Capcom has just released its divisive Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite on consoles and PC. With its release comes a whole host of likes and dislikes from fans of fighting games and those with an interest in Marvel characters. It has to be said, Marvel Vs Capcom 3 was, and still is a pretty decent offering considering its age now which has meant a lot riding on this current release to live up to.
First things first though, and perhaps causing quite a stir is the graphics overhaul. No longer looking like a comic book with hand-drawn characters coming to life are far more detailed renditions than ever before – looking more akin to the recent Injustice 2 but not as good. In some ways the new look loses some of the charm from the past but in terms of progression the character models are quite modern by their design. It’s perhaps one of those artistic moments which aims to divide opinion. That said, some of the characters faces close-up don’t look right in some instances and from our point of view a lack of decent lighting and shadows makes them stand out too much from their backgrounds (in a negative way) for the most part.
There’s a three hour plus story mode to battle through which shows off each of the playable characters in various scenarios – plus several that aren’t available to play just yet. It’s a neat distraction but does possess some awful dialogue and a story that’s akin to a Saturday morning cartoon. No doubt younger players will be well entertained, but older die-hards are going to be left either slightly amused or completely destroyed! One instance has the black Panther (or King of Wakanda) point out “we have more visitors” as a aircraft lands before them. Like seriously? Did this really need to be said.
There’s a healthy roster of characters on offer for 2 vs 2 match-ups versus the AI in Arcade, Versus or online play against fellow humans – yep, no more over the top 3 vs 3 battles. There are plenty of familiar faces from the Capcom and Marvel camps but to be honest there are a number of throwaway entries that are simply dull and uninspiring considering the potential choices available. It simply reeks of a well devised plan to include more desirable characters further down the road as dreaded DLC such is the nature of the beast. So the starting line-up might grate hard for some players, in fact it will unfortunately. At least there are returning favourites such as the overpowered Dante, Chris Redfield, Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk etc. but some glaring omissions (what happened to Deadpool? – “Pineapple surprise”).
Once you’ve perhaps stopped sobbing over the roster and gone on to beat the story (and yes the end boss is another screen filling sponge like atrocity) then you can focus on the gameplay which happens to be the best part of the package. Lots of things to mess around with here, but what’s neat is the auto combos and easy infinite moves for beginners to button-mash their way to victory without feeling like they are cheating, well kind of. It means anyone can effectively pick up a pad and feel powerful enough to let rip with simple combos and specials. The active switching is a nice feature for more advanced players where you can instantly swap partners during combos to follow-up, and the air attacks remain if you’re using direct input commands. Advancing guards are also in which offer counter opportunities with the correct timing and there is a difference from the aerial raves we saw in Marvel Vs Capcom 3 but works well enough. There are also gems which offer various powers during rounds so a tactical element to suit your play-style when choosing the team. So there’s something for everyone with the gameplay whether you’re a pro or newbie which is great!
As mentioned, the character visuals are quite different from an artistic stand point to previous games in the series, but the stages themselves aren’t interactive and quite lifeless especially having been spoiled by Injustice 2 (apologies for mentioning it a second time now). The game plays smoothly at 60 fps but there’s some dips at the end of rounds during a KO which might be due to background saving or some other oddity (on PC at least). Whether you like or loathe the new art direction the game is visually pleasing on the eye with plenty of flashy effects and super attacks that drench the screen in colour and animated close-ups of the characters.
Audio is pretty forgettable to be honest, with standard voice performances for characters who might be their original actors or not (from the previous games not movies). The story really doesn’t give them much to work with anyway despite some moments that might cause a smile.
In terms of length, this is the same with any other fighting game which comes down to mastery of the characters. You can hone skills in training mode or tackle some challenges in the mission option but really you spend time learning and just keep getting better. Online is a welcome option but your mileage will vary depending on what platform you’re playing – PC having the least players to choose from. Local versus is great for friends but if you’ve not got like-minded players to mess around with at home then it’s a wasted option so you’ll have to settle with AI and various difficulties. Other than that it’s quite bare bones with no extra modes or post story content to play with which is a step backwards. You can spend time unlocking new outfit colours but even this is limited.
Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite is a nice game but totally lacking in features even compared to Capcom’s other fighting games – which to be fair also didn’t start out too great and added features over time – looking at you Street Fighter V. However, comparing to the likes of Injustice 2 and there’s really no comparison (a third a final mention). That said, the core experience on offer is fun and accessible which seems to be aimed at fans of Marvel and Capcom characters as well as fighting game fans. It’s perhaps a gamble that pays off pleasing all with varying degrees of success. The bottom line is if you’re not a massive fan of the current roster or fighting games in general then this isn’t going to sway your opinion or open up your wallet. If you’re a fighting game fan then sure there’s something to be gained here, but the lack of likeable characters might put you off. Obviously if you can’t get enough of the big five (that’s Spider-Man, Iron-Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America) then you’ll enjoy what’s on offer here without batting an eyelid. Anyone else would do well to wait for more released characters before diving in.