There's no doubt that Marvel's film universe, MCU, has grown immensely in popularity over the last few years, which has lead to it becoming one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood. That's why we weren't exactly surprised when Capcom finally unveiled that they would team up for another Marvel vs. Capcom back in December. Now it's time to see if the results match our expectations.
Over the years the rounds of Marvel vs Capcom 2 and 3 that we've played have made it clear that Capcom definitely knows how to make entertaining fighting games based on the two universes. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is no exception in terms of controls and gameplay, but the studio has made a few questionable choices in other areas.
The weight and responsiveness of the controls feels great for most of the characters, but sometimes it makes others feel slower and less precise. We're not quite sure if this is because of our preferences or whether it's the game's fault, but we fear that it's due to the fact that a few combinations are fairly challenging to perform with a regular controller. It seems like some of the combinations are made for an arcade stick, not regular controls. Fortunately, this is a minor issue, and we had no problems finding our favourites in Morrigan, Dante, Arthur and X after a few rounds.
Pretty much every character has combination attacks that are fun to look at, while also being diverse and unique. It's never boring to see Dante spin around in a flame-induced tornado and then pull off a guitar-solo that sends the opponent flying. The same goes for Rocket calling out for Groot, who comes smashing down on your opponent with a fitting "I am Groot".
One of our biggest concerns before launch was how Capcom would make the game feel fresh and unique. How were they going to avoid the feeling of déjà vu? Well, some of the most noteworthy ways are the six different Infinity Stones. Each stone will have different effects during combat, which gives some extra strategic depth. Not only is it important to think about which characters you bring into the fight, but also the synergies between them and how you can use different stones to make up for their weaknesses or to enhance their strengths.
Take Hulk into the arena and it would be smart to take a Time Stone along with you. This will make the otherwise slow giant faster and therefore make his "Hulk Smash!" an even greater force to be reckoned with. Some other examples are using the Soul Stone to heal and revive characters, and using the Power Stone to shoot projectiles. Different kinds of stones suit different kinds of playstyles and characters. It'll be very interesting to see what kind of character/stone combinations players find as time goes on, and how Capcom will keep this as balanced as possible in the multiplayer modes.
Still, Capcom has tried to give those who play alone something as well, giving us a Story Mode at launch this time around. The bad news is that it's boring and filled with cliches. The Injustice games have shown that fighting games can have interesting and exciting stories, so it's disappointing to see that Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite offers very little of either. Sure, it's an epic clash between two popular universes where Ultron and Sigma have teamed up to become Ultron Sigma. They're now seeking to extinguish all life in both universes. A rather fitting plot for a game about superheroes, but it's just lacking in execution. There are a few humorous one-liners from the characters, but nothing that really stays with you.
The cutscenes between each fight mainly function as introductions of the different characters, while the majority of the fights themselves are against Ultron Sentry units. It doesn't take long for this to become repetitive and monotonous. The fights against iconic heroes are few and far between and are akin to being mini-bosses. This isn't what we want in a game like this. Fortunately, there are other, more enjoyable modes.
One example of this is Mission Mode, which tasks you with executing different kinds of combination attacks against other characters, which makes it a great way to get familiarised with the controls of each one. You can play against the CPU, a friend sitting on the couch, or online, which adds quite a bit to the replay value.
Marvel vs. Capcom is the first game in the series specifically developed for the latest generation of consoles, so it's rather disappointing to see that the graphics aren't quite up to snuff compared to the competition. The facial animations could do with some extra work in the cutscenes, and we're not just talking about Chun-Li here. Some of the characters' faces are just cringe-worthy to look at sometimes. The sound design is a lot better. You'll hear many familiar voices while playing, and the few exceptions do a marvelous (get it?) job of either imitating or having their own interesting take on it.
What irritated us the most about the game is its obvious focus on upcoming expansions and downloadable content. By all means, having 15 Capcom characters and 15 Marvel characters to choose from isn't exactly bad, but we can't help but notice a few omissions. The fact that you meet some of these during cinematic sequences doesn't help either. It's obvious that Capcom has plans for the future. Even the story ends on an obvious cliffhanger that we're guessing will be resolved in the future. A real shame, as the game's core mechanics and ideas are great, they just feel a bit unfinished.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite has the potential to become a fantastic fighting game. The core gameplay is very entertaining and the controls feel great. This is unfortunately held back by a few sloppy animations and because it looks like a lot of content is being held back for upcoming expansions. Still, if you're happy with the available roster and just want to do some good ol' fighting, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite will suit your needs.