Release Date: 9/19/17
ESRB/PEGI: T/PEGI 12
MSRP: $59.99 USD/$74.99 CA
By Rick Warren / Gfn2112
When Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite was revealed last year, I was thrilled. I had enjoyed Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for years, and I was ready to see what a new Marvel vs. Capcom game would look like. The trailer seemed to be giving me everything I wanted, with Captain Marvel leading the brand new roster. I couldn't wait to play the game. Soon, though, disappointing news trickled out. Trailers, press releases and roster announcements failed to impress me. Ultimately, the same can be said for the entire game that I just spent my weekend playing. If you would have told me Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite would be what an MvC game would look like in 2017, I would have been disappointed. Read below to find out why.
A Bland Roster = A Bland Fighter
The main reason this game failed to deliver is exactly what worried me when all the news and trailers released: the cast of characters. There's almost nobody new to play as here, and exactly 80% of this launch roster was present in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. With only 6 new characters, Infinite can't help but feel lazy and uninspired. This is painfully obvious on the Marvel side, when characters like Dormammu return for no real reason. Let me list some characters who could (and should) be in that slot instead: Ant-Man, The Wasp, Star-Lord, Punisher, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Scarlet Witch or The Vision. I can't comprehend why Dormammu, who plays similarly enough to Doctor Strange, would return instead of the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy or Ant-Man. The only explanation I have is that Capcom was taking the easy route and choosing to bring back as many characters as possible to save money and effort. Any one of those options would have been more exciting to play as and see, and the Capcom side shares the same issue with its recycled characters. Marvel vs. Capcom's roster issue is much deeper than not incorporating any of the X-Men or Fantastic Four. If this was an attempt to make the MCU playable (which I'd assume it was, with Iron Man's voice actor doing an impression of Robert Downey Jr. and delivering lines from the movies), it fails to do that by leaving out so many of the big players.
What makes the roster more bothersome is the fact that those few new characters that were added are actually great. Thanos and Ultron are as powerful as you'd expect. Capcom's Jedah and Strider both have some awesome and unique moves. Oddly enough, Gamora became my favorite fighter in the entire game. I never expected it, but her fast moveset filled with sword attacks and quick pistol shots made for a great character. The experience I had here makes me crave more, and I really wish that was a possibility. See, if players want something new with Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, they should expect to spend another $30 on the season pass.
Sigma. Monster Hunter. Winter Soldier. Black Panther. Black Widow. Venom. These are the characters that make up the aforementioned season pass, and none of them were in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. This is one of the most frustrating post-launch content plans I've ever seen. In a game lacking new characters on its roster, the season pass appears to fill that void... by charging players even more. Why were these characters not in the game at launch? Black Panther, Sigma and Monster Hunter are part of the game's story mode and some have already had their individual trailers released. It's blatantly obvious that they were ready but held back for the season pass. Nearly all of the new fighters that I expected to see are all hidden behind that paywall. Instead of fun-but-unnecessary returning characters like Dormammu or Nova being saved for the season pass, Capcom made a conscious decision to save the new characters for it instead. It's a shady business move that illustrates exactly why gamers have become wary about DLC, and immediately speak out against it when it is announced. In the case of this game, it actually does seem to be cut content. Despite all of this, though, I don't think even a six character season pass will fix this game's roster issue. It may improve it, sure, but so many characters are missing on both sides. At this point, I think it's clear that Marvel needs their own fighting game and Capcom Fighting Evolution should return. An evenly split, 30 character roster doesn't do either side justice anymore.
Missing The MvC Charm
Another thing I have to discuss is how the game looks. Now, to clarify, I've never been a "graphics > everything else" guy. I think they're pretty far down the list on what makes a game work for me. That said.... wow, the character models in this game are painful to look at. The choice to switch from the fitting and awesome comic-inspired art style of 3, to this odd semi-realistic look in Infinite, is something that I really don't approve of. Characters like X and Ultron look great, but human characters like Chris Redfield and Captain America look ugly compared to how they did in the older games. Losing the stylish art direction the series prided itself on made a big part of the cast look so much worse. If this were a large open world game and these were NPCs, I'd understand making sacrifices. This is the cast of a fighting game though, which players will be seeing over and over again as they play. There's no excuse for these characters not to be more detailed, and this is one of the rare cases where graphics did negatively impact my opinion on a video game.
Another step back is taken with the game's arcade mode. Gone are the clever and fun endings for every fighter. Instead, I saw a generic "congratulations" screen whenever I finished, regardless of who I was playing as. This change really kills the replayability of the mode. I had no real reason to play it with every character, because there was no reward to be gained aside from a color pattern I'd rarely use. Those goofy endings helped give the MvC games a personality that just doesn't show up here like I wanted it to.
Lastly, an issue that stands out even more because of the fighting games of today: a lack of customization. Unlike the gear and plentiful shaders of Injustice 2, or the deep customization of Tekken 7, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite offers very little when it comes to appearance changes. For nearly every hero, you'll only find 4 color swaps of the default model. Only about 6 characters have unique skins, all of which are tied to DLC/pre-order bonuses. For a game like this, it's a bit insulting. Symbiote Spider-Man was in the story mode, but not unlockable. None of Iron Man's different armor sets are available. There's no DmC Dante skin and no MCU Gamora skin. I could go on and on through pretty much the entire roster, because Marvel vs. Capcom fails to offer much at all on this front. When a game has a roster filled with repeat characters, I'd expect the customization to at least be deeper. This is yet another area where the game feels cheaply made and poorly thought out.
The Strengths Behind The Flaws
Marvel vs. Capcom is a mediocre game because of everything that you've read so far. If more care had gone into the roster choices, character designs and the arcade mode, though, it could have been great. There are shreds of brilliance in this game, and they're pretty much all on the gameplay side. For starters, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite offers some tremendous movesets, and are some of the deepest I've seen in a fighting game (Dante specifically has a wildly intricate set of abilities that can be extended multiple times during use). While button mashing and casual play is definitely still possible, these combos are geared towards fighting game experts and offer a deeper level of play than the MvC games that came before.
Another big strength on the gameplay side is the use of the Infinity Stones. While I was initially concerned about the switch to 2v2 fights (with the stone filling the third slot of a team), I was pleasantly surprised with how well the system worked. Each stone completely changes a fight, allowing for an entire level of strategy that I've yet to see in a fighting game. Should I take a chance on the Soul stone and bring back one of my fighters when they're taken down, or use the Power stone to get stronger and prevent that down from happening? I was faced with an interesting choice when entering each fight, and often had to change my stone to match my team or the team I was fighting. It's an excellent system, and the one truly great part of this game aside from the movesets.
A few more minor positives are the stages and soundtrack. The stages are mainly combinations of a Capcom location and a Marvel location, and many of them are great backdrops for the action. Seeing "A.I.M.brella" admittedly made me grin, as did the symbiote B.O.W.s and Modok in the background. The most visually stunning stage is Valkanda, a combination of Monster Hunter's Val Habar and Black Panther's country of Wakanda. As for the soundtrack, this is the one area that did feel like classic Marvel vs. Capcom. Characters had their own tracks that would play during fights, and it definitely kept things interesting. Dante and Iron Man's themes were especially recognizable. The soundtrack and stages both held up when playing online, as everything meshed well and ran smoothly. Ranked play and casual matches both functioned properly too, as I found fair fights quickly.
As for the new story mode... it gets the job done. I wasn't blown away by any means, but the cheesy interactions and a few neat moments kept me engaged until the end of the four-hour journey. Ultron Sigma was an acceptable villain, Dante gets a moment to shine and Thanos's role is really well thought out. The biggest downside to the mode is actually the load times. There was about a 20 second wait in between every cutscene, which definitely added up over time. This was, again, unacceptable for a 2017 game (especially one as visually outdated as this). Thankfully though, this loading issue was only present in the story mode.
Even as a huge Marvel fan who was legitimately excited for this game, I honestly cannot recommend it in the state that it's in. If you're desperate to scratch your MvC itch, just go play Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. It's a much better game with a charming atmosphere and a superior roster. I truly hope that there's an Ultimate version of Infinite in a few years. With a deeper roster and more customization options, this could be a game worth playing. Until then, hold off; there are far better games out there than this average and unsurprising crossover.
FINAL SCORE: 6