Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite Review (XONE)

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is not Marvel vs. Capcom 4. Let’s just get that out of the way first. With a smaller roster – with no X-Men in sight, might I add –, a shift from 3v3 to 2v2 fights, and disappointingly poor presentation, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite seems like a major step back from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. And don’t even get me started on how dumb the story mode is. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite does get it right in the most important area, though, which is that the core fighting gameplay, even with some changes to make it more accessible, still rocks and delivers the frantic and fast paced fighting fans have come to expect from the franchise. As long as you can overcome any disappointment with the roster and somewhat ugly presentation, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite’s gameplay makes it worth a look. See our full Xbox One review for more.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: Fighting
  • Pros: Solid fighting gameplay; intuitive for casuals but plenty of depth
  • Cons: The story is abysmal; load times; so-so presentation; lame roster
  • MSRP: $60
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is an attempt to attract more mainstream audiences to the fighting game franchise by shifting its focus and storyline to appeal to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This means only MCU characters appear on the Marvel side – so no X-Men and no Deadpool or other quirky characters – which shrinks the roster down from 48 in UMVC3 to 30 in MVCI. There are a handful of new characters to even things out, though, such as Gamora (who, weirdly, isn’t anything like her GOTG movie version …), Thanos, Captain Marvel, and Ultron as well as Jedah from Darkstalkers on the Capcom side. The roster is kinda lame, to be honest, and only having 4 women total is a major letdown.

The previous Marvel vs. Capcom games didn’t really have much of a storyline going on. It was just a fantasy matchup of cool characters and that was all it needed to be. Infinite, on the other hand, has a full cinematic story mode that tries to justify this clashing of universes, and it is incredibly goofy. Marvel villain Ultron has fused with Mega Man X villain Sigma which has caused the two disparate universes to meld together into one. Not only does this bring the characters together, but it also means there aren’t any distinct Capcom or Marvel levels anymore as they are now strange hybrids of concepts from both.

The weirdest thing about the story is that it is trying to be super serious Marvel movie nonsense, but there are doofy Capcom characters present that don’t fit in at all. When it is just Marvel characters talking to each other it seems perfectly normal, but when they then turn to freaking Arthur from Ghosts and Goblins or any of the other Capcom characters who look like weird mutants compared to the realistic Marvel characters things just get dumb. It is like the cringiest bad fan fiction you can think of. I’m not a fan.

I’m also not a fan of how the presentation has changed. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 had a great art style with thick lines that made it look like a comic book come to life. The menus were stylish and cool looking and it felt like a full package. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, on the other hand, makes a lot of characters look more like cheap knock off plastic toys than anything realistic. Body proportions are all out of wack, faces are weirdly ugly, and the animation is stiff. Like you’re playing with plastic figures. Some characters do look better than others – newcomers Gamora and Captaim Marvel in particular look much better than the characters brought over from previous games – but overall the game just doesn’t look great.

It is a good thing, then, that Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite plays really, really well. At first blush it seems like it has been streamlined and oversimplified to appeal to a casual crowd, but that isn’t the case at all. Yes, there are now easy auto combos executed simply by mashing the “X” button, but even if they look flashy and powerful they only do a fraction of the damage manual combos can achieve. And, of course, there are still loads of manual combos and special moves and hyper combos and crazy tag moves and other things for fighting game vets to discover and execute. This allows casual players to mash away and have a good time, but there is also plenty of depth for more experienced players as well.

A lot of the gameplay depth comes from key changes made to the Marvel vs. Capcom formula. Before a match you can now choose an Infinity Stone – Space, Time, Reality, Mind, Power, Soul – and you’ll gain access to new abilities and special moves depending on what you pick. The infinity stones can be used to do things like allow characters to teleport, regain health, and other things they can’t normally do. This opens up the combat by giving you new combos and strategies depending on what stone you choose. The infinity stones can also be used as this game’s version of “X-Factor” by granting you a tremendous short-term advantage as a comeback mechanic. Other gameplay changes include a switch to just four buttons – two light and two heavy attacks -, easier to chain (but harder to execute due to small timing windows) juggle moves, and the ability to tag in your partner immediately mid-combo to chain together some absurdly great attacks. All of this comes together to create a fighting experience that is a little more open and freeform where any team seems viable and fun to use. It feels a little slower and different from UMVC3, and that’s a good thing.

There is plenty of content to enjoy in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite as well. In addition to the story mode there are training modes, arcade mode, challenges, and local and online multiplayer. Unlike, say, Street Fighter V that launched without much to do besides fighting online, MVCI is fully featured for multiplayer and solo play from the start.

All in all, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is a bit of a mixed bag but it gets the important stuff right. The presentation isn’t great, the story mode is awful, and the character roster leaves a lot to be desired – especially compared to past MVC games – but the core gameplay is rock solid. Don’t let the auto combos and easy execution fool you, either, as there is a ton of depth and rewarding strategy to unearth as you really start digging into the mechanics. This makes it a great accessible game for newcomers and something hardcore fight fans can really sink their teeth into. I wish the overall package was better, but I can’t argue with the gameplay quality on offer here. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is worth a look for MCU and fight fans alike. Buy it.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.