Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (PS Vita)
The Marvel vs. Capcom franchise is viewed by many as one of the best in the fighting genre and by some as the best. When we looked at the most recent versions last year in the form of Fate of Two Worlds and Ultimate we found them to be excellent with the original offering a fantastic balance of gameplay and presentation which was hard to beat. The Ultimate edition tweaked the visuals and added additional content such as a significant chunk of new characters, doing so at a low cost which made it an essential purchase for those who didn't have the first game.
For their sole PS Vita launch title Capcom have chosen to port Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom to Sony's new handheld and in the process enhance the game by adding touch controls.
So, let's take a step back for a moment and discuss what Marvel Vs Capcom 3: The Fate of Two Worlds, the basis for this game, actually was...
From the get go Marvel vs Capcom 3 had an arcade game feel, from the brilliantly retro main menu and hypnotising flashing lights to the crazy Japanese music it made the player feel like they were battling friends in a Tokyo arcade. As with most fighting simulators there was a range of different game modes and it's wise for any newcomers to start out on training mode as getting to grips with each of the fighters takes a lot of time and practice, that is of course if we don't plan on button mashing our way through every fight.
Once players are up to scratch with at least the basics of the game the fun can begin. Matches are fought in a three vs. three situation and players may select fighters from either the Capcom or the Marvel roster, and with a large number fighters to choose from there is no shortage of strategies and plans. All of the usual suspects pop up including the likes of the Hulk, Spiderman, Wolverine, Ryu, Dante, Magneto and of course, Captain America.
Arcade mode is perhaps the most interesting for anyone who is at all anal about their games and likes to know the full juicy back story behind each character. After fighting through five stages - which range in difficulty depending on which mode selected - players will come up against the dreaded Galactus in the final fight for plant earth. If players prove their worth by defeating Galactus they will be rewarded with a number of unlocks depending on which fighter they used to strike the final blow.
The "Mission Mode" is for players who have learned the basics and would like to begin their journey into the world of advanced fighting techniques and special moves. With the opportunity to take each fighter through their own unique Mission Mode players will spend hours learning every detail of said fighter. At level one things are kept relatively simple with 2 or 3 button moves and combo's, however as we progress things become extremely complex, with a wealth of moves in each fighters locker consisting of 7, 8 or even 9 button combo's.
So that was the original game, the Ultimate version saw Capcom retain the arcade feel and modes of the previous instalment but the characters increased from 38 to 50 and the interface was tweaked too. New additions included Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider and Nemesis T-Type with each having the same detailed work on their animations, back story and unlockables as the original characters.
An additional mode, Heroes and Heralds
was also added in the update. This was a team-based mode where players earn new abilities with upgrade cards, customise their characters with new powers, and compete in groups as either the Heroes defending Earth or as one of Galactus Heralds. The new mode also gave us access to play Galactus, who was a non-playable boss character in the first instalment, and still is the boss in this version.
For the PS Vita all of the above game modes are included, as are all of the characters, levels and as far as we could see, unlockables. We get Vita Trophies as with all of the platforms games in addition to the game unlocks and online functionality is available. In online mode we can fight ad-hoc against a nearby player or go onto the PlayStation Network and play through Heroes and Heralds online against other Vita users (including custom matches).
It is also worth noting that those with 3G Vita's can of course do all of this wherever they are, including keeping up with the latest stats. Additionally we can share DLC content with our PS3 copy of the game as well as use the Vita as an Ultimate Controller, linking with our PS3. Ultimate Controller see's our Vita connect wirelessly to the PS3 and as well as using our Vita buttons to control the PS3 onscreen action the Vita touch screen turns into four extra buttons we can execute moves with plus a centre X Factor button.
For most handhelds that would be the lot, this is of course the PS Vita and so as with the other launch games for the console touch controls have been implemented for the main gameplay. Touch mode is accessed through the Offline Menu and is a game style on its own and reasonably intuitive. Swipe up to jump, diagonal to jump forward and down to crouch. Tap the opponent to start executing moves and switch to our teammates by tapping their thumbnail on the status bar.
Graphics and Audio
Upon loading Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom we are presented with an intro and menu system which are near identical to the PS3/X360 version. This is a sign of things to come because throughout the game Capcom have clearly tried as hard as possible to bring across as much of the content from the larger consoles as possible.
There are obviously some tweaks on the graphics front for the Vita so although the levels are all present the detail in the backgrounds is reduced. For example there are less moving objects, though some remain, and the characters appear a little lower in detail. This is especially true of the silver costume versions which accompany Galactus on the final stage, that particular style doesn't translate as well as it could.
That said the game still looks great, with bright vibrant colours and the mix of 2D/3D visuals which were so successfully implemented on PS3/360.
On the audio front Capcom has also gone with the same feel as the larger formats; the great arcade style music making an appearance here too. In fight sounds are also recreated well with the character catchphrases etc making their way over from the PS3/360 too.
When playing Virtua Tennis and FIFA Football on Vita we commented on how well SEGA and EA have done at moving a home console experience to the PS Vita. Capcom have attempted the same and could well have produced the best result of the three in terms of content. All of the game modes, characters and levels which we found to be impressive on the PS3/360 are present here and the quality, other than some performance forced changes, has remained.
The core gameplay remains the same too and that means we have a fast paced but well balanced fight mechanic that suits the PS Vita incredibly well. Button mashers will get some fun from the game but the real reward is in learning each fighters style, skills and weaknesses to maximise our potential in fights.
Where the game is less successful is in the implementation of touch controls and Capcom's decision to keep them in a separate game mode could well signal that they felt this wasn't quite the game for touch as well. That said it is absolutely worth trying them out as they offer an interesting demonstration of touch input in fighting games... and touch makes it super easy to execute combo moves which do look cool. Elsewhere on the Vita front the ability to use the console as an Ultimate Controller on PS3 is another interesting concept, though probably not for the hardcore player.
Online functionality within the game is decent, being able to play against other Vita players always adds longevity and Capcom seem to be adding plenty of downloadable content to the game which also adds value.
A great example of how to port a PS3/360 title to PS Vita. The touch controls do seem a little bolted on and yes, we have seen the game before but everything we loved then is present here... and it's a million times better than Reality Fighters.
Looks great, sounds great and plays great.