“Hang on”, you say, in a confused daze, “didn’t this game come out already?” Well, it did see its original release in February, so you would be right. However, Capcom has added much more content to the previous release and has now re-released it as an ultimate package, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Between the new characters, new stages, new gameplay modes, and Heroes and Heralds, Capcom has certainly made this re-release worthwhile.
For the uninitiated, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a clash between the combatants of the worlds of Marvel and Capcom. The villains, upon meeting each other, realize that they can harness the power of both worlds and take over both at once. The heroes will not accept this treachery and so the fight begins. Then Galactus decides he wants to eat the entire planet, as if there wasn’t enough chaos going on. The story is light, but it doesn't need to be any more than this; this game is all about the fighting itself.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 does a great job at easing new players into the game while also having a deep metagame for fighting enthusiasts to enjoy. Characters have Light, Medium, and Heavy attacks, both on the ground and in the air. Other button combinations allow for different attacks, combos, and Level 1 and 3 Hyper Combos (special attacks). If all of that is too much to take in, there is a Simple mode that minimizes the number of button presses needed. Each match is a tag-team battle of 3 on 3. All characters have three different assist attacks that they can use when not currently fighting. Team harmony between your three characters of choice is essential to victory.
The character roster is enormous. Up to 48 characters are selectable (and there are also two downloadable characters as well). This roster includes your expected superheroes (Iron Man, Captain America, Spider Man) and many Capcom classics (Ryu, Dante, Spencer), but it also goes into the obscure (Rocket Raccoon, Firebrand) the weird (M.O.D.O.K) and the absurd (Deadpool, Phoenix Wright). Any player will find some characters that appeal to them in this motley crew.
Graphically, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 looks like it could be ripped out of the pages of a comic book. The game has vibrant graphics, bursting with color that perfectly complements the wacky hijinx that is bound to occur within each match. Furthermore, the announcer chimes in with some awesome quotes to further push the heated action along – from intro quotes (Live and let die! Go for broke!) to in-battle quotes of amazement (Dude! Viewtiful!). It looks, feels, and sounds like a comic book has come to life on your TV screen.
Offline mode contains the standard Arcade, Versus, and Training modes. If you’re looking to learn some combos, Mission mode tasks each character to complete different moves and combos. The effort needed to complete the hardest missions will help improve your ability by the time you finish them. New to Ultimate is Galactus Mode, an unlockable mode where you play as Galactus, trying to destroy the heroes who are protecting the planet. This is an interesting diversion but not worth a lot of investment.
Capcom promised improved netcode for the release of Ultimate, and the original already had smooth online. That doesn’t change in Ultimate; I experienced almost no lag in my online battles. You can participate in ranked and unranked battles, while facing friends or anyone in the world. Just join a lobby or create your own and get the battles going! Capcom has also been updating the game frequently through patches to make sure it's balanced, and they'll continue to do so.
Heroes and Heralds is a new mode recently added to the game and is a free download for all players. The most notable change from standard gameplay is the addition of three card hands that provide various bonuses in battle, such as increasing your special meter when crouching or granting super armor. These cards feature many Marvel and Capcom characters that did not make the cut as playable fighters and digs deep into their respective histories (much like trophies do in the Super Smash Bros. series). It’s best to play this mode offline when you start out so that you can get more effective cards and stand a chance against those who are playing online. You should quickly find B rank and A rank cards to replace your starter C rank cards. A flaw in the system is that there’s little reason to go back to lower rank cards once you find the better ranks; it would have been cool to have seen some special features in the lower rank cards that a strategist could use to their advantage.
Online, Heroes and Heralds features week-long campaigns where players select a side and battle those who chose the opposing faction. Whichever side fares better in online play will win and get bragging rights for that week. This is where you bust out your deck and battle an opponent and his deck. These fights can be hectic as you try to figure out what the opponent’s strategy is with the boosts that their cards are providing to their fighters. It adds a big layer of mind games to a fighter that can already challenge the brain at the highest levels, making Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s mix of fighting and thought feel like a game of Chess Boxing. While that all sounds complex, it flows through the gameplay much easier than it would seem to in text. Once you find the cards you want, Heroes and Heralds becomes a blast to play. There is, however, one glaring omission. If you want to battle your friend in a private online battle and match wits with them over and over again, you’re out of luck. There is no setting for a private battle – you must face off with a random member of the opposing faction. The week long campaigns are cool, but they shouldn’t stop friends from facing off. Hopefully Capcom will add this feature in a later update.
It’s one thing to release a good fighting game, as Capcom did with Marvel vs. Capcom 3 earlier this year. It’s another thing to release an update that adds so much content to the original package, then release a new mode that is so detailed it feels like another full game. That’s what Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (along with Heroes and Heralds) is. Some may feel upset that the game is being re-released so soon. But at a cut retail price of just $40, to get an expanded roster, stage list, gameplay update, and Heroes and Heralds, this is absolutely worth the extra cost. And, of course, if you have never experienced this game before, that price point makes Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 an absolute steal. This is a game that everyone, from fighting purists to casual gamers can enjoy greatly.