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Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite Review – The X-Who?

Mavel vs Capcom has some very good foundations but sadly, it’s held back by a range of negatives.

Developer: Capcom
Publisher:
 Capcom
Release Date:
19th September 2017
Platforms:
PS4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed On:
PS4

 

The “Versus” series has a long and complicated history of games. Starting with X-Men vs Street Fighter in 1996, bringing tag team fighting into the mainstream. King of Fighters had already had tag team gameplay, but it was still a Japanese series primarily. The series reached its peak with Marvel vs Capcom 2, Capcom, of course, released a sequel for the Xbox 360 and PS3 which was pulled of shelves after a couple of years due to licensing issues from Marvel, fresh off their success with the cinematic universe and were looking to consolidate all the properties they could under Disney’s banner.

The series seemed all but dead until Capcom announced a new game in the series, to the shock of almost everybody. Marvel vs Capcom Infinite was released to the waiting world with high expectations and big shoes to fill. Does it live up to its pedigree? Or will it be crushed under the weight of its hype?

Story: Like a Toybox Full of Action Figures

The story in a fighting game is historically unnecessary. The latest Mortal Kombat and Injustice games have had excellent stories, so every fighting game recently has needed a “cinematic story mode.” MvCI is no different. Telling the story of a “convergence” of several disparate universes to fight a threat from Ultron/Sigma a combination of the Avengers and Mega Man X villains. These universes are brought together through the power of the 6 infinity stones. Throughout the story, all of the characters team up in several different ways to let you get some hands on time with them all, acting almost like a gameplay introduction to the individual characters. The fights are broken up by cheesy cut scenes which only really serve as a way for one character to say another’s name in a “wink, wink, isn’t this awesome” way. It feels as if somebody threw all their action figures on the floor and began smashing them together in groups that mostly make no sense. Since the Marvel side only has characters from the Cinematic Universe, series regulars like the X-Men or Fantastic Four are missing; they are missed badly.

The story is short, beaten in 4-5 hours on normal difficulty. Even in that short time, I felt as if it overstayed it’s welcome. It’s unfortunate, since part of the appeal of the series is to answer the school yard questions of “who would win in a fight, x or y?” As I said, though, a fighting game’s story is not what fighting games are judged on.

Gameplay: Fast, Furious, and a Little Crazy

Probably moreso than any other genre, fighters believe in the adage, “Gameplay is King,” since games live or die on their fighting systems. For every game that is seen as a classic like Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat, or Marvel vs Capcom 2; there are games that failed due to weak gameplay such as Tao Feng, or Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi. The fighting genre has been going through a kind of Renaissance where old series and new series have been taking advantage of more powerful hardware to step into the modern age. MvCI, for how terrible the story mode is, has some amazing gameplay.

The moment to moment gameplay still feels like it’s predecessors, a team of characters vs another team of characters face off with tag team rules. The MvC series has always been known for large flashy combos being thrown out with relative ease. There have been some updates to the gameplay to make it more accessible to new players, which is something that the old, hardened fighters consider a dirty word, with the introduction of easy combos and easy super attacks. Players don’t have to use the easy options, though. The typical 3 support roles for each character has been simplified by the pre-match choice of one of the six infinity stones, giving effects that can be activated by your team. Overall, the gameplay keeps the spirit of the franchise while adding features that modernize the game, allowing for further refinements down the road.

So the cake is mostly good, but what about the icing?

Graphics/Performance: Who Needs Cohesion?

First things first, MvCI is gorgeous in every way, but the character models which I’ll get to in a second. The backgrounds for each arena are richly detailed and usually consist of a Marvel land and a Capcom land smashed together as is the case with the Mega Man and Thor cross up, Xgard. In these tableaus are moving pieces that bring the world to life and makes the battles feel grounded in some sort of universe; maybe not our universe, but the game’s universe. In these mash-up stages, the worlds appear to be a cohesive whole, which is what you want from this kind of game.

The character models do not share this cohesion in the slightest. When Capcom released the story demo of this game after this year’s E3 conference, much wailing and bashing of teeth was heard over the way the Chun-Li model looked and for a good reason. Capcom heard the complaints and fixed her model, it is not any better. None of the characters look like they belong together, even Chun-Li and Ryo from Street Fighter look like they come from different console generations with the detailed Ryo and the plain, plasticy Chun-Li. And that’s the problem. Some of the characters look as if much more time being designed than others. Hawkeye even looks as if he has been cut and pasted from the default model in a Saints Row character creator. Which doesn’t help when they zoom in during some of the super attacks which are beautiful in action, distracting from the character models.

hawkeye.jpg

Saint’s Row has been in space, now follow them to someplace that uses a bow and arrow!

 

For the most part, the performance is a sillky smooth 60 frames per second, allowing for the battles to feel as if you’re commands are being obeyed almost immediately. I did notice a couple of times, a heavy hit to performance on PS4 when there is a lot going on, which is something that hopefully going to be fixed, since slowdown is one of a fighting games worst enemies. It’s unacceptable, really.

Music: Another Classic?

Music in the Marvel vs Capcom series is defined by one song, the high bar set by “Gonna Take You For a Ride” from the 2nd installment. Just saying that name will cause anybody who spent a good deal of time with MvC2 to start singing. The rest of that game’s soundtrack was filled with awesome, jazzy songs which underscored how fun the whole thing was supposed to be. MvCI doesn’t have anything quite like that. The score is serviceable, but veers too close to the serious superhero themes found in multiplexes. It’s not memorable in anyway.

Multiplayer: Smooth as Butter

The online components of MvCI work well. I was never sitting and waiting for a game for any length of time. When a game started, I never really had enough lag to make the game unplayable. There is lag, don’t get me wrong; the way online services works makes the total elimination of input lag impossible. I had next to no problems in my matches, though.

On the whole, Marvel vs Capcom Infinite is a game with a good foundation, but there are several negatives that will hold this game back from reaching the franchise’s heights.

Pros:

  • Gameplay easy to enter, hard to master
  • Graphics are a treat to see
  • Infinity Stones add a great strategic value to gameplay.
  • Online play works well

Cons

  • It is inconceivable to me that the character models were allowed in the finished game.
  • Story mode is cheesy and disappointing
  • Some slowdown is really unacceptable

Final Score: 6/10 – Above Average

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