It started in your local arcade and all these years later, the franchise is still going strong in your very own living room.
Twenty-one years ago it all began with the ground-breaking X-Men vs. Street Fighter and since then the Marvel Vs. Capcom series has grown in leaps in bounds starring an array of Marvel and Capcom characters from Captain America to Arthur from Ghosts ‘n Goblins.
With the arrival of both Mortal Kombat X and the Injustice series, the bar has been raised quite high when it comes to console fighting games. ‘Infinite’, the latest in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, surpasses expectations in some ways and will leave fans disappointed in others.
The biggest change is that the three-on-three format has been scrapped for a slick tag-team structure with the power of Marvel’s Infinity Stones essentially replacing the third combatant. Character assists have been removed and replaced with automatic and immediate tags that result in continuous combos. Players can also use some of their Hyper Combo Gauge to Counter Switch which tags in a partner to possibly break up a combo and launch a counter attack. This system works so well, one wonders why it wasn’t the system of choice to begin with. Let’s hope it becomes the standard going forward.
With the idea of allowing morons like me who don’t have the time nor the initiative to commit complicated combos to memory, ‘Infinite’ has an “auto combo” system using the light and heavy attack buttons. While some dyed-in-the-wool purists may balk at making the game more accessible, these changes do open the experience to a wider audience. Perhaps in future editions including multiple control, gameplay choices might satisfy everyone, sort of like they have done with the WWE wrestling/fighting franchise.
Just like in the Marvel comics, the Infinity Stones are six formidable gems that contain devastating power on their own but are even more dangerous when united. In the classic comic book series, The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos gathered all of the stones and became almost indestructible until a team of heroes led by The Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange and Adam Warlock threw a sonic screwdriver or two into his plans.
In the game, the Power Stone increases damage and destroys projectiles, the Mind Stone stuns foes and regenerates the Hyper Combo Gauge, the Soul Stone drains health and revives fallen heroes, the Time Stone initiates a dash attack and increased speed, the Space Stone pulls opponents towards you and traps them in a box and the Reality Stone creates a heat-seeking attack of sorts and elemental attacks. In the place of the traditional Capcom Vs. Marvel third combatant, the Power Stones are a two-edged sword. They do create another tactic to use but they are also another combat component to contend with.
In Campaign Mode, Marvel robotic baddie Ultron and Mega Man’s nemesis Sigma unite to become Ultron Sigma. Barring the really unoriginal name, Ultron Sigma uses the Space and Reality Stones to merge the Marvel and Capcom universes but the move also unites the heroes against them to see who can find the other Infinity Stones first. This fusing of worlds creates interesting and wacky combinations such as A.I.M.brella: a mash-up of Marvel’s A.I.M. and Resident Evil’s Umbrella Corporation.
While it is fun to play through and has a bit more depth here and there than you might expect, it is still transparently clear that the campaign is nothing more than a string of frail cut-scenes, excuses to set-up the next clash. Sort of like how in those old seventies Kung-fu movies starring Bruce Lee or Gordon Liu, all someone had to so was spill coffee on someone, accidentally bump into them or look at them the wrong way to spark a duel to the death. The use of timed battles, waves of opponents and two-on-one fights instead of relying solely on tag-team battles does break things up though.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite does trip on its cape when it comes to the playable roster. With 30 playable characters out of the box and many of those seen in previous instalments, the roster is somewhat disappointing and seems recycled especially since the developers had both the Marvel and Capcom universes to draw upon. Especially noticeable by their absences are any of the X-Men. Whether because of the infamous film rights struggle or not, the exclusion of Cyclops, Gambit, Wolverine, Storm, Cable, Rogue, Juggernaut, Magneto and others does have an impact on the game especially for long-time fans.
Some of the character design leaves something to be desired as well, especially when it comes to the faces of Captain America, Thor and others. Their skin looks like melted plastic and their features are pugish, pinched and squeezed. They look like more like store-bought action figures than real-life heroes.
All in all, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is like those X-Men movies Marvel, Fox and Disney continue to quarrel about. There is some good and there is some bad, but overall they are faithful to the spirit of the series. Although there are some contentious changes and some flaws, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite has more of slam-bang frantic action that fans have to come to love and expect from the series.
- THE GOOD
- Improvements to gameplay
- Infinity Stone powers
- A decent campaign
- THE BAD
- Some dreadful character models
- Reused characters, missing characters
Despite some flaws and debatable changes, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite still delivers.