|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Release: November 15, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Is Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 worth your money, or is it just a $40 expansion pack? This is the question that has been asked ever since the game was announced. Well, now we finally have an answer: "Yes" on both accounts. UMvC3 is basically nothing more than a glorified expansion pack on top of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. In all honesty, there is nothing here that couldn't have been delivered gradually via DLC. That being said, if these features were delivered via DLC, they would cost much more than $40. So no matter which way you cut it, the game is worth your money. It's just that your buddy who missed the original release basically gets to spend $60 less than you and get the exact same content.
The first thing anyone cares about when a new version of a fighting game comes out is the roster, and UMvC3's roster has gotten much bigger. If you include the two DLC characters, UMvC3's roster has been inflated to 50 characters, a mere eight less than the whopping roster of MvC2. Capcom has also promised us more DLC down the line, so, with any luck, we could very well surpass MvC2's roster count in due time.
The new characters are all a blast to play, and they all fit into some niche that wasn't filled in the original MvC3 lineup. Phoenix Wright and Frank West are both characters that have subsystems that power them up, while Ghost Rider and Nemesis are characters that zone you with long range normals (Ghost Rider on the fast end and Nemesis on the slow end.) Nova uses red life to power up his attacks, Rocket Raccoon is incredibly small and controls space with traps, Firebrand's moves are entirely aerial in nature, and Iron Fist spends most of his time on the ground without ever launching the opponent. Finally, the cast is rounded out with Strider and Vergil, who are low-life characters with low damage outputs that depend on powerful mobility options and resets to deal damage, and Dr. Strange and Hawkeye, who are both highly mobile characters with a variety of projectiles that can control space.
If you aren't into any of these new characters, the returning roster has received numerous changes as well. Several characters have had totally new moves added to their repertoire. Magneto, for example, can now alter your momentum by magnetizing you, while Ryu has a new power-up super, the Hado Kakusei, which makes all of his supers and ki-related attacks gain new properties. Even if your favorite character didn't gain a new move, his old moves probably gained new properties. Zero, for example, can now cancel just about anything he does into a charged Level 3 buster, though it only causes a soft knockdown now.
Granted, many characters were hit with the nerf bat as well. Phoenix can only perform one air fireball before landing, and they disappear if she's hit, while the invincibility on Wolverine's Berserker Slash has been removed. The list of changes is long and varied, and would take another entire article to explain. Suffice it to say the entire roster has become much more balanced. Even rarely used characters like Arthur and Modok are finally getting some high-level play.
The overall game system feels a bit better as well. Meter gains a bit slower, while the minimum damage scaling has been reduced making combos do less damage overall. The DHC trick and all other game-changing glitches have been removed, and X-Factor bonuses have been leveled across the board and lessened in strength overall. That being said, X-Factor has gotten a bit more flexible. It can now be used in the air, and the boost lasts for a variable amount of time depending on which character you play. Slow characters, like Nemesis, get incredibly long X-Factor boosts, allowing them the extra time they need to get in and land that one hit that might give them the match.
Online mode has gotten a much needed overhaul this time around. First and foremost, spectator mode has been added. So now when you are in a lobby, you can watch your friends fight rather than sit there watching their stat cards bump against each other. Granted, the game is still in its youth, so the smoothness of online play might change as more and more people crowd the servers. That said, I didn't notice an appreciable drop in quality, even with four other people watching my match. You can turn spectating on and off say, if you need to leave the room for a while, or if you just don't feel like watching a match, so pretty much everything is covered here.