PAX Prime 2010: Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
If you are a fighting game fan like me, there were two games which stood out against all others at this year’s PAX Prime: Mortal Kombat and Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (henceforth MvC3). After spending a little time on the show floor with both, I think it’s safe to say that the first quarter of 2011 is going to be a very exciting time for fans of the genre. But this article is about MvC3, so let me detail my brief hands-on time with Capcom’s much-anticipated crossover title.
The first thing I noticed upon walking up to the MvC3 booth was the neat little set up Capcom had going. There were multiple kiosks arranged facing each other, with most of them actually sporting dual fighting sticks (and a few offering controllers for those of us who haven’t mastered the fine art of joystick manipulation – wow, that sounded wrong, but I’m just gonna go with it). There was also a large central screen that towered above all others, and its on-screen action was narrated by some annoying guy with a microphone (presumably those playing on the main screen were vying for prizes of some sort – I didn’t hang around long enough to find out).
After a short wait, fellow Thunderbolt writer Sean Kelley and I stepped up and were met face-to-flatscreen with MvC3‘s character select. Fourteen characters were playable; seven from the each side of the crossover. They were:
I probably should have chosen a few of the more recently announced characters, like Trish, Chun Li or Super Skrull, but since this was my first time playing MvC3, I wanted to get a feel for the game’s mechanics (and actually have a chance against Sean) with a few of the more familiar faces. I selected Ryu, Iron Man and Chris Redfield.
So into the battle we went – and into a decidedly familiar, yet totally fresh fighting game experience. The first thing worth noting about MvC3‘s gameplay is that it feels a little more tactical than what was offered in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Characters are larger on screen and command inputs seem even more forgiving. The game appears to be staying true to Capcom’s recent shift from a focus on command input skill and consistency to Street Fighter IV‘s focus on timing and strategy. The action’s certainly fast and furious, but much less chaotic then its predecessor. In fact, it almost felt like a happy mix between SFIV and Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter (which, in my personal play experience, is far more balanced than MvC2). This gives me hope that MvC3 will actually become a top-tier tournament fighter in terms of complexity, balance and, most importantly, fun factor.
Visual-wise, MvC3 looks great. Of course, this isn’t news to anyone who’s been following the game and seen any of the many, many HD videos and screenshots all over the Internet. The art style isn’t as strikingly original as the Japanese calligraphy approach found in SFIV, but it’s certainly crisp and vibrant, and the comic book-style lettering (i.e. – THWOCK! CRUSH!) helps the game feel more in tune with its all-important Marvel license. There was, however, one aspect to the visuals that I wasn’t blown away by – the backgrounds. Although crisp and technically competent, the stages I saw weren’t very energetic or striking; they just seemed a bit – dull. I’m really hoping that the background artists kick it into overdrive over the next six months and create some classic stage designs that will keep MvC3 in line with Capcom fighting games of the past.
Back to the Thunderbolt grudge match between Sean and I. With both Ryu and Iron Man K.O.’d, I was looking down and out, but Sean made one deadly mistake: he underestimated my ability to gain separation and spam projectiles like a cheesemiester. Muahaha! The end result was a double whammy of Chris’ tri-shot grenade launcher Super (which apparently does very heavy damage even when blocked) and Sean muttering something about chip damage. In some way I feel vindicated in defeating the reigning SFIV master here at Thunderbolt, even if it was only one match using greasy arcade sticks in the middle of the chaos that was PAX Prime 2010. Will I be able to keep my crown once we’ve both had ample time to practice? Man… Spring 2011 can’t get here soon enough.