With great power comes… an alright game
Game: Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite
Reviewed on: PS4 (Review code provided)
Enter Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, the latest instalment in the world-colliding series where comic superheroes fight a fairly rag-tag selection of Capcom’s intellectual properties. Indeed, the Capcom side of the roster seems a bit less cohesive and balanced than the Marvel side. While the latter obviously draws heavily on its current and future popular movie characters, and so is predominantly Avengers members, Capcom seem like they’re bringing the weaker side to the fight, and some of that team feel as though they aren’t really pulling their weight. It’s hard to imagine Nemesis from Resident Evil 3 being any use in a fist-fight, and he isn’t. His actual nemesis, Chris Redfield, may be a man-mountain in Racoon City but next to the actual Hulk he seems a little less imposing and perhaps less interesting. I mean, Hulk can grab an asteroid from space and bring it back to earth on his opponent’s head. Chris Redfield has a shotgun.
Marvel having honed their characters to mainstream success with cinema audiences has definitely benefitted the voicing and personalities of its roster. While not voiced by Holland, Downey Jr and so forth, the versions of the Avengers presented here borrow heavily from those big-screen successes. The quips from Spider-Man, Iron Man and various other mans come quick and fast, and generally hit the mark to raise a grin during all the violent chaos. What’s less appreciated is the character’s insistence on announcing every move they do as they do it. It happens at the same time as the attack is triggered so it doesn’t give anything away, but it seems far less necessary, more like aural filler, than the one-liners and other dialogue.
In fact the game as a whole is dressed nicely; the score is a bit obnoxious but it’s certainly dramatic enough to match the action in the game, and things generally look great, especially compared to the muted hues of the other superhero brawler on the market, Injustice. Sometimes it fares a little less well, however. As was covered after the game’s announcement, some of the characters look a little worse for wear. Dante, usually quite a handsome chap all told, would probably get a left swipe on Tinder in this incarnation. Captain Marvel suffers from some stiff animation when floating around the screen.
But the crux of this interdimensional kegger is not the bantz, but the scrapping, and for the most part it’s solid, satisfying and occasionally ridiculous. There’s a good impact-feel to connecting punches and kicks, and many of the more complicated moves, such as the hyper combos, have easy shortcut inputs for beginners to be able to still trigger those earth-shattering signatures too (although it’s worth pointing out the enemy AI will block this 99% of the time, rendering that easy input fairly useless). You can also pick up a helping hand by choosing an Infinity Stone before you begin, each of which has a different buff for you to deploy during the match. These also form the basis of the story as you set out to grab them all before Ultron Sigma, a comically evil robot who probably just wants them to accessorise his dull metal outfit.
Aside from the usual beat-em-up arcade mode where you power your way through CPU opponents, the single-player options also include the Story Mode, and this is unfortunately where things sometimes veer from chaotic fun to frustration. For reasons not really explained, the universes of Marvel and Capcom have become fused together. What’s even stranger is that everyone involved seems fine with this. Suddenly find themselves in the presence of people from another universe in the opening scenes, everyone just nods and greets each other with a wry nod like this happens all the time. The story is somewhat annoyingly, but also understandably, determined to cram every member of the roster in somewhere though, so in the unlikely event you were after a compelling and cohesive narrative thread then… well, you probably weren’t.
In an attempt to make the story mode feel less like an arcade mode strung together with cut scenes, there are frequently different stipulations and rules to the matches. Sometimes these are timed, which is fine. But a lot of the time these take the form of handicap matches when you have to compete against more than one opponent on screen at once. More often than not this pushes things over the precarious position it holds as being a bit too crazy. The game isn’t responsive enough for this to be any fun, and picking out who you want to target out of your assailants is not an easy thing to do. In addition to this, cut-scenes often present you with large, lumbering beasts of bad guys only for you to have to beat up drones and minions while these leviathans go to work in the background. It’s a little anti-climactic to be pounding your way through Ultron droids when you’ve just seen a 30ft symbiotic monster coming at you.
Another major issue of the story idea is you are perennially playing as different characters with no choice in the matter, beyond the mid-match tag team option. Rather than becoming more familiar with a characters moves as a game goes on or having a favourite, as you usually would, you’re instead constantly on the back foot and often resorting to straight-up button bashing to try and get to grips with a pugilist you’ve never used before and isn’t really your preferred style. I found myself constantly annoyed when forced to battle with a slower, heavier fighter like Hulk or Haggar, when given the choice I’d have taken Spider-Man or Dante.
Taken as an arcade or versus beat-em-up, MvC:I is a decent and solid entry in the series with some good ideas, such as the Infinity Stone buffs, and some great characterisation. Let down by a messy and frustrating story mode, it’s nevertheless a more cheerful alternative to Injustice at the very least.