25th Oct2017

‘Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite’ Review (PS4)

by Matthew Smail

mvsc-inf-ps4

Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is the latest in the popular series of crossover beat-em-ups that (unsurprisingly) feature characters from Capcom’s massive catalogue of games and the Marvel universe. Past iterations have featured highly detailed and beautifully animated art, drawn in a two dimensional comic book style to suit the combined cast. The last entry, Marvel vs Capcom 3 was particularly striking, with thick and distinctive black outlines highlighting characters amidst the frantic action.

For Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, the game shifts to three-dimensional characters fighting on a two dimensional plane, so a more realistic art style is used. This look is reminiscent of Injustice in style, although it trades the dark and moody feel of that series for a largely bright and more cheerful aesthetic. I doubt this approach will appeal to everyone, with both fans of the series and of the Marvel comics likely to feel most aggrieved. Personally, I didn’t mind it, but it makes the game feel distinctly less like the Marvel vs Capcom titles that I’ve played in the past and more like any other modern beat-em-up.

The game features story and battle modes, as well as several periphery add-ons such as training and mission modes. Local head to head is included in the battle mode, but you can also play against the computer in single bouts with characters of your choosing should you wish. Online battles are obviously available and will make up the majority of the hours spent for a lot of players, but there isn’t much to vary the action in terms of modes and variants, with just the standard two versus two tag team battles on offer.

Where the solo player experience is concerned, I should never have doubted that the writers of Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite would be able to come up with some implausible way of bringing together the worlds of several previously unlinked Capcom characters and the Marvel universe. The vehicle used to achieve this is called The Convergence and it effectively provides an origin story for all previous Marvel vs Capcom games. Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite picks up on the 88th day since this event began, which avoids a fair amount of introductory preamble between the various characters.

As a result of the merging of both Marvel and Capcom universes, characters from each side unite to face the threat posed by Ultron Sigma, or alternatively, attempt to tackle the threat on their own terms. This results in various different pairings on both sides throughout the game, with occasional clashes between traditional goodies or baddies, for example, just to keep things a bit more interesting. There are lots of fairly bombastic cut scenes to string things together and in all fairness, I don’t think its too badly done even though you may, by now, have read criticism about the story from other publications. If I have a complaint, it is only that there are too many fights against several Ultron Drones, often in frustrating two vs one settings which make switching focus between opponents very painful indeed.

Admirably, the game somehow manages to accommodate basically every single character (from a roster of around 30) into the storyline, which goes on to involve the retrieval of six Infinity Stones. These artifacts hold tremendous power which, in thematic terms, has the potential to defeating Ulton Sigma. I was pleased to see that there is an actual gameplay function to these stones as well, with each granting specific abilities to the team that assigns them. The Space stone, for example, enables players to drag opponents towards them or to cage them in a kind of force field for a set amount of time.

What is perhaps less impressive the roster itself. Of the included characters, the greatest omission is without doubt the X-Men, who have appeared in each of the previous games and are firm fan favourites. Also missing are basically all of the notable female characters from either universe (except Chun-Li and Captain Marvel, who represent 50% of the games four female choices between them before any potential DLC.) There are plenty of disappointing male characters that could have been replaced too, with Chris Redfield, Arthur from Ghouls N’ Ghosts and plenty of others that I would happily bin off in an instant.

In terms of the actual combat, I consider it to be a huge success. Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite focusses on a highly accessible style that features easy juggle combos, simple special moves and super moves that a five year old could nail with regularity. Most of these features are quick and easy to pull off, but relatively few of them are incredibly damaging, which means that advanced techniques will remain the forte of the usual kind of beat-em-up power gamer. There isn’t much chance of advancing your skill level via the mission mode however, thanks largely to it being a very arbitrary addition that feels more basic than the training mode included in the final release of Super Street Fighter on the SNES and Genesis.

Whenever I played, I felt as if I was achieving more than I would usually be able to because so many of the moves involve such explosive visuals. With the characters that I most enjoy using (Haggar, Captain America, Captain Marvel) I can flip enemies into the air before juggling them for some time, slamming them down and then following up with multiple ground based combos and then a super or at least a tasty combo finisher. Even as an average player, I can also manipulate the block and counter system better than I can in most other games, meaning that even when I lose, I rarely feel as if I have performed badly (which I often have, especially online.)

And that, as they say, is that. Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is what I would call a fun and very enjoyable beat-em-up that will be great for local multiplayer with friends who are casual gamers and want to feel as if they are able to be effective from the outset. I doubt I’ll play online for a great length of time, but I am curious to see if I can perfect the use of my favourite characters against a much more competitive and developing player base. On the down side, I don’t love the roster (in particular the loss of Wolverine, Cyclops and co.) and the lack of modes – why can’t we choose between two vs two or three vs three, for example? Why don’t beat-em-ups include tournament and league variants or something new that would am up the interest? When all is said and done, if you’re here for the fighting, then Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is not a bad game to pick up, but if you want ancillary content, there is really just the story mode (which last a few hours at best) to work through.

***½  3.5/5

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