Get Your Fight On-The-Go – Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 Vita Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita.
Fighting its way across two worlds is Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the PS Vita. This complete edition of the fighting game may be jam packed with characters and gameplay, but is it worth picking up again for the Vita?
UMvC3 has a bit of storyline hidden behind it: the villains of both the Marvel and Capcom universes have joined together in an attempt to take over both of their respective universes. In doing so, however, they awaken the evil Galactus, who threatens to engulf and destroy both worlds. Now the fight is on to stop this evil giant. While this is an interesting concept, it never seems to manifest itself outside of a comic book in the Gallery and a final fight against Galactus. This isn’t a fighter game driven by an in-depth story, and some players may get set off because of it.
Those who aren’t though will stick around for the gameplay, which is pretty simple and standard for any fighting game. Combinations of light, medium, and strong attacks can be strung together for combos, or combined with the standard “fireball rolls” (such as rolling the D-pad from down to right quickly) to use special skills. If that seems like too much work, then a simplified control option is available that will auto-combo for you. However, some abilities are unavailable in this scheme, so while it’s easier to control your options are overall limited. Still, this alternative makes the title a little more accessible to casual or newer players.
To augment gameplay there is a feature called X-Factor. This is a mode that can be triggered mid-battle to increase your characters’ abilities. You’ll hit harder, quicker, take less damage, and recover faster. This can be used only once per battle though, so it should be used only in a worst case scenario.
What sets the title apart from other games in the genre is that you select three characters instead of one. In battle, you may freely switch between them, call on them to take a support action, and even combine special attacks together. UMvC3 does a wonderful job of bringing its two universes together using this combat system.
The Vita version of UMvC3 retains all of the available game modes of the console versions, with a few online and offline play-types to choose from. The first stop for most will be Training, where you can practice and learn the general controls or figure out a new character. With 48 playable characters to choose from, chances are you’ll be spending a lot of time here.
Other game modes include Arcade, Online, and Heroes & Heralds. Arcade is your usual fighting game “story mode” where players fight round after round of enemy teams, before finally coming to a final special boss battle. This final showdown sees you fight two minions before going against Galactus himself. Should you succeed, you’ll be treated to a very brief epilogue about the first selected character on your team, and some unlocked art in the gallery. While Arcade is a fun mode the first time through, it suffers with replayability. Some players will find that the miniscule rewards (the epilogue video and some character art unlocked in the Gallery) for completing the game mode are not worth the effort – even more so for characters that the player doesn’t like to play as.
If going toe-to-toe against the AI just isn’t doing it for you, then the Online feature might do the trick. Here you can battle players from all around the world (or nearby via Adhoc) in your standard one-on-one fights. Just feel like watching two people duke it out? Good news, you can also spectate a match! While it’s a lag-free experience, just pointlessly battling people can get a little dull after a few matches; especially if your opponent is a fighting aficionado and continues to wipe the floor with you. If you are that skilled person though, you’ll probably have many hours of fun here.
Heroes and Heralds, on the other hand, is easily the shining point of UMvC3, with two versions available: online and offline. In offline mode, players select a side (the good Heroes and evil Heralds respectfully), and then are presented with a hexagonal grid of locations. Winning and losing fights in an area raises or lowers the percentage of that region you have control of, with an overall goal of seizing them all. Each battle also has an enemy leader. Taking them out will scratch their face off of the Hitlist, which acts like a Bingo board. Fill in a line and you’ll receive a bonus area, which will give the player a great reward for completing. Fail, however, and it will disappear forever.
The online version of Heroes and Heralds plays considerably different: players take part in a weekly campaign for world dominance. During the week’s first sign in, players are asked which side they’d like to fight. Then all you need to do is just battle others online like you would normally. The team with the highest wins at the end of the week takes the final victory (not dissimilar to the “Battle for the Ark” from Brink). Between rounds, you can check out the current standings as well as the leaderboards.
To further set H&H from other game modes is the card system. Players will make a deck of three cards, each having its own passive effect in battle. These can range from granting super armor, to increased abilities, and even things like auto-blocking. Up to three decks can be built, with one being chosen at the start of each battle. On the whole, the H&H game mode (both offline and online) will be the reason players keep coming back to play UMvC3.
Visually, the game is wonderful. The massive 5-inch OLED screen brings the cell-shaded comic book-style graphics to life. Thankfully, there are no graphic hiccups to be found, so you’ll be able to enjoy each second with perfect clarity. Every character has multiple costume colours to pick from, with several downloadable outfits available in the store, giving a slight sense of aesthetic customization. Overall, the graphics are indistinguishable from its PS3/Xbox360 counterparts and is one of the best looking Vita titles to date.
The same cannot be said for audio, however, which can be fairly boring. Music in game is delivered mostly in the form of upbeat rock guitar riffs (with a few orchestral or electronic tracks), which sound completely synthetic and tend to get annoying after a few listens. I personally found myself turning on my own custom soundtrack to drown it all out. Voiceovers are better thankfully; presented in-game with little phrases either as an introduction, a battlecry, or victory cheers. If the English acting isn’t what you’d like it to be then you may change each and every character’s voice to the Japanese actor. You might not understand what they say, but reading subtitles can be better than wanting to rip your ears out.
So, what sets the Vita version apart from the console versions? About two things, I’m sad to say: touch controls and the ability to take it anywhere. The former of the two sounds good on paper: drag and/or flick in a direction to move that way, tap the screen to attack (your distance form the enemy determines the attack strength), and touch the various elements of the HUD (such as the X-Factor icon) to use them.
Unfortunately, this control type doesn’t exactly work. As soon as you close in (which will happen fast regardless of distance), continuous tapping will unleash the same combo in the exact same way. I was able to continuously win match after match by simply spamming taps on screen. Even on the hardest difficulty (where I couldn’t land a single blow with the traditional control scheme) I had no problem clearing match after match with just some rapid presses. Luckily this feature is totally optional, so it doesn’t wreck the game on the whole in any way. Still, the potential for this playstyle seems untapped and appears to only have been thrown on as a Vita novelty.
While portability is nice as well, Especially for those who enjoyed the original on console, UMvC3 isn’t Cross-Play compatible. This means you can’t take your PS3 save data around with you on your Vita, causing you to essentially start all over again; painful if you’re waist deep in H&H or have invested hours in the game all ready. The good news in all this is however, is that any additional DLC purchased from PSN can be used on both Vita and PS3. It’s still a great shame that the unique and innovative Cross-Play feature isn’t present here as well, as it would have augmented the game immensely.
So, do the extra bells and whistles make the Vita version of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 worth buying? Well, it depends on your outlook. The title is very well put together, with some unique aspects, impressive visuals, and only a few shortcomings. There might not be many new features in this port, which may dissuade the gamers who already own a console version, but there is still a lot of bang for your buck here. If you’ve still yet to try it, then there has never been a better time – the Vita is the console of choice for the title by far.
Final Score: 4.25 / 5.0 and a second copy of your favorite comic book.
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