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Courtesy of Capcom

“Marvel vs. Capcom 3” has finally arrived after over a decade since its predecessor, but in the company of modern fighting games, it falls a bit short. Although it is significantly lacking in features, MvC3’s core gameplay is honed to near perfection.

Capcom’s “Vs. series” is about taking Capcom’s characters and pitting them against another company’s in a crossover game. For the “MvC” series, this translates to a 3 vs. 3 tag team match where you can choose between your favorite characters from both Marvel Comics and Capcom. Like its predecessor, “MvC3” is insanely deep and complex, making it very hard to master. Knowing when to switch teammates, choosing the right assist moves and discovering, executing and perfecting combos will take months upon months of training. Along with retaining the depth that makes “MvC” such a great fighting game, Capcom worked to make the gameplay a tad more accessible.

Players familiar with last year’s “Tatsunoku vs. Capcom” will largely feel at home when playing this new game. “MvC3” borrows “TvC’s” control scheme wherein there are only three main buttons used for weak, medium and heavy attacks. Special moves for a character can be used on all three buttons, but their properties change depending on which one you press.

Most important of all in terms of accessibility is the new launcher button. Part of what made “MvC2” absurdly difficult was having to memorize the moves for each character that would launch foes into the air. The universal launcher button now makes it all the more easier to set up the aerial combos crucial to one’s success. Two other additions make the game approachable: the dedicated buttons for the two-character assists and the larger room for the input of commands.

All of this accessibility is great because there are plenty of new elements to consider when going into battle. Among the many changes is the introduction of the aptly named X-Factor. Triggering the X-Factor in battle is simple — just hit all the buttons — but knowing when to do so is another story. One must really consider when to use this, as every character receives a different buff from the X-Factor. Also, the strength of the X-Factor increases depending on how many of your teammates are defeated. Its effects can be outright devastating if you use it at the right time.

Although the total number of characters in the roster dropped from 56 to 36, the new roster has far more meaningful and useful characters. Familiar faces such as Ryu and Spider-Man are joined by newcomers such as Amaterasu, Dante and Deadpool. Palette swaps and clones are largely absent in “MvC3,” which means that players will get more mileage out of the roster. This is most apparent when forming just your core team of three. It is nice to have more viable options to choose from and, better yet, most characters have largely unique move sets.

However, all is not well in “MvC3” because while the core gameplay is fantastic, there isn’t much else to offer. In fact, for a modern fighting game, it is totally unacceptable. Basic options for arcade, local matches with friends and basic ranked matches for online are all that is offered. There is additionally a training mode that is fairly implemented, but it is not great by any means. The final mode is a challenge mode where you have to input commands correctly to win.

Normally that kind of mode is great, but here it only tells you move names, not inputs, and players subsequently cannot watch a video of the proper combo in action, which completely defeats the purpose.

The most notable omission is the most basic of them all — a simple fight against the computer is not possible in “MvC3.” Only by setting it up in the Training Mode by shifting through multiple menus is it possible to simulate a match against the computer. This isn’t a feasible substitute because it doesn’t bump you right back to the character select screen when concluded, nor does it affect your overall profile.

I wish I could say that at least the online play is solid, but its launch week has seen its fair share of problems — not the least of which has been the almost total shutdown of the server for basic quick matches for more than 11 hours last week. Capcom has stated that they are working on it, but it is frustrating, to say the least.

What is strange about the small list of options in “MvC3” is that Capcom’s “Super Street Fighter IV” was filled with features. It presents little excuse as to why the game has so little to do.

“MvC3” shipped with too little content. Hopefully future downloadable content could add modes to fill in the holes or otherwise it will be a great fighting game that won’t see much playtime as there are other equally excellent, but fully featured, games on the market.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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