The year 2017 has been a particularly busy one if you’re a fan of fighting games. There have been updates to some of the bigger games in the genre of late such as Street Fighter V and Killer Instinct, as well as brand new releases from just about every major fighting game developer including Injustice 2, Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2, Arms, and Tekken 7. Throwing their hat into the mix this year is Capcom with the anticipated sequel to the always over-the-top Marvel vs. Capcom series titled Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. Containing a cast of greatest hits from both the Marvel and Capcom franchises, the series has always been known for its fast-paced, over-the-top tag team gameplay, with combos that go beyond the double digits into the triple digits, as well as flashy hyper combo moves that oftentimes cover the entire screen.
It’s a series that often throws balance out the window in favour of gameplay that’s as exciting to play as it is to watch. Much like its predecessors, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite continues that same trend while introducing some unique and exciting gameplay elements. The changes to the tag mechanic allow you to bring in your partner at just about any time during a match, and the new Infinity Stone system adds a new layer in customizing your team around its specific power. Despite some glaring shortcomings in its presentation, games modes and roster, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite offers some good reasons why fans of the series will want to take this game for a ride.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite: Xbox One [Reviewed], PS4, Windows PC
Release Date: 19 September 2017
Price: £49.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Purchased by Reviewer]
While the story hasn’t been the strongest point in most fighting games, many of the recent fighting games released have offered ones that were well written and featured a narrative that gave players a reason to care about the universe and the fighters such as Injustice 2 and Tekken 7. While Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite does offer a story mode, it’s rather forgettable after the two to three hours it takes to complete it. Much like a typical Saturday morning cartoon, the story presented here is pretty simple and straightforward. Heroes from both the Capcom and Marvel universes find themselves in a shared world one day, and must learn to work together in order to defeat the newly formed Ultron Sigma (a merged form of Ultron from the Marvel universe and Sigma from the Capcom universe using the Infinity Stones) by gathering the remaining Infinity Stones scattered throughout the new world.
Though there are a few instances where you’re fighting other heroes or villains, the majority of the story mode is spent fighting Ultron drones or generic enemies who happened to be controlled by Ultron Sigma. The story mode presented in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite does a well enough job to serve as a tutorial for new players. It teaches players the basic mechanics of the movement and combo system while providing some sort of narrative backstory to why settings from the Marvel and Capcom universes are merged together, and why the characters in both universes are working alongside or fighting one another.
Rounding out the modes in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite include arcade mode (where you fight against a series of opponents that end with a fight against the boss character of the game), training mode, mission mode (which allows you to learn of and practice 10 movesets and combos for a character with progressing levels of difficulty), local battles, and online where you can take your skills and test them against opponents from around the world in casual, ranked, a beginners league, or through a lobby system. It’s a fairly standard list of modes that you’d see in just about any other recent fighting games, so it’s a bit disappointing that Capcom didn’t bother adding something new like the multiverse game mode in Injustice 2. Also, it is a bit of a missed opportunity that each character doesn’t get their own unique ending after defeating the final boss in arcade mode, as that could have been one way to flesh out the story a bit more by focusing on the one character and telling his/her personal ending.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite has always looked rough around the edges. Even from its initial trailer that showed an ugly model of Chun-Li’s face (which made her look more like Rocket Raccoon and ended up becoming its own meme on the internet), to the other various character models that looked like knockoff plastic dolls than game characters taken straight from the comic books. Ironically, the brand new characters introduced in this game look better than the returning cast, most of which are taken from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. This is most noticeable in characters with human faces. Frank West and Spencer look off-putting and vacant, while Morrigan looks constantly cross-eyed for some inexplicable reason. While the ugly models aren’t as noticeable during gameplay, some of the terribly looking models are just hard to forget before or after the match ends. In contrast, the stages in this game look incredible.
Each stage fits in with the narrative of the story, and blends together areas from both the Marvel and Capcom universes with nice little touches and nods to the source area in the background. Some examples include XGard (a combination of Abel City and Asgard), Valkanda (a combination of Val Habar and Wakanda), and A.I.MBrella (a combination of the nefarious A.I.M and Umbrella corporation). Finally, while the audio in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is presentable, the music in this game isn’t quite as memorable and catchy as the jazzy stage music of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, or the fast beat tracks of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The voice acting for some of the fighters also seems a bit phoned in, especially for certain characters who had much better voice-overs in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 such as Spencer and Dormammu.
Despite all of its problems with presentation, the latest addition shines through its new fighting games mechanics. Namely the new tag system as well as the Infinity Stone mechanics. Unlike the last 2 games which featured 3v3 fights, Infinite goes back to the series roots by reducing the number of fighters in a match to 2v2. It also removes a dedicated assist button from 2 and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Instead, it adds a dedicated tag button, which allows you to tag in your partner just about any time during a match. This includes during a normal attack, special attack, in the middle of a Hyper Combo, while you’re in the air, or even when you use your Infinity Gem.
Being able to tag at just about any time offers up a lot of creative freedom to invent new combos that didn’t exist in previous games, as well as extend and end combos in new and flashy ways. It may also be used to help to keep your first character “safe” (free from being punished by the opponent) if they do a move that would normally be punishable when blocked. Finally, there is also a new mechanic called the “Tag Counter”, which basically allows you to call in your partner while your main character is caught in a combo. It’s a great way to escape a combo that may finish off your point character by calling in your partner for the save. The downside being is that it costs two stocks of meter, meaning you can’t always rely on it whenever your enemy catches you in a combo. Indeed, the new tag system is easily the best part of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, and it’s easy to spend a lot of time thinking of ways to use the strengths of any 2 fighters in tandem in a way that wasn’t possible in previous series entries.
The other new addition to the gameplay in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is the Infinity Stone system. After you’ve selected your fighters and before the match begins, you’ll be able to choose between a total of six Infinity Stones to use during the match. These include Power, Reality, Soul, Time, Space and Mind. Each of the Infinity Stones has their own special powers called “Infinity Surge” which for the players can use during the match. Each Infinity Stone and their respective Infinity Surge power is based on their powers in the Marvel comic and cinematic universe.
For instance, the Reality Stone allows players to send off a damaging red orb that tracks and follows the opponent, while the Time Stone grants the player the ability to teleport a certain distance forward. These Stones give character new options they wouldn’t have otherwise. Bigger but slow-moving characters like Haggar and Nemesis have a way to move quickly across the screen towards their opponents thanks to the Time Stone’s Infinity Surge, while the Space Stone allows you to force incoming opponents to face a certain mix-up that they may not have otherwise. Each Stone has its own unique power that can be granted to the player during a match, and building a team that works best with your favorite Stone is one of the ways Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite allows players to develop their own distinct playstyle, even if they happen to face against someone using the same team.
Alongside the basic Infinity Surge ability of each Stone, there is a meter that builds during the match whenever you take damage. When it fills up to a certain point, it allows you to access that stone’s “Infinity Storm”. Much like the Infinity Surges, these Infinity Storms vary by the stone and can help change the shift of the match. For example, using the Soul Stone’s Infinity Storm allows you to resurrect a fallen teammate, while the Space Stone traps your opponent in a giant blue box that they cannot move out of for the duration of the Infinity Storm. While these Infinity Storms can be compared to the X-Factor mechanic in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (in that they can be used as comeback mechanics in order to change the tide of the match), it isn’t nearly as powerful as X-Factor and is much more balanced by comparison. Comebacks feel much more earned in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite compared to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 even with the Infinity Storm mechanic, and so far, none of them seem much more powerful than the rest.
In traditional fashion, the game roster is pulled from the various franchises of both Marvel and Capcom such as the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Darkstalkers. However, fans of the series will likely notice a lack of longtime favourite fighters from the series, namely those from the X-Men and Fantastic Four series. Characters that were the cornerstone of the series from its origins such as Wolverine, Storm, Magneto, Sentinel, and Dr. Doom are inexplicably missing in this game, and their exclusion is noticeable for anyone who has played the last few Marvel vs. Capcom games.
This may have something to do with Marvel not owning the film rights to these licenses, but their absence is still rather disappointing regardless. While the Capcom side is a bit more diverse, there are still some noticeable characters missing from previous games such as Tron Bonne, Wesker, Akuma, Felicia, Viewtiful Joe, Amaterasu, and Vergil. Anyone looking to play as these characters from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in the new game will walk away disappointed unless they happen to be included in the game as DLC further down the line.
Although Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite adds some welcome new characters to the roster such as Captain Marvel, Gamora, Ultron, Jedah, and X, it isn’t quite enough to make up for the characters that were missing from previous games, or the feeling that Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite missed a golden opportunity in bringing a truly diverse roster that celebrates characters, games, films, and comics from all facets of both universes.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite will be remembered mainly for its unique and innovative mechanics that give players more creative freedom than any other Marvel vs. Capcom game before it. The new tag system allows for the creation of new combos, mix-ups and ways to protect your point character in ways that feel fun and refreshing. The Infinity Stones on the other hand, allow you to take it one step further by having the ability to choose a stone that suits your playstyle and adds another layer towards maximizing combos and team building synergy.
However, the game has some glaring issues that are difficult to overlook for casual and hardcore fans alike, namely the poor presentation in the majority of the character models, a lackluster story mode (and a lack of any truly unique modes to the game), and a character roster that is missing some fundamental characters from the series. None of these completely ruin the fun factor of the gameplay itself, but when compared to other recently released fighting games, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite doesn’t feel quite like a complete fighting game. As it stands currently, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is a functional diamond in the rough, one that has to be the potential to be a fantastic fighting game, but simply falls short in a key few areas.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite
- New tag mechanic is unique, fun, and adds a lot of depth to the gameplay
- Infinity Stones is a new mechanic that allow players to creatively express their playstyles
- Stages look great as a blend of areas from both the Capcom and Marvel universes
- Online works well when facing players with a stable connection
- Poor presentation in most of the character models
- Lackluster story mode and a lack of any truly unique modes
- Character roster that leaves plenty to be desired