Ever since X-Men vs. Street Fighter way back in the 1990s, Capcom knows its fans want to be able to fight Ryu with Wolverine. As popularity increased, Capcom expanded the roles from just X-Men and Street Fighter to include various characters from the Marvel and Capcom line up.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (UMvC3) builds upon that initial idea of “what if X fought Y?” As a launch title for the PlayStation Vita, UMvC3 allows you to experience the thrills and enjoyment of the series on the go.
With 36 playable characters, there's no shortage of choice for fans of either company. Each battle is a three versus three fight where players can switch characters in and out in real time. Special combos, juggles and ultimate abilities will vary by team, so selecting a team where each of the characters complement each other can go a long way and provides a level of strategy in each match. While there are definitely better combinations of characters, even novices with no knowledge or experience can pick any three members and still not be at a huge disadvantage. There is a certain level of imbalance that results in a few characters being overpowered, but nothing game-breaking.
In terms of actual combat and flow of the fights, it's less technical than some of Capcom's other fighters, so if you're new to fighting games or don’t enjoy technical titles, you likely could still pick this up and enjoy the combat.
Certain offline game modes even allow you to choose between Simple or Normal combat styles. Simple mode allows combatants to mash all the buttons and watch the combos fly. Selecting either style makes for extremely smooth and responsive controls; even with the limited degree of motion with the Vita’s analogue stick, combos and character control come out extremely fluidly.
New to the Vita edition of UMvC3 is the Touch mode in offline play. As it sounds, Touch mode will let players use the touch screen to beat their opponents with a barrage of swipes and taps of a finger. While this feature is great for individuals who don’t generally find fighters in their stack of games, moderate to hardcore fans will likely skip this feature entirely as there's next-to no challenge involved.
Taking advantage of the Vita’s wealth of control schemes, owners of the PS3 edition of UMvC3 will be able to use their Vita to control the fight on their consoles. While this is an extremely cool feature to show off to friends, the only ‘advantage’ associated with this mode is the ability to activate certain special abilities and team member swaps with the touch of a screen rather than a press of a button.
In addition to standard arcade, training, and mission modes, UMvC3 contains a unique style of fighting in a mode called Heroes & Heralds. In this mode, you’ll use collected cards with abilities to help the characters in battle. After creating a deck of three cards, you’ll go against the opposing team in the fight of good vs. evil, and defeating certain teams unlocks certain new opponents. While this mode has a steep learning curve, it's extremely addictive once mastered.
The Vita edition offers the ability to save and replay online fights, too. While it seems like a minor addition, it greatly helps individuals learn from their mistakes if they take the time to study each hit and combo. Similar to the console game, one can also join only play as a spectator to watch random strangers or friends battle it out.
Matches run incredibly smoothly without slowdown and Vita's OLED display makes the game look arguably better than the console versions. Colours are bright, blacks are black and action is as smooth as ever. The sound effects are set to a great soundtrack and Capcom even included the ability to alternate between English or Japanese voices in certain characters.
Online play only works using Wi-Fi and can sometimes be difficult to find decent matches. Without really stable connections for both players, matches become frustrating to play as slow down and input lag rear their ugly heads. While this is more of a problem with individual connection speeds, any fighting fans will know it’s enough to ruin online play.
Online play offers some of the same modes as offline, including Heroes & Heralds. Similar to other modern Capcom fighters, each player has a unique player card that can be customised with hundreds of titles and avatars. Unlocking all of these is no easy task for even the best fighters, but offers a considerable amount of fun for collectors. Other than titles and avatars, gamers can unlock movies, character story endings, bios, artwork, and costumes, with the ability to share costumes using Near.
UMvC3 on Vita is near-identical to the console editions, so if you already own it at home there isn’t much more here to warrant a purchase. Anyone looking to get into the fighting genre would fare well here: it's not too technical at first, but offers enough gameplay and modes to turn you into a combo-mashing pro while keeping you entertained. Fighting fans looking for a technical game might want to look at the more demanding Blazblue: Continuum Shift Extend for their fix.