Of all fighting game crossovers, the Marvel vs Capcom series has always been the most entertaining.
Aside from sporting the most diverse casts of characters, they’ve continually had explosive, over-the-top and utterly chaotic gameplay. The newest in the series, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, doesn’t break the mould, but it does reign things in. Just a little.
As you’d expect of a totally new game, the fighting mechanics have been rightly tampered with, and for the better in my opinion. The three-on-three battles of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 have been discarded, with the action now being two-on-two. Also, there are no longer light, medium and strong attacks with a button dedicated to launching your opponent in the air; you now have light and strong punches and kicks. And finally, both crossover combinations and assists have been thrown out of the window.
Despite what are pretty big changes though, combat retains a familiar feel. Launch attacks can still be performed and followed up with a flurry of aerial blows to cause massive damage, and thanks to the new quick switch mechanic, your team member can be brought in mid-combo to continue where you left off. It all just feels a little less chaotic and more grounded, leading to more thoughtful battles. What really sets Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite apart from its predecessors though is the introduction of six Infinity Stones, of which one can be chosen to take into battle with you.
The stones – containing the power of Space, Time, Power, Mind, Soul and Reality – each afford your duo of characters two abilties. Infinity Surges are essentially special actions or moves that can be used frequently, while the buff-like Infinity Storms can only be used when your Infinity Stone gauge has enough charge. Experimenting with each of the stones to discover for yourself just what they do and in what circumstances they are highly effective is recommended, as they can really affect the outcome of a battle when used correctly.
Take the Infinity Stone of Time, for instance. Its Infinity Surge warps you across the screen, negating any projectiles thrown your way. You can even use it to warp behind your opponent, allowing you get some hits in if they aren’t quick to react. Meanwhile, activating its Infinity Storm allows you to combo together attacks that you normally wouldn’t be able to, allowing you to create your own combos. Paired with slower, stronger characters, the results can be devastating.
Add in a couple of standard features such as auto-combos, advancing guards and hypercombos, and Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite‘s combat becomes something which has considerable depth despite its brash showiness. Finding your dream team is one thing, but then matching them up with an Infinity Stone that complements or enhances their abilities is another. There’s more choice, more strategy, and it all just leads to more fun.
In terms of content it’s no slouch either. As well as the six Infinity Stones, you have 30 characters at your disposal; a mixture of faces both old and new. Favourites such as Ryu, Spider-Man and Rocket Raccoon make a return, alongside fresh meat such as Jedah Dohma and Ultron. And initially there are 10 stages to do battle on, with a further six to unlock by playing through the game’s story mode.
Speaking of which, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite‘s story mode is likely to divide opinion. Running at around three hours long, I liked it for what it is – a ridiculous romp that tries to bring some unnecessary reasoning to the game – but many will find it simply pointless. In any case, it’s rather harmless, and worth playing through just to unlock some titles and stages. The fact that there’s no chapter select, only the option to start the story from the beginning again, is it’s worse offence.
Aside from its story mode, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite has all the usual features you’d expect. Arcade, versus, training and mission modes are all present, and of course, the all-important online suite. You can play ranked and casual matches quickly and easily, and there’s also a nifty beginner’s league for those new to the game to find their feet. Many online players will probably spend their time in a lobby, however, spectating and jumping into matches at their leisure.
While Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 was released on Xbox One and PS4 a while ago, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is the first game in the series truly made for next gen. Visually, however, you’d be forgiven for not believing it. Some of the characters’ faces are alarmingly iffy – looking at you Dante – and the visuals just don’t impress like they should. Playing the Xbox One version for review, the biggest issue for me was the image quality – it looks like the screen has been smeared with vaseline. On the flip side though, the game does run with a silky smooth framerate. Hopefully the image quality will be improved when playing on an Xbox One X later this year.
Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite‘s presentation is disappointing too. After Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3‘s brilliant presentation, it’s jarring to be met with boring, static menus that are merely functional. Still, the game’s murky visuals and sub-par presentation aren’t something you should get too hung up about: Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is about fighting, not gawking, and the action doesn’t disappoint one bit.
I have to admit, my first impressions of Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite weren’t good. As I continued to play and got my head around its new systems though, it well and truly won me over. It may not be the prettiest fighting game on the market today, but it’s undoubtedly the most fun. And that’s what video games are supposed to be, right, fun? You can get hung up on the notion that some of the faces look a bit scary, or that the story mode is stupid or that the image quality is poor, but they are all pretty superficial problems. Look under the skin, and you’ll find a fighting game that’s not only beautiful, but also has a joyous soul.