Two things I have a passion for are MARVEL and Capcom, both have been a part of my life growing up from boy to man via comic books, animation, films and video games. The MARVEL Vs Capcom fighting game series has always brought all those passions together wonderfully and after recently enjoying Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 as a remastered game, there was really no better way to build hype for the latest in the series MARVEL Vs Capcom Infinite. Sadly however, there are infinitely more problems with this new instalment that just spoiled it all for me.
I am just going to start off by saying that I really did have high hopes for this game but trailers leading into the release did concern me with how the game looked in terms of art style and from what I had seen in the story mode side to it. I like a good story mode in a fighting game and always find it a good way to get to know the roster and experience the universe of that game to help become more immersed in it. Mortal Kombat X and Injustice 2 managed superb story modes while the very late addition of one to Street Fighter V was a waste of time and Tekken 7’s story mode was fun to watch but terrible to actually play. I did not expected to play another horrible story mode for a while but then MARVEL Vs Capcom Infinite went and trumped both of them with a disappointing and lazy story mode that only highlighted the shortcomings of this game.
Before we get to the story mode let me cut right to the chase. The two biggest issues I have with this game come in the art style and the character roster. Visually this game looks like a hybrid mess of previous MvC (MARVEL Vs Capcom) titles have had previously and a mobile game. It is not quite the CGI level of Injustice 2 or Tekken 7 but it has completely lost the charm of the animated comic book style of previous games and it is off putting, especially in the story mode where Captain America looks like a cos playing Brock Lesnar and Spider-Man has become so body builder that there is really no way he could go back to being Peter Parker without Aunt May asking if he is on steroids. I just really dislike how most of the characters look in this game, a distraction that instantly put me in the “oh what have you done and WHY??” mood.
Next we have the roster itself, which at 30 characters is and should be impressive in any fighting game. But then you notice something rather strange, that there are no XMEN universe characters at all. No Wolverine or Cyclops and no Doctor Doom or Magneto. This all comes down of course to licensing issues but a MvC game without the XMEN line-up just looks and feels wrong and for me as a fan of the series, it suffers as a result even before you jump into the action. Once you have come to terms with that disappointment then you then also notice that out of this 30 character line up, only four of the characters are female. Then out of all the available Capcom and MARVEL universes that they could use, only Chun Li, Captain Marvel, Morrigan and Gamora. The lack of real diversity is bewildering to me after you have to already accept the removal of the XMEN cast of characters is astounding. Four female characters is just nuts when you consider how Black Widow is planned for DLC but would have been perfect for this roster in the story mode considering it has Hawkeye who only pops up in a couple of cut-scenes. It is so infuriating to see that whilst being confined by the licensing issues with the XMEN to then see just how unimaginative the remaining roster is when you think about the iconic female characters both MARVEL and Capcom could easily have used.
Which brings me to the story mode, a campaign mode that is dull and uninspired to the point where getting through it all is a true challenge of patience and perseverance. Ultron from MARVEL Universe and Sigma from Capcom Universe have chosen to work together and use the six Infinity Stones to reshape all of reality so only Robot life exists and using the two stones of Reality and Space, they are able to merge their two universes together leading to the Convergence event. Heroes from both Universes must now work together to track down the four remaining Infinity Stones of Soul, Mind, Time and Power to stop the new big bad in UltraSigma and try to restore both universes. This mode is a blend of cut-scenes to tell the story mixed with fights to progress through. Thanks to the visual style already being horrible for me, the wooden and lacklustre voice acting simply becomes the icing on the cake as characters are thrown together almost randomly at times in order to mix up the fights throughout the campaign. Story wise it is also a mess with the convergence event never really explored with the story kicking off almost three months afterwards with occasional flashback with some characters to fill in a little back story but it became a tedious mode to experience and though it does give a good taste of the new gameplay style, it was really underwhelming to play through.
Now it does sound like I hate this game right now, and at this point I am more frustrated and annoyed by its shortcomings and bad decisions then enjoyment of it as a game. Which is really annoying because once you get into the very core of this game, the gameplay, it really is a fighting game worthy of your attention both as a fan of the series or newcomers and the new fighting system actually works really well once you begin to master its depth. The Arcade mode is a fun way to experiment with different team ups and the Missions mode really is a superb tutorial as it uses a “do this” style of teaching techniques, moves and combos to the player. I appreciate the efforts made to bring in the newcomer or just casual fighting player by using certain Auto modes to help being a player into the action such as the Auto combo which allows repeatedly pressing light punch to trigger a basic combo which is visually impressive on screen.
I like the stripped down 2 Vs 2 tag team style of fighting with the new character switch mechanic really shining through for me. Players can now switch out their characters at any point of the fighting to either conserve their health or to link them into a fighting combo for extra damage. Timing the switch takes some practice and learning the best switch link combos can take time as players experiment with different characters to see which compliment each other the best but when you do start putting powerful link combo strings together, it can be devastating but a real treat on screen with some seriously impressive animations for the powers on display from characters. The work that has gone into some of the characters as well for their move sets is also fun with stand outs being Ghost Rider and Frank West who has some insane combo moves.
The Six infinity stones now play a part with their powers now available in a fight to aid the player. Like the super combo meter which builds during the match, the infinity stone will also have a power meter which after reaching half way can be activated to use its full power such as the Soul Stone being able to revive a downed character or the Time stone which will quickly charge the supermove meter or the Space stone which will trap your opponent character in a force shield cage preventing them from escaping or switching out. Learning which stone suits your play style with the combination of characters you pick alongside learning how to pull off the hard hitting combos whilst studying other characters in order to defend against them makes this truly one of the deepest fighting games of recent years. It can feel button mashy but only to the point where you start to figure out the combos and timing then it becomes far more masterful.
Online action is fluid as well with no server issues at time of writing and I really appreciate fighting games that go out of their way to be inclusive of new comers by offering which MvC Infinite does, in the way of a Beginners League alongside casual and ranked matches so those just getting a feel for the online can go into this beginners league and practice whilst experiencing the online. The learning curve is quite high though once you move to the conventional modes but the training area is a crucial way of taking a team into it to try out moves and combos and see how well they work together with your own play-style. Taking this game online is huge fun and the first time I had the MvC feeling again with Infinite.
So what do I really think of MARVEL Vs Capcom Infinite, well to put it simply, it is a mess of a game. The strength of the gameplay is not enough to really put this alongside the likes of Tekken 7 or Injustice 2 though it is a good reason to want to play this game. The downsides however do hold this back from being a complete experience for me as a fan of the series and a fan of fighting games. I do not like the visual styling, the story mode is a wasted opportunity and the lack of diversity in the roster after it has already suffered a massive loss in terms of not having the XMEN Universe included just give this a half done feel which only makes the full on price of £45 and above for this both physical and digital for me instantly makes this a title for the bargain bucket of sales and like Street Fighter V, the gameplay alone is strong but not strong enough to make this a must have fighting game.