It all started with X-Men vs. Street Fighter, two universes collided and no one’s quarters were safe. When the games expanded further, fans of both sides were playing out fantasy matchups such as Deadpool vs. Ken, Akuma vs. Magneto, Captain America vs. Ryu. With Marvel once again licensing its characters to video game developers, Capcom has decided to bring a new iteration of fantasy fighting game in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.
MARVEL VS. CAPCOM: INFINITE
Published by: Capcom
Available For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
(Note: Review key provided by publisher.)
From the time it was announced at PlayStation Experience last year, Capcom and the reinvigorated Marvel games division set out to incorporate the comic book publisher’s storytelling touch into this new generation of interdimensional battle. Capcom even went so far as to bring in seasoned comic book scribe Frank Tieri to contribute on parts of the game’s overarching narrative. Much like newer fighting games such as Street Fighter V and Injustice, MvC puts emphasis on a lengthy story mode that not only introduces you to every character in the game but forces you to become at least mediocrely skilled with them all in order to progress.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite‘s story is the creation of a new world from the devastation of two different ones. When the flesh hating android Ultron uses the space and reality Infinity Stones to meld with Mega Man’s human despising nemesis Sigma, the newly formed Ultron Sigma creates a new reality meshing various relics of the Capcom games universe with iconic Marvel settings. Some of the more standout examples: the GOTG cosmic setting Knowhere and Strider video game’s foremost location of the Moon combine to create KnowMoon. Monster Hunter’s Val Habar forms a new kingdom with Wakanda where you first meet Hulk and Ryu, Valkanda. This new amalgamation isn’t limited to locations, characters such as Thor, Ghosts and Ghouls’Arthur, Rocket, and Mega Man X all speak to one another as if there’s a lengthy history between all of them. It’s an interesting concept which opens up Marvel to publish comics that could rewrite character history outside of continuity in unique stories.
These characters are on a mission to end this mutated world and return the realities of both universes to their rightful places. Early parts of the game explain very little about how exactly this new world came to be, merely serving to introduce every character and give them all a shot at witty action hero dialogue moments. It’s not until the introduction of the mad titan Thanos that things get interesting and intricate. Without spoiling the story too much, Thanos will do treacherous Thanos things but in a way that builds an even more expansive universe. Between the movies and recent solo comic book series, it’s easy to have grown tired of Thanos but Infinite lets him play to his classic villainous traits. Something he’s sorely missed since the original Infinity Gauntlet saga. Sprinkled throughout the narrative are big moments you could only see in a video game. Ryu and Hulk uppercut a giant rock monster into next week then in another instance Iron Man decides he’s had enough of the tech support and flys into battle against a venomized creature destroying New Metro City. While moments like these aren’t the most crucial, they are fun to just sit back and watch.
As improved as story mode is in MvC: Infinite, the most polished aspect of the game is how it plays. Two-on-two team combat is frantic but rarely, if ever, feels out of your control. You’ll select your tag team from two of (at launch) thirty playable characters of Marvel or Capcom lore. Simple one button hitting combinations have been implemented to give casual players a sense of the action that really sells the game. For the expert fighters, Infinite brings back all the insane 20+hit combos for every character, if you can memorize the right button sequences and timing. Watching them is a thing of beauty, being on the receiving end of one fighting online…not so much. Best of all every character has multiple stylish super moves to execute including one where Ghost Rider runs you down with his bike or another where newcomer Captain Marvel shows off her full powerset on an opponent.
Intricate to the story and new to the versus series is the use of the Infinity Stones, or as they’re called here the Infinity Six. Power, reality, space, time, soul, mind; each has a unique mechanic that can turn the tide of a fight in your favor. If a player is running low on health, using the soul stone can steal some from their opponent or when the infinity meter is full unleash the true power of the stone to revive your fallen partner. It’s even a useful tool once unlocked in story mode, especially during the final boss battle against Ultron Sigma. It probably speaks to the game’s standard level of difficulty, even on normal there were story battles that felt a bit unbalanced making me dread what hard mode must be like. While losing gives you the option to continue on a lower difficulty, it’s odd, borderline archaic, that there’s setting in the options for those simply looking to experience the story. It could have a lot to do with one particular early part of the story mode where it seems as though you’re meant to lose to Ultron Sigma to up the level of threat this menace presents.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is an ambitious game, but doesn’t fulfill that potential in some key areas. Specifically in the roster choices. As the 30 characters in the game are “fan favorite” choices such as Ryu, Captain America, Dante, Chris Redfield, Frank West, Thor, and Iron Man they don’t bring much freshness for longtime fans of the series. The incorporation of Carol Danvers Captain Marvel and Gamora are nice but we would have liked to have seen more variety of the 7,000+ characters Marvel has. Even the Capcom side of things consists of some very overused or odd choice characters. Ryu is essentially the Capcom mascot, but Resident Evil’s monster Nemesis has already been in the series along with multiple time shown Morrigan from Darkstalkers. I would have liked to have seen some of the characters we’ve never seen: Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil, maybe some from Onimusha, hell you’re already partnering with a Disney company and have produced Disney games before, why not bring in Darkwing Duck? The Capcom side of the roster is diverse among their list of franchises but characters such as Jedah and Chun-Li don’t feel vital to the game’s story. On the Marvel side of the roster, character choices might be fitting of the story but they aren’t irreplaceable. Ghost Rider is the only character in the game to have never appeared in an MCU film and even his inclusion doesn’t feel particularly irreplaceable.
When you previously released a versus game with 56 playable characters, 30 feels limited by comparison. In addition to the already announced Black Panther and Sigma, more characters will be available for Infinite in future downloadable content. In fact, Capcom today announced the first wave of DLC as Winter Soldier, Venom, Black Widow, and Monster Hunter. Bucky Barnes and Natasha Romanov will be making their series debut and it’s definitely a step in the right direction. However, expanding your roster will likely cost you an additional fee. Unlike Street Fighter V, there is currently no in-game currency or points system that lets you unlock new characters without buying them either individually or through a season pass option. It should be noted that Capcom have stated in a previous news post, the publisher views Infinite as a platform versus traditional rollout game. That admittedly means content will be on the way but most, if not all of it, will have an added cost to players beyond the $59.99 MSRP.
Perhaps the most noticeable fault for those that crave story is the lack of post-game content. The main story of the game is cartoony at times but memorable. As you play in the other single player type arcade mode, none of the characters have their own individual endings for beating it. Such an oversight leaves the overall world a bit baren and if you’re like me, someone who doesn’t want to play against strangers online, there’s hardly any replay value.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is EXTREMELY fun, fierce, and engaging at the limited things it has. It’s also a game that reaches its limits quickly. Once you beat the story mode there’s nothing for you to do except jump into online battles. For a game that’s called Infinite, you can’t help but notice how finite it is.