The Marvel vs. Capcom series is one of my all-time favourite fighting games. I have quite the number of childhood memories playing the original on the first PlayStation and basking in its gorgeous 2D sprite glory. Since then we have moved forward in gaming and Capcom has abandoned the classic 2D art style in turn for 3D models.
While this look and feel of the game might not be as polished as the original, when you see the fantastic roster of Marvel heroes and the extensive list of Capcom fighters, you will be filled with nothing but joy at how well each of them have been presented. Sure, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite might have a few rough edges when it comes to its facial art, but I could not fault it on its superb fighting that was both flashy and fast-paced. It is everything I loved from the past games with more Marvel and more Capcom.
If you have never played a Mega Man before, you would not know that Capcom's platformer stars Mega Man himself alongside Zero and the main antagonist of the X series is known as Sigma. This virus is a dastardly being that will stop at nothing in his quest to turn every robot against humanity and build a future of machines. Sigma is one of my favourite villains in the Capcom library and his look throughout the Mega Man X series has also been quite distinguished.
Now, Marvel has its own dastardly robot villain who will also stop at nothing in order to build a robot-only future. His name is Ultron. Marvel vs. Capcom's main story mode is one of the most brilliantly conceived plots I have experienced in a fighting game and that is mainly due to its genius way of merging these two villains into one to form Ultron Sigma, the ultimate mix of Marvel's and Capcom's best bad guys.
The main story mode in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite sees the fighter roster from both games team up to bring down this new threat who has targeted the Infinity Stone, yet another major story detail from the Marvel Universe. These Infinity Stones are present throughout the Marvel movie series as well as the comics. Each stone represents an element in the universe and with it, in hand, you can control life itself. Control all five stones and you are basically a god.
Throughout the story mode in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite I took control of various fighters from the massive roster of characters. Each of them had a turn to fight as the story mode plays out across various locations in the universes. My most favourite moment was in the early game where the Captain America sets off with Ryu to find the Soul Stone and ventures to Valkanda, which in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is a mixture of the city where Black Panther takes place, and the Monster Hunter universe, yet another great Capcom series. I won't spoil it but just be prepared for some rather epic cinematics.
The game's cinematics never failed me as throughout the story mode the narrative comes to life with some great voice acting and some pretty intense set pieces. The final showdown is a true tribute to both the Marvel series and Mega Man, and I could not stop replaying the cutscene as there is simply so much reference to both worlds in one sitting.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite has a fantastic fighting scheme and it feels so much the same as past games. This is combined with an easy-to-use combo system, an extremely over-the-top hyper move and special move list that sees the screen light up in every pixel as you quickly perform combos, ultimate attacks and switching between your tag team partner to do it all over again. A typical fight was an exhilarating experience from the word “fight” as I jumped, dashed, and flipped my analogue around while combining various attack buttons together to pull off moves, and of course launched my opponent into the air to execute my hyper attack without him blocking it.
The Infinity Stones in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite play a crucial role in battle as each one of them is used for a different reason. While you don't get much chance to use it in the story mode, the Arcade, local, and online modes let you choose one of them at the start of the battle. There is now a separate bar for the Infinity Stones that fills up during battle. Pressing L1 during combat uses the stone's special effect. The Time Stone, for example, let me sprint to the other side of the stage, and the Soul Stone let me drain life from my opponent.
These stones give the match a new level of detail to keep in mind when facing an opponent or choosing one of your own. When the bar reaches max you can then execute an Infinity Power which also gives you a briefly added bonus depending on the stone you have equipped. This timed-phase then ends after a few seconds and you need to fill up the bar again in order to execute it.
Each fighter is unique in their own way such as their speed, special moves, and of course hyper attacks which are the highlight of every battle. Hulk jumping into space and crashing into you with a meteor he grabbed while up there is still one of the highlights of the game for me. While his attack is cool, every character is just as awesome. Mega Man's entire attack set, for example, sees him throw various weapons at his opponent which are iconic to the X series. He can even equip the Light Armour which is obtained in the game. His hyper move then lets him charge his buster and shoot a massive beam at the enemy.
The roster is truly one of the best there has been in the series with Marvel's greatest characters like Iron Man, Thor, Rocket, Thanos and much more. Capcom equally has the same cameos such as Ryu, Morrigan, Zero, Chris Redfield, Nemesis, and more. To see these characters fighting one another is truly a fantastic clash of worlds and it works so well. Saying that, however, there are some characters lacking which is concerning. Many of the characters that were in the past games have been neglected like Wolverine, Dr. Doom, Magneto, Amaterasu and more. The 30-character roster is great, but it could have been better. Knowing Capcom, they will probably add more later as DLC. This is also a step down from Marvel Vs Capcom 3 that had 36 characters at launch with two added as DLC.
Fighting, in general, is easy to master and it can also be as hard as you want it. You can sit and try and pull off a 40-hit combo, but that might take practice. However, you can also try your best to pull off every special move and throw in a few punches here and there and it will still look and feel pretty great as if you were a true professional at the game. The magic is in how great the game looks and plays even if you are being pummeled in the corner by Thanos. The moves are so intricately created and the amount of polish gone into it all is truly superb.
Online is as you would expect a fighting game to be. Playing various matches proved to be enjoyable and there are even settings in the game to help with latency and ping spikes. These will surely help you if you are suffering from a slow connection or fighting on a distant server. I did manage to find a couple of matches during the review process, and these proved to be smooth and without lag issues. Custom lobbies also let you create matches that people can join, and while these were not avaible to me, I am excited to see what custom fights players come up with in the weeks ahead.
You can also customize your player card with emblems and “titles” as you progress through the game's various modes and complete the different activities. Last but not least, there is a gallery that contains player models, artwork and cutscenes that you can go and gaze at if you are in the mood to look at those pretty and not-so-pretty faces in detail.
Everything in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is as you would expect it to be. It does not weigh itself down with any extra modes that you might not play. It is simple, yet effective. After the 5-hour story mode, I headed into the arcade to play a dozen matches, and then into training to polish up my combos before heading online for some sweating multiplayer. There is very little to unlock and progress to other than a ranking, but in a way it keeps the game focused on what it does best, it's awesome fighting and flashy moves.
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Played On: PS4 Pro Release Date: 19 September 2017 | RRP: R849
This review was based on a review copy of the game provided to us by Ster Kinekor