There’s a lot of unfounded hand-wringing about the loss of digital games as the industry moves forward. I’ve got a pretty sizable Steam account, for instance, and I’m not especially concerned about Valve one day shutting down the service and leaving me incapable of accessing any of my games; likewise, even the ancient Wii Shop Channel still works despite the console’s other online features being shut down. It’s possible we’ll lose games in the future, but I don’t think it’ll be a common thing; we have, though, seen bizarre licensing issues rear their ugly head, making it difficult to purchase certain games at times.
Victims of this include the Deadpool game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan and, until just recently, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3; how fortunate that that last one is now available on PlayStation 4 (be patient, true believers, as lucky Xbox One fans will get their fight on later in March!).
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is an update to the original MvC3, adding a few new characters and tossing in some balance tweaks to mix up the gameplay a little. It’s a 3-on-3 fighter that pits characters from Marvel and Capcom properties against one another in improbable fights to the death. All your favorites are here, except Cyclops because I guess he’s not anybody’s favorite anymore (*sniffle*), as well as some lesser-known faces like She-Hulk and Super-Skrull on the Marvel side and Nathan Spencer (from the Bionic Commando reboot) and Amaterasu (from Zelda-ish adventure Okami) on the Capcom side.
Marvel vs. Capcom is a pretty iconic series these days, and I’m sure those of you of a certain age can remember being blown away by the first two titles in arcades. 3 continues that tradition, though you may or may not love the new cel-shaded polygonal presentation. As for gameplay, MvC is all about synergy, in particular building a team of three characters that can shore up each other’s weaknesses and build on each other’s strengths.
The pace is much quicker than many other fighters, and the fact that you’ll need to be familiar with three characters at once rather than one makes it a more difficult game to get the hang of early on. I found this game to be much more difficult to wrap my head around than something like BlazBlue or Guilty Gear Xrd, both of which reward players who “go deep” into learning a single character rather than three.
This release is interesting, of course, because it represents the return of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to digital download services after the game was unceremoniously removed in 2013; a nice reminder that what Big Brother giveth, Big Brother can taketh away. It’s also the first time the game has appeared on a current-generation console, assuming you don’t count the PS Vita in that lineup. It runs and plays about as nicely as you would expect, so there are few complaints on that front, and it’s certainly as gorgeous as ever – depending on your view of polygonal graphics vs. sprites.
Keeping in mind the big reason the game was relaunched, namely the announcement and upcoming release of the series’ fourth game Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, this serves as a great way to get your feet wet with the series if you’re new or revisit old fighting friends if you’re a long-time fan. Infinite’s launch is slated for some point this year, so you’ve got some time to soak up and enjoy Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom until then. Grab a friend, hop online and get to battling. Just don’t expect to do it as Cyclops. Le sigh.