Tomorrow marks the re-release for yet another of Capcom's fighting games. I know what you're thinking, why would anyone want to re-purchase a game they thought they had already paid for? A valid question and an astute observation at that.
I remember when Super Street Fighter II hit stores and the confusion I felt when I learned that my Street Fighter II Turbo cart had become obsolete. Wasn't the latter cart supposed to be the definitive edition? True, SSF II was an improved version of the game with new content, but my twelve year old brain could not understand why that content was not included in the original. Twice.
On the flip side, SF II was so good that my mind was almost equally blown with the possibility of more of this awesome game. This was enough to sway me to make the new purchase and ended up being worth it in the end.
Today, at 32 I was again faced with the same question. To buy or not to buy? This time with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and the vs. series. Capcom didn't disappoint me when I was 12 so I was willing to take that gamble again and I am very glad that I did.
UMvC3 brings back all of the good of its core game. 3 on 3 tag team dream matches, slick as oil animation and a deep buttery combo system. All that you loved about MvC3 remains with some badass new additions.
Most noticeable would be the extended roster, bringing the number of combatants up to a whopping 48. I was a little worried that the bump in fighters might cause my childhood favorites Nova and Dr. Strange to wind up becoming pretty looking side sauce for the fully realized original cast. Gladly this is not the case. Each is blended exceptionally well into the vs. universe with inspired move sets that place new spins on styles of play while having fun with the nuances of each new character and the nature of his historical continuity.
Frank West, fights with plungers, shopping carts and even zombies straight from his stint in Dead Rising. His "Tools of Survival" move set will feel familiar to Chris Redfield players who will enjoy Frank's slight boost to speed. Ghost Rider is a great point man with his ethereal flaming chains and breath of fire. His high damage output and ranged normals will keep your foes away while you take control of the screen. Phoenix Wright may seem out of place with his dopey courtroom antics but its most entertaining to see a normally text based skill set come to life in real time. Watch as he combos with banana peels, paperwork and evidence while "Pressing the Witness" into a knockout. He is tricky to use and his 3 meter hyper combo requires you to fill a separate "evidence meter' but in the right hands he can humiliate any opponent.
I'm not going to hash out the linguistics of each new fighter as you can do that yourself but rest assured that they are all well balanced additions to the roster with thoughtful move sets that validate the their respective source materials.
A new take on presentation has the menus vamped up and pretty as ever. You navigate the menus like turning the pages of a comic book. Even the character select resembles book form making the the entire experience feel like a big blockbuster campaign.
In addition, The art direction adds new stages and art to the gallery as well as remixed music, making UMvC3 look and feel like a living, breathing comic book. The understated opening sets the tone for the game which making it feel like a sequel or epilogue to the original.
The same modes return as do their functions. The Offline Mode gives access to single player Arcade (story matches) for the cast, versus allows for local matches. You can also hone your skills in Training Mode and master the art of timing for your favorites in Mission Mode.
The online features remain with lobbies, leader boards, and player and ranked matches. The gallery also returns with enhanced character bios that pop by using the in-game character models instead of flat stills. All character bios appear to be available for viewing from the outset, with out the need to finish the game with each individual fighter.
I must add that the whole experience is enhanced even further by the speedy load times. You will hardly wait for more than a single second between screens. One of my biggest gripes with the original was that you were forced to sit through a DLC auto check every time you booted. Thankfully we now have the option to check or ignore the obligatory in game "Point of Sale."
So am I happy with my purchase of this lovingly crafted upgrade to my favorite fighter of last year? Absolutely. I am very pleased with this decidedly "Ultimate" package that makes an already kick-ass game even better with thoughtful new additions to the cast, a rebalance of mechanics and a nice twist of artistic direction that makes this game feel like the final issue of a year long series crossover.
It is available tomorrow everywhere for $39.99.