It’s Marvel baby. The game that you have most likely seen on store shelves for around $80-100 is now available on Xbox Live (and soon to be PSN) for $15. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is unlike most fighting games out there right now, despite having an original release date in 2002. It features 56 playable characters from both Marvel and Capcom universes, each with unique and diverse fighting styles. Comic book fans and video games lovers can rejoice as they see their favorite characters battle. Marvel’s quick and simple game play has made this game easy for new players to pick up, but also has enough depth for pro players to learn and innovate from. So whether you consider yourself a hardcore fighting gamer or a hardcore button masher, this game will give you the satisfaction that can only be gained from fighters.
The control scheme of Marvel is what makes it so easy to pick up and play. No longer is there the typical light/medium/hard punch button layout that became so popular with Street Fighter. The six button layout consists of 4 buttons for normal attacks and 2 buttons for assists. This game has very ‘loose’ controls, and it doesn’t take much accuracy to pull off special moves. In games like Super Street Fighter Turbo HD, even throwing a simple quarter-circle forward move becomes a struggle for newcomers. Marvel is much different in that sense, and has given it its ‘mashing game’ reputation. Even the hyper combos (which are the super attacks) are as easy as throwing a hadouken. Performing a hyper is so effortless that you can add it into a combo while racking up huge damage. It is even possible to link hyper combos with your other 2 characters’ hypers, so combos can even get into the hundreds. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is known for being over the top and flashy, and the hyper combos are mostly what give it that excitement. While other games focus more on technical aspects, Marvel is there for cheap thrills and crazy combos.
What really separates Marvel vs. Capcom 2 from most other 2D fighters is that it has done away with the traditional 1v1 battles (or the 2v2 of its predecessor). You select 3 characters from the already unlocked 56 available characters, for an exciting 3 on 3 battle. The fact that you have more than one character at your disposal gives Marvel vs. Capcom 2 its depth. By simply pressing your assist button, one of your supporting characters will jump into view and perform an attack. You can’t go throwing assists out whenever you feel like, because after they attack they throw out a taunt, leaving them vulnerable to normal attacks and even hypers. Each character has three different assists, so finding the team and assist types that works well becomes an experiment. For example, you could choose Ryu to use a fireball as a projectile, or a shoryuken as an anti-air. The combinations seem endless, with tons of teams and strategies available. A simple Wiki search will show the top tier combinations that the competitive pros use, to the worst possible ‘Team Suck’.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has been known for its gigantic roster. It features characters from the well-known Spider-Man, to Jill Valentine (Resident Evil Series), to Mega Man’s little sister Roll. With each character you pick, you are getting an entirely different fighting game experience. Each character has a different special moves and hypers that are unique to themselves. For example, Storm’s hyper has her emitting powerful lighting bolts in all directions, while Venom’s will entrap you in spider webs while he attacks you. It’s hard to get bored with this game when there is so much diversity.
Where the pros stand apart from the beginners is the understanding of the little things. Air combos, tech rolls and hyper armor are factors in the game that the casual player will overlook and never fully utilize. They add tons of depth to the game and take hours in practice mode to understand. The most important (I’ve discovered) is using air combos. Each character has a launcher (usually a normal attack) that will shoot the opponent up in the air. You then can jump up and juggle them by using both normal and special attacks. While very satisfying to complete, they are incredibly difficult to pull off. Timing and dexterity are definitely needed in that aspect of the game. Button mashers will always get beat by someone who knows what they’re doing (though you’ll probably throw out some crazy stuff in the process.)
For a game that is around 7 years old, the graphics looks okay. While I don’t see graphics being a huge deal with fighting games, they can add to the experience. Street Fighter IV and BlazBlue both had stunning graphics and interesting art styles, which I think enhanced the games. The graphics for Marvel vs. Capcom 2 look surprisingly smooth and lack pixilation. It looks about as good as Super Street Fighter Turbo HD, so no complaints here.
Being such a Street Fighter 4 fanatic, I was excited for a change of scenery. I figured Marvel vs. Capcom 2 would be my new fighting game to tackle and learn all the tiny technical aspects. But, as I learned more and more about it, the more I saw how much I preferred Street Fighter 4. Marvel is a very quick game, where you have tons of characters on the screen at once, air juggles left and right, and at least 5 hyper combos per match. While this sounds like a lot of fun, I prefer the strategy and pace of Street Fighter. I like learning the priorities, block stun, and focus attack dash cancels over air juggles and assist. I like the focus of 1v1 and trying to guess what your opponent will do next, rather than mashing my buttons as hard as I can to complete my air combos. So if you love intense, flashy battles, or maybe just shouting random obscenities, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is perfect. But, I just see this game being too over the top for my tastes. I will continue to play and learn this game, because it’s a ton of fun, though I won’t be spending the amount of time on this game that I have on Street Fighter 4. So ask yourself, “Where’s yo curleh mustache at?” and pick up this classic fighter for 15 bucks.