Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

by Jinryu

I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing almost every fighting game, coin-op and console, available in North America, even some of the less common ones like Guilty Gear. At the end of the day though, I’m a Capcom fan. Say what you will about King of Fighters games and whatnot, but I feel that when it boils down to it, Capcom produces the real deal.

The latest that I’ve been playing is Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3– Capcom’s really put together something crazy here, in terms of character design and mechanics. The game modes are still kind poor… I mean, if you want a fighting game, that’s about all you get. They did add “Heroes and Heralds” mode that adds a card collecting pokemon aspect to it, but what I kinda want is something like RPG Mode from Street Fighter Alpha 3. But as to the fighting it promises, it’s great.

More than any other fighting game, UMvC3 allows you to do some crazy stylish combos… and not just strings of 40 buttons pushed in a certain sequence. One difference is that combos now include command moves, that is to say, directions presed with an attack button. This is because the traditional 3 punchs and 3 kicks button layout has been replaced by 3 attacks, one “super” attack, and two assist buttons. It’s similar to MvC2, but wheras MvC2 had 2 punches and 2 picks, where you would essentially double on the light punch to produce the medium, UMvC3 just has Light, Medium, and Heavy attacks to begin with.

And while combos used to mostly be jab, strong, fierce (L, M, H) for most characters, UMvC3 really varies that depending on the character. Sure, the old J,S,F combos work for the traditional street fighter characters, but you can do more if you learn the command combos… so for example, many Wolverine uses L, M, L, M, H, S, while Strider Hiryu uses L, M, H, Fwd+H, S as basic fare.

There’s also a lot of opportunity to bounce the opponent, either off the ground or off the walls– this makes for some pretty amazing stuff that relies on “broken” rhythm combos. Performing an infinite loop combo is one thing, but to have it done with a broken rhythm really adds a certain amount of finesse to things– it gives your opponent the opportunity to see the action slow down for a bit, as if the combo is ending, only it’s really just part of the plan to make them feel even more dominated.

Really, they’ve worked hard so that, with the exception of Ryu and Akuma, all the characters are quite distinct from eachother. You can’t play them the same way as you do others, you have to learn their individual combos and tactics. You don’t have a handful of similar characters like in MvC2. They’ve mostly gotten rid of redundant characters.

There are a fair number of characters who do their best damage with counters. I don’t mean something like a dragon punch– I mean a move that requirse your opponent to hit you in order for it to be effective. I used to be a Dudley player in SF3 and SF4, and relied heavily on mixing it up with the counterpunches. It’s a bit tricky in a game this fast paced, so I’m not nearly good with any of it, but I’ve fought some people online who are really good at it– and it frustrates the hell out me because an all out attack is no longer viable, you really have to work to outsmart the opponent. Native countering (as opposed to assist countering) is something that has been sorely lacking in previous MvC games.

Some characters have teleportation built into their combos. For example, Wesker (from Resident Evil) can smack you, and as you’re flying into the wall, he can teleport under you and continue to combo. Although teleportation is pretty cool when used to combo this way (it falls into the category of “broken rhythm comboing” that I was talking about), it has even more application in another area.

It’s not all that useful against the computer, but the main interest of this is in how it totally shakes up and induces mayhem in player versus player games. The basic rule of standard fighting is to control the distance– but teleporting makes distancing an issue of milliseconds rather than seconds. Some characters are better at it than others, but either way, it adds dimensions of variability to the game. For those who don’t have teleports, things have been balanced out with dashing and double jumping abilities.

I wasn’t a huge fan of X-Factor when it first came out, but it does have more application in Ultimate compared to the original version. When you engage X-Factor, you gain chipping armor (you can no longer be chipped for the duration), you start healing recoverable damage on your main character, your assistants heal faster, you become a bit faster, and you hit harder. The worse situation your team is in, the more bonus you get to X-Factor, which makes it a real “tide turner.” Especially because X-factor also has a special ability to cancel blockstun or move recovery of any move– so normally, you wouldn’t be able to chain a shinkuhadoken into another shinkuhadoken– but with X-Factor, you can! Basically do the first one, “cancel” the recovery frames with X-factor, and repeat. It conversely works as universal counter as well– if you’re about to die because ryu has you pinned with a shinkuhadoken that’s chipping away your last pixels of life, you can engage X-Factor while he’s frying you to engage chipping armor. Not only that, but if you have some sort of invincible instant super, you can actually use the millisecond of x-factor cancelling to counterattack! Yes, you can beat a shinkuhadoken, even after it’s started roasting you! X-Factor is somewhat old news, because it was already available in the first version of MvC3, but they’ve changed it so that you can now use it in the air as well.

Phoenix Wright
This deserves a category of mention on it’s own.

Phoenix Wright is, really, just one of the most interesting characters to play in Capcom history. Here he is, in a fighting game– he doesn’t punch or kick, but he essentially handles like a normal street fighter character if you hit the buttons. Where he’s different is that, in the course of a round, he has 2 modes of operation: investigation, and trial mode, just like in his own games. In investigation mode, he can actually search for evidence! I mean, literally, you press the buttons, and he crouches on the ground and is like “Aha! I’ve found it!”

You can hold up to 3 pieces of evidence. But not all evidence is good evidence. If it’s useless evidence, you can throw it away (at your opponent, for decent damage I might add). If you chose to keep it, you can make use of it when you switch his attack mode to “trial mode.”

In trial mode, the evidence gains special powers– you can use to them to fire energy blasts of various kinds. A cellphone fires a straight beam, a rose boquet fires and arc, etc…

If you have 3 pieces of good evidence, unlock “judgment mode.”

In judgement mode, you submit your three pieces of good evidence for something like 15 seconds of special abilities… including the “OBJECTION!” finger of supreme power (totally owns Shoryukens, because it’s a projectile anti-air that takes up like a third of the screen). His standard “Paperwork” attack, which normally scatters small arc of papers, is now more like a hellstorm of papercuts from Read or Die, and it gains invincibility as an assist.

The best part though is the level 3 judgement mode super. Instant priority and invincibility (trumps all other supers even if you start later, unless the other one also has instant priority and invincibility). If you see Ryu performing a shinkuhadoken, you can counter it with this. What happens is that Phoenix Wright appears at a podium, and begins a heated cross examination… each pieces of evidence strikes OMG (>.<)* reactions from the opponent. All the way through Wright is slamming his hands down on the podium saying things like "Take that!"

It does a whopping amount of damage too, second highest damage for a single move in the entire game. On a standard opponent, it takes off about 2/3 of their life.

So basically, you can play him like a traditional fighter– or you can get your assists to buy time for you while you conduct an investigation, proceed to trial, and then go to judgement!

I haven’t run into any good Pheonix Wright users online yet, but I’m determined to be one of them.

Anyway, now that I’m done my paper, I’ll have a couple of weeks to play to my heart’s content before the next semester starts 🙂