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Review

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (PS Vita)

Cross-over fighting game fans waited more than a decade for the legendary battles between the Capcom and Marvel universes to resume. It was well worth it with the resulting game mixing the classic style of over-the-top combos with updated visuals and even more frenetic matches. Its solid gameplay mechanics, deep moves system and endless character combinations meant there was plenty of substance underneath its flash. While itís a decent fighter, its also another version of a game that you might have already played. Read on and discover whether the PS Vita port is worth it.

Two groups of super-heroes clash yet again in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, a cross-over between the famous Capcom and Marvel franchises. Itís a great fighting game and players will probably be most impressed initially by its large roster of characters. From the Marvel universe, players will be able to choose from well-known stars such as Spider-man, Captain America, Thor and new characters like Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Ghost Rider and Nova to name just a few. Capcom fans will also see old favorites including Ryu, Chun-Li and Morrigan along with new characters including Frank West from Dead Rising, and the battling lawyer himself, Phoenix Wright. This selection provides plenty of variety in terms of fig hting styles, moves and attacks. Each character brings a different set of abilities to the match, and there are endless combinations and strategies you can use. While many moves can be performed simply in the new game, thereís plenty of variables between the characters, so you have to balance them out. This approach means you have endless options when it comes to your fighting styles before the matches even begin. This gives you plenty to think about when youíre choosing youíre 3-character teams. Once you begin combat, youíll find the controls and interface work exactly as they should, with the fuild, intuitive controls players have come to expect from Capcom.

Players have the basic moves such as punches and kicks right away with some trademark attacks for each character as well. You can also call in another character to aid you in battle briefly, which is one of the more appealing aspects of these cross-over games. The gameplay mechanics are fairly traditional by Capcom standards, and the game definitely has that familiar feeling. The attacks you use are effective if you know when and where to use them. Knowing your opponentsí vulnerabilities is a good way to keep yourself ahead of them. The standard attacks are fun to use and intuitive. While these can do some damage, the real key to the game is knowing when to unleash the seriesí trademark combos and super attacks. These build up gradually as you battle your opponent, and can then be used to inflict massive attacks on your opponents. Each character has their own super-gauge and the higher it goes, the more devastating the attack is going to be. When you use these, your opponent can try and block them, but theyíre usually unstoppable, and youíre more than likely to make contact, though occasionally you might burst at the wrong moment and fail to make contact. When youíre character runs low on energy, you can call-in one of your team-mates to take their place, though once theyíve been knocked out of the round, they canít be called back to the match.

One of the more accessible fighting games on the market, UMC3 doesnít drown in complexity like many of its contemporaries. You can unleash combo moves with simple button presses, call in reinforcements and perform super combos quite easily. This makes for deliriously overwrought battles where the majority of time is spent trading mega-attacks, with only a few traditional punches and kicks thrown in. Moving the characters into position is easy using either the traditional d-pad or analog stick while the face buttons are used to perform standard attacks. Making things simpler is the command structure, which relies on timing more than combinations. You can still perform some massive attacks with elaborate moves, but the effort is mostly in the timing and shaping of each battleís super-moves. The PS Vitaís design is nicely suited to this type of fighter, but the developers have added an interesting new feature that allows players to use the touch screen to control the fighters. Tapping the screen allows you to move the characters on-screen, while swiping the screen in the general direction of opponents allows you to perform the super moves. Itís a fairly intuitive system and easy to use, though your thumbs might get in the way of the action at points. UMC 3ís touch-screen controls are fun to use, though they donít allow you to perform some of the more advanced super moves, which is a little bit annoying for those veteran players. However, it is fun to use and should help beginners get into the gameplay mechanics a bit quicker. It definitely has that classic Capcom feel throughout, and players looking for energetic, deep gameplay wonít be disappointed.

Those who expected a watered-down edition of the game on a handheld will be surprised to learn that this edition includes an impressive array of features. Standard modes such as arcade, versus and training are here as youíd expect, but the game also includes numerous extra modes. Some of these are Vita exclusives, such as the new Heralds mode, where you attack with teams and other modes that allow you to challenge opponents online, see your ranking in leaderboards and set up matches with friends. Playing through the game a few times will give you access to  unlockabled content and other modes of play as well. You can also download extra content through the PSN that includes extra costumes, colors and characters. All of this makes for a deep and extensive game that offers plenty of replay value and gives players the flexibility to play for a short time, or go deeper into the game and put their skills to more challenges.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is no slouch in the visual department either, with a solid frame-rate throughout that keeps the action flowing smoothly. An impressive graphics engine means the characters, while richly-detailed animate fluidly throughout and make the game feel quite frenetic. As youíd expect, the design is bright and colorful throughout and the army of characters means you rarely find battles that repeat themselves. Its one of the best looking Vita titles to date and its strong port means it feels almost arcade-perfect. The smaller screen does feel a little scrunched, this particularly affects the on-screen text in some areas, which can be hard to read. However, these are only minor problems that donít detract from gameplay materially. Capcom has done an excellent job porting Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to the Vita. Itís quick burst, frenetic play, over-the-top combos and dazzling 2.5D graphics make it perfectly suited to Sonyís new hand-held. Itís robust online mode allows players to compete online with little lag, while adding new modes that allow you to watch other wild matches while building your own position on the leaderboards. Itís slick presentation and graphics look fantastic on the systemís screen. The typically intuitive controls of cross-over fighters are here, offering both button mashing, (or screen-tapping) accessible fun for casual players along with plenty of depth for hardcore gamers. Itís a great fighting game overall, and UMC 3 packs quite a punch in its small package.

Ė Michael Palisano

Grade: B

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