Deja Review: Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3

We're of the firm opinion that your time is too precious, too valuable to be spent reading a full review for a game that was already reviewed many, many years ago. What's the point of applying a score to a game that's old enough to be enrolled in the sixth grade? That's why we invented Deja Review: A quick look at the new features and relative agelessness of remade, revived and re-released games.

There are certain prerequisites that simply come with being a Capcom fighting game enthusiast. Alongside the need to recognize and understand various fundamentals (mostly in the form of now standardized button combinations), there's also the acceptance that game X will be regularly updated, and largely at the cost of the player.

Most revisions bring with them various tweaks to the formula, fixes for flaws that were only discovered once the completed game was in the hands of experts on the tournament circuit. Beefier updates add fighters new and old to the fray, while slightly less substantial but nonetheless obligatory cosmetic enhancements fall closer to the realm of shameless nickel and diming.

Most of Capcom's updates have been no-brainers, but in the case of the not-yet-one-year-old Marvel vs. Capcom 3, there is enough cause for trepidation. Could the expanded offerings of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 not be added as DLC? More pressing: Is UMvC3 worth the $40 price of admission? Not surprisingly, it depends entirely upon how much you loved the first edition.

What's new this time around? A decent amount. Obviously, you have the new characters, six for each side of the fence. On Marvel's side, you've got Ghost Rider, Nova, Hawkeye, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, and Rocket Raccoon(?!?!). And on Capcom's side you've got Frank West, Strider, Firebrand, Nemesis, Vergil, and Phoenix Wright. Though their number seems like it would lend itself to cloning, each new brawler adds his or her own twist to the formula.

Among Stan Lee's offspring, I am particularly fond of Strange and Raccoon; the former employs projectile-based attacks, the complexity of which set him apart from other fireball-centric characters, which is quite the feat. The latter's full arsenal of tricky-to-navigate traps and mines, coupled with his extremely low profile, makes him one of the most frantic characters to grace a Vs. title.

But it's the lawyer defending the house that Mega Man built who's the real star of the show. His suite of investigative maneuvers is like nothing you've seen in a fighting game before, Capcom or otherwise. So outlandish is Wright, along with most of the new faces, that the returning characters somewhat pale in comparison -- though at least they've received some tweaks, to boot.

Most of these older characters' updates consist of fixes under the hood and refinements that hardcore players will be thankful for, and which everyone else won't even notice. However, everyone should recognize the sweeping changes introduced to the X-Factor boost from the original MvC3: Its duration is far shorter, but its ability to be activated in the air makes it a far more versatile tool.

And, of course, the game's neon-hued heads-up display looks far nicer this time around. The game's overall presentation is much tighter as well; there's a stronger emphasis on the comic book motif, giving slightly more context to the proceedings. Moreso than the un-Ultimate version of the fighter, it possesses the tactile feel of one of Marvel's summer crossover comics.

It's clear that Capcom finally took the time to dig into the backgrounds of their guest stars, which is evident from all the alternate color schemes. True, most are still palette swaps (for shame!), but much of the Marvel's crew's wardrobe features details that will make longtime fans of certain characters happy; like Iron Man, whose Patriot Armor is explained with an additional bit of dialogue.

Unfortunately, none of the sweeping changes include any new single-player modes, aside from the ability to assume the mantle of Galactus, the game's final boss, for about as long as it takes to get boring. While it may be foolish to expect something along the lines of Mortal Kombat's Challenge Tower, there still is the expectation of something new on all fronts with an upgrade that's touted as being so well rounded.

How's it hold up? The core is just as enjoyable as it was on day one, though it's admittedly pretty troubling that day one was just a little over nine months ago. This isn't a case of whether or not the game has aged well -- it simply hasn't had time to age at all.

The question remains as to whether Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is worth picking up, and that's entirely contingent upon how much time you've spent with the first round. If you're completely new to MVC3, and ideally if you don't own the original, then this is the game for you. Likewise, if you're a grizzled vet that's played the original to death, $40 is not too much to ask for a dozen new characters, many of whom add a considerable amount of newfound energy to the proceedings, along with additional nuances to the existing formula. The truly hardcore will be the ones able to fully appreciate all the finer differences in details.

However, if you own but haven't fully explored the offerings of the original, I could understand possessing a bit of trepidation about putting down additional funds. In the context of the fighting game genre, MvC3 is still very new, and many of the changes in Ultimate may be completely immaterial to casual players.

Still, those enhancements create a better, more total package, and certain new faces are too enticing to ignore. Both the diehard and non-diehard crowds should approach with caution: Once you have a taste of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, there really is no going back.