious character? I don’t think so. It can be attempted at higher difficulties I suppose, but even on Normal the A.I. is pretty wily compared to most decent players. Longevity isn’t really on the agenda here, and the same can be said for the other offline modes. Training mode is somewhere to practice moves at your own pace and Versus mode is for a quick battle against a friend locally. To be fair though, you could spend an age in Mission mode, but it’s not really enjoyable unless you possess hardcore combo skills.

In Mission mode, there are ten different missions for each character in the game and here you perform a specific attack or combo in order to succeed. At first I was ecstatic as it was a neat way to learn a few more offensive moves for some of my favourite characters. The A.I. won’t fight back, so there’s no worry about being defeated. But the setup is odd because you’ll go from performing a simple-ish manoeuvre straight into a mission involving a four part combo – talk about a steep learning curve. I found that it just made me more miserable due to not managing to advance past around mission two or three for any character whatsoever.

What it deserves credit for though is the option to simplify the moves, albeit by lessening the amount in your arsenal. Simple controls allow you to actually pull off some awesome signature moves with ease, moves such as firing Iron Man’s Uni-beam or creating Doctor Strange’s magical rings. This setting can only be used in a limited amount of modes though, but it’s very useful for help in progressing through Arcade mode, or just to enjoy all the awesome special moves and hyper moves on offer.

I soon grow tired of the offline offerings though, to the point where I am ready to venture online to see how far I’ve come before inevitably getting a beating I’ll never forget. Alas, I couldn’t do it. Whether the blame lies with a matchmaking issue for the online modes provided, or the sheer lack of numbers playing Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, but not a single match can be found in the Player or Ranked variations of online play; despite many, many attempts.

That’s utterly disappointing, especially for a fighting game where the end-game for anyone playing is to be the very best they can be and that cannot be achieved if there’s no one to play against. It’s also a problem for the final mode, Heroes & Heralds, where half of it relies on the online component. The aim is to reclaim territories as either a Hero or one of Galactus’ Heralds by winning matches of the usual 3v3 format either online or offline. It’s slightly more entertaining than the rest of the action, mainly due to the ability to pick a deck of three cards, cards which can be earned via wins, to boost various aspects of gameplay. For example, currently my deck’s best ability is to boost the speed the Hyper Combo gauge rises. Even though I cannot play it online, Heroes & Heralds is still my favourite mode of the game.

Rosters can make or break fighting games and given the vast amount of characters at the disposal of developers Capcom and Eighting, it was always going to be a good one. With 50 characters split evenly between Marvel and Capcom, I’m suitably impressed with the variety. I didn’t realise how great it’d be to use Frank West and ram trolleys with zombies in them at opponents, but he’s just one of many interesting Capcom choices which pay off; with others being Nemesis (Resi Evil), Amaterasu (Okami) and Arthur (Ghosts ‘n Goblins). Marvel comes off even stronger thanks to Deadpool, Rocket Raccoon, Doctor Strange and Iron Man all impressing. All characters’ Hyper Combo moves are utterly unique to them and make for great spectacles when performed.

Speaking of moves, or more importantly gameplay itself, and the tag team based combat adds an extra dimension to proceedings. Not only do you have standard attacks, special moves and hyper moves, but also the ability to get assists from tag partners and even some epic crossover combinations where all characters do their Hyper Combos at once – no one is surviving that!

Visually, it’s very impressive in regards to the high definition 3D character models which are spot on and full of vibrancy. There’s always a lot going on in the heat of a battle, but the quality never appears to drop at all. The battle locations do look a bit tired though, almost as if they didn’t get the same rejuvenation treatment; something which affects the modern settings of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier but not so much the Demon Village of Ghosts n’ Goblins.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 delivers in providing a truly great roster of characters and utterly exciting gameplay, especially in the Heroes & Heralds mode. Sadly, it lacks in longevity, no thanks to the frankly dead online side, a pointlessly difficult Mission mode and a rather short Arcade mode. There’s a lot of fun to be had, but in very short bursts and slightly limited depending on your level of skill.

If your love for all things Marvel or Capcom is strong, then Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is no doubt worth a look, but for everyone else it depends how much of a hardcore fighter you are and whether A.I. is enough of an opposition to keep you entertained.

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