It’s hard to believe that Capcom’s super powered fighting game series is now two decades old when it now feels perhaps more relevant than ever, even though the last entry in the series was released in 2011. Since Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3, the Marvel cinematic universe has come to dominate pop culture and Street Fighter 5 has cemented itself as the fighting game community’s premiere choice. A return to this crossover is a no-brainer, but how do you bring newcomers to fighting games without alienating the long term hardcore players?
The Marvel Vs Capcom series is famous for its epic battles with attacks that burst through the screen, but the technical skill required to pull off the dizzying range of moves has put off fighting game newcomers. For MVC Infinite, the team have embraced a back-to-basics approach to help newcomers ease in. Accessibility is the main focus here with a control method designed around console controllers rather than arcade sticks.
There are 4 attack buttons, 2 for kicks and 2 for punches, and buttons for tag and infinity gem ability. Every character can pull off an impressive combo just by mashing the light punch button. Once players are more confident, they can use another chain of light punch-light kick-hard kick then tap down and hard punch to launch their opponent into the air for a follow up aerial combo. And pressing both hard attacks will use a level 1 super move.
The biggest shake up to MVC’s fighting system is a return to 2v2 tag-team battles in an effort to simplify battle flow and encourage co-operation between characters. The infinity gems bring a new range of abilities for players to mix into their usual fighting style. For example, the time gems give players the ability to phase through projectiles and keep the pressure on opponents playing the distance, while the space gem pulls your opponent closer towards you to set up combos, and its ultimate ability restricts your opponent’s movement to turn them into your own punchbag.
This is the first of the series to have been developed and released post-MCU, so Infinite’s aesthetic has moved away from the hyper-colorful comic style of the previous games to a more cinematic and detailed look. Though not as dark and gritty as the DC Injustice series. It’s a style that compliments the Capcom characters as well; Ryu and Chun-Li’s iconic outfits look as striking as they always did with some subtle detail in the fabric.
On the build we played, the Marvel roster leaned heavily towards the Avengers with the X-men conspicuous by their absence. Ultron, Captain Marvel and Hawkeye all make their debut in this title, looking exactly how you’d expect them to from their recent comic appearances. The returning characters like Iron Man and Captain America have been slightly redesigned in accordance to their movie counterparts. The only new characters in Capcom’s lineup are X and Sigma from the Mega Man X series. The rest of the lineup revealed so far are Capcom’s old faithfuls like Morrigan Aensland from Darkstalkers, Ryu and Chun-Li from Street Fighter and Strider from… Strider.
After the initially disappointing release of Street Fighter 5, Capcom have learnt their lesson and will be making sure MVC Infinite will be launching with a range of features, including the now obligatory story mode which details how both the Marvel and Capcom universe come crashing together when Ultron and Sigma team up to destroy all organic life. An extensive training mode is promised along with missions for each character.
Capcom are staying tight lipped about future release plans but with this entry being titled ‘Infinite’ and after the success of Street Fighter 5’s season model, it’s safe to say there’ll be plenty of new characters released to keep this game relevant and fresh.
After having a few games both against the AI and another human player, MVC Infinite feels a more grounded and technical than previous game’s hyperactive pyrotechnics. The introduction of infinity gems can really enhance how some characters play and offers a range of options during fights. But even with this new ability, it feels like a natural fit for the series and keeps you on your toes as you try to work out how to fight with and against them.
All signs are good that this will be a mighty return for the most esoteric fighting games. The real test will be how it performs at tournaments, especially when the hardcore still swear by MVC 2. But with Marvel’s popularity at an all time high and the resurgence of fighting games, this could bring in a whole new generation of players, along with content to keep MVC Infinite running for many years to come.
Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite is released this September.