If you’re a fan of the 2D fighting genre, it’s a safe assumption that you’ve heard of the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise. For those uninitiated, Marvel vs Capcom pits fan favorite superheroes against legendary gaming characters in classic fighting fashion. Iron Man, Chun-Li, Spider-Man, Ryu, and many more fighters can be chosen to team up in this 2 versus 2 crossover extravaganza. The latest entry in the series, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, makes some big changes to what fans have come to expect. With a roster overhaul, fighting mechanic changes, and a new visual style, fans are worried that the changes will be detrimental. Let’s see just how justified those worries are.
Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite developer Capcom took a lot of heat when they released Street Fighter V earlier this year. Fans were mainly upset at the lack of sufficient single player content, citing the lack of a story mode. Capcom looks to make up for those missteps by focusing on a single player story mode in Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite. It’s a narrative that is meant to be taken with a grain of salt; no one is trying to be serious here. When you take two huge pop culture brands and infuse them into one, it’s going to be silly no matter what. Capcom wears this on their sleeve, but fails to meet the mark.
Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite‘s story revolves around the converging of the two main properties, Marvel and Capcom. When Capcom villain Sigma (originally from the Mega Man universe) and Marvel robot mastermind Ultron (of Avengers: Age of Ultron) combine the two worlds, chaos ensues. The narrative makes for some interesting stage designs, with each stage being a crossover of two noteworthy properties. For example, Black Panter’s homeland is crossed with Monster Hunter, and there’s an attention to detail that’s noticeable to fans. However, it doesn’t provide a coherent narrative path to follow, often making the “story” part of Story mode hard to keep up with.
While the Story mode has some cool character moments and exciting fights, it struggles to meet the standards that Mortal Kombat set when it was rebooted on Xbox 360 and PS3. The inclusion of the infinity stones ensures that Marvel cinematic universe fans will have something to latch onto, but it’s more of a “turn off your brain and enjoy” experience than anything else. You’ll get to play as most of the characters, and have a good time fighting your way through it. It’s entertaining, but a riveting crossover narrative this is not.
One of the most notable changes to the MvC formula is the roster. This time around, there’s been a decent amount of variety cut from the roster. Fan favorites like Wolverine and Deadpool are nowhere to be found, removed along with the rest of the X-Men. Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite instead draws its Marvel side of the roster purely from the Marvel cinematic universe. If you’ve seen them in a Marvel movie, you can probably play as them. While this is a good choice to bring in newer fans, it comes at a big price. The lack of classic characters like Cyclops, Doctor Doom, and the aforementioned Wolverine make the roster feel a bit hollow. The Capcom side of the roster is better done, containing characters from a wide array of genres and franchises.
Each Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite fight is a two-on-two affair, meaning you’ll get to select a pair of your favorite characters to battle with. The graphical style has had an overhaul, and unfortunately, character models suffer the most. Environments, particle effects, and the general look of the game is great. I really enjoy the excessive use of color and overwhelming amount of action on screen, but it’s hard to divert your attention from the creepy faces of human characters.
The actual models of the characters range from well done to rough, with cartoon characters like Firebrand and Arthur looking fine. However, human characters like Chris Redfield and Chun-Li look like plastic dolls modeled in 2006 era Xbox 360. They don’t look horrible; they look weird. Eyes look hollow and lifeless, characters look like they’ve aged or gotten beat with the ugly stick, or worse. It’s disappointing, but it doesn’t completely ruin the fun.
A Beautiful Dance
That being said, the moment-to-moment fighting mechanics of Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite are outstanding. There’s been a few changes made, notably the lack of a third team member, and the introduction of the infinity stones as a gameplay mechanic. In addition, team members no longer have “support” moves, but instead can be swapped out at a moment’s notice.
The game is welcoming to players of all skill levels, thanks to a good tutorial system in Mission mode, and a helpful auto-combo system. Experienced players will enjoy the creativity the new mechanics allow, likely stringing together combo counts higher than 100. New players won’t have to worry too much, as repeatedly pressing the “light punch” button now executes a bread-and-butter combo without fail. This makes you feel powerful, despite your overall skill level, and evens the odds when taking on better players.
The infinity stones also play a big part in battles, as each one provides a unique powerful ability and ultimate attack. After choosing your fighters, you’ll be able to choose one of six stones. Each stone can be used during battles for a quick attack, allowing you to quickly throw homing projectiles, pull your enemy closer to you, or even siphon health. If your infinity stone meter fills to halfway or above (denoted in the bottom corners of the screen), you can activate an “Infinity Storm”. This turns the entire screen the color of your stone, and inflicts specific status effects on your enemy for the duration of your meter. The infinity stone powers can feel a bit cheap at first, but you’ll quickly learn the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Where’s the Modes?
I’m glad that Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is a solid fighting game, but I can’t shake the disappointment I felt over the lack of mode variety. In comparison to something like Street Fighter V, there’s plenty of content to play with. However, when compared to something like Injustice 2, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite’s lack of content really starts to show. The story will take you anywhere from 2-4 hours to complete, depending on whether or not you watch cutscenes and how difficult you find the game to be. Once you’re done with that, you can move onto Missions, which are the most disappointing aspect for me personally. Other games use mission modes to pepper in gameplay variety, character specific stories, and stuff that just doesn’t fit in the main story. Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite uses missions as a glorified combo tutorial. Each character has a set of missions, and each one will task you with performing a specific combo. It’s a good way to learn a character’s moves, but other than that, I found the entire mode boring.
Additionally, there’s the standard Arcade mode, which gives you 7 fights to complete and always ends with the final boss from the Story mode. You can battle locally against a friend, fight the CPU, or engage in some online combat. I played quite a few matches locally and had a great time, and was equally impressed with the stability of the online network. However, matchmaking takes a significant amount of time (I failed to find a ranked match three times in a row before giving up and trying again later). It’s a trade off that I’m willing to make, as I’d rather have a steady connection than quick matching. However, some player options suffer from the matchmaking issues. For example, there’s a designated “beginner’s area” for low level online players, but after searching four or five times, I found no matches. Instead, I shuffled over to casual play and had some fun there.
The Bottom Line on Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite
Generally speaking, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is a fun time. The mechanics of battle are engaging and exciting, the visuals are colorful and vibrant (with the exception being ugly character faces), and it’s simply a fun game to play. The story might be convoluted, and the voice acting can be pretty mediocre at times, but there’s still an enjoyable story mode to play. The biggest issue I take with Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is its lack of fan favorite characters, rough character models, and general lack of content.
If you’re a casual fighting game player who wants to just beat up some enemies and have a good time, there’s fun to be had. However, casual players will have a much better time with Injustice 2‘s amount of content and general gameplay loop. Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite may look decent, but it’s firmly aimed at competitive players who are looking to perfect their combos. In this way, Marvel vs Capcom doesn’t feel like a full priced title (although it will definitely cost you full price), instead feeling like a mid-tier experience that will grow as content releases. I’m satisfied with Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite at a core gameplay level, but ultimately disappointed with its lack of content for players who aren’t interested in endless hours of competitive online play. When compared to other fighting games available (even ones released 5+ years ago), there’s simply not enough content to warrant a full purchase. If you can, I recommend renting it and having a fun night of fighting. For those who can’t, maybe wait for a price drop. If you’re someone who plans on playing online and has dreams of “making it pro”, you’ll probably be satisfied with the complexity and creativity contained in the combo system.