A fun game wrapped around a bitter shell
I haven’t revisited this series in a while. Why not jump in with a recent game I’ve wanted to play but refused to buy yet.
My Digital Crack podcast-mate Punisher pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition for Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and picked it up with glee. In addition to getting to play the latest entry in Capcom’s Versus series, he was excited about getting the figures and admittedly kick-ass-looking Infinity Stones that were advertised. He had a pretty favorable impression of the game; he lambasted the Infinity Cadbury Crème Eggs that were in place of the stones.
I love the Versus series and fighting games in general. However, I was not going to pre-order Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. I felt burned by Capcom with Street Fighter V despite waiting a bit before buying it. That game was pretty good mechanically but essentially half a game, missing key features like an Arcade mode. I was concerned that their newest game would be more of the same.
The fact that there are no X-Men present in the game essentially made it half a game in my eyes. X-Men characters have been mainstays in non-Street Fighter Capcom fighting games since X-Men: Children of the Atom. Omitting them here is an egregious omission.
Still, I wanted to give Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite a spin. Rather than buy it, though, Punisher lent me his copy. This past weekend, I spent hours ripping through everything the game had to offer. Thankfully, this is not a half-ass job like Street Fighter V was. Unfortunately, Capcom still made some questionable decisions and mailed in a few things.
First, let’s get the good out of the way. This game is absolutely fun to play. The frantic combat that’s been the hallmark of the Versus series is here in spades. Despite the switch from 3v3 to 2v2, I never had a sense that the combat was missing something. The Active Switch mechanic that calls in the other fighter has been retooled, allowing players to tag in the second character even as the first is finishing up a combo. In no time, I was easily stringing together some sick combos.
The button layout returns to the one used in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and I prefer it that way. Having a dedicated launcher button in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was unnecessary in my eyes. It reminds me of the disdain I have for a dedicated block button in Mortal Kombat. Here, launchers are done with a crouching Heavy Punch. I like that method better. It gives me the same ability to do aerial combos while freeing up the button for another attack.
Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite includes a story mode, and cheesy doesn’t begin to describe it. The story takes players through the details of how the Marvel and Capcom universes collided. In theory, it’s meant to flesh out the stakes in the game. In practice, it’s hokey as shit. There are a few somewhat-funny moments, but the entire thing plays out like bad amateur theater. At least it forces players to play as just about every character.
Thankfully, Capcom added a for-real Arcade mode in this game. In Arcade, you face seven teams, with Ultron Sigma and Ultron Omega in the last two rounds. There is also a couch 2-player vs. mode, as well as a quick-and-dirty vs. CPU mode.
It’s in the Arcade mode that Capcom began cutting corners. After beating Ultron Sigma, the game rolls credits. The usual conclusions with screenshots and text that wraps up their arcs are completely missing. Although those conclusions aren’t deal-creaking, it shows a bit of laziness on Capcom’s part.
The standard roster boasts 30 characters, 15 from each universe. Series favorites like Dante, Iron Man, and Hulk are represented, as are newcomers like Mega Man X, Zero, and Gamora. Thanos, who made an appearance in the first Marvel vs. Capcom, is brought back for this go-round. Having 30 characters to choose from is pretty good, but certain choices are puzzling.
On the Capcom side, many characters make sense. Ryu and Chun-Li are two great representatives from Street Fighter. Dante, Haggar, and Nemesis make sense. I’ll even forgive Jedah; the Darkstalkers series has been woefully underrepresented. But who invited Spencer from Bionic Commando to the party? Did Frank West really need to return? With the huge stable of characters at Capcom’s disposal, were those two needed?
Things are worse on the Marvel side. It’s obvious, that Disney, Marvel’s owner, wanted to feature characters that either figure prominently in the MCU or will soon enough. That explains the lineup there. But why Gamora? And unless there’s something I don’t know, Ghost Rider and Nova aren’t in the MCU. You could excuse Ghost Rider but not Wolverine? Seriously?
It gets worse with the DLC characters confirmed with the Season 1 pack. Winter Soldier and Black Widow? Monster Hunter? Again, both universes have a huge roster. Couldn’t we even get Daredevil or Jessica Jones from the Marvel Netflix series at least?
Worst of all to me is the character models. Punisher touched on it in his review, but it bears repeating. These characters are JACKED UP! Did Capcom put their characters through Jose Canseco’s steroid routine? Spider-Man looks like a more agile Captain America. Cap is built like a shorter Haggar. Haggar looks like a different-skinned Hulk. And the Hulk looks like a meteor with limbs! The ladies fare no better. For Christ’s sake, what in the name of all that is decent and holy happened to Morrigan’s face? She looks like she’s one Botox shot away from a permanently paralyzed face!
The visual style of the stages is hit-or-miss for me. Most stages have quite a bit of detail, but none really stand out on their own. The stage I liked the most was Valkanda, and that was only in story mode. There, you control Ryu and must defeat Hulk before an Elder Dragon destroys the city. Seeing the beast leap in and out of the out of the sand in the background as you fight is pretty cool.
Oh yeah, I said Valkanda. In this game, all the stages take place in a world where Ultron Sigma merged the two universes. Valkanda is the merging of Wakanda and Monster Hunter’s Val Habar. Xgard is the fusing of Asgard with Abel City from Mega Man X, It’s slightly cutesy, but my eyes rolled off their sockets when I enter A.I.M.brella.
The game’s multiplayer brings things back to Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite’s strongest element: the fighting. Regular normal and ranked modes are present, and it’s basic no-frills competition. Of course, I jumped in and was immediately pummeled. It’ll take me a while to get my fighting legs under me, but I will. And when I do, I guarantee I won’t be facerolled again.
And I will be playing it again and again. Despite its numerous sore points and missteps, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is a blast to play. While I wish the game showed the level of graphical polish of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, what’s here is still incredibly fun.
As for the roster, more characters will be making appearances in the future. If some rumors and leaks are to be believed, the game might be adding some heavy hitters like Asura and Lady. And it’s possible that both the X-Men and Akuma might join the fun afterward. If so, I’ll be ecstatic.