Thursday, April 27, 2017
Never a series for subtlety or restraint, Marvel vs. Capcom has always revelled in mainlining bright, comic book colours and flashy combos directly into your retinas, and happily Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is no different in that regard. Although the follow up to MvC 3: Fate of Two Worlds does change the rules somewhat. First of all, 3v3 battles are out in favour of 2v2 bouts; just one change in Capcom's quest to make Infinite a more accessible fighting game to newcomers without alienating the hardened fight veterans out there.
“We wanted to open up all of the possibilities in the game,” Lead Producer Mike Evens tells us. “And part of that was to simplify the design.” That means completely refining the control system, chipping away a lot of the fripperies to get the very nub of the game. You have light and heavy punches and light and heavy kicks mapped to face buttons, while character switching is on the right bumper. So far, so simple. Then there's the new Infinity Stones system, putting an Infinity Surge unique to each stone on L1, and activating an Infinity Storm (described by Capcom as a “Grand Action”) is merely a case of mashing both bumpers.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite has complex combo strings if you want them, but any newbie can pull off aerial launchers, simple combos or Hyper Combo finishers without breaking a sweat. A universal combo string also gives players of any skill level a go-to combination to get started with, and as there are no rules when it comes to character switching, the barrier to entry in MvC: Infinite is far lower than its ever been. If you're worried that the introduction of Infinity Stones could muddy the waters, fear not. They're dead simple to use too and you choose one at a time to take into battle.
So far, Capcom has revealed the Space, Time and Power stones, and none seem particularly over-powered or unfair. The Space stone draws in opponents with a Surge or temporarily traps them in a box that they can still fight out of upon unleashing a Storm, while a Time Surge enables you to dash through projectiles moving at speed, and its Infinity Storm grants ramped up speed for as long as the two-celled Infinity meter will allow. The Power Stone is self-explanatory, with strikes inflicting more damage. Mind, Reality and Soul are the remaining stones to be revealed, so we're not sure what they'll do just yet.
There's strategy at work too, of course, your special meter able to be charged up to level 4 for a maxed out Hyper Combo, and the Infinity Stone meter allowing you to spend one half on an Infinity Storm or build both segments to make it last longer. It's worth noting that Hyper Combos are also easy to bust out by pressing heavy punch and heavy kick together. It doesn't get much simpler than that. Further strategy will, of course, be dictated by which characters you choose, 14 of which have been revealed so far. Expect loads more to join Iron Man, Ryu, Hulk, Thor, Strider, Captain Marvel, Mega Man X et al. No doubt, you'll have your favourites.
As for Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite's “cinematic” story, Avengers big bad Ultron joins forces with Mega Man X antagonist Sigma to form Ultron Sigma, a being hell-bent on infecting all organic life across both universes with a cybernetic virus. Pitched as a “relaunching of the brand” by Associate Producer Peter Rosas, Infinite's narrative and look is less inspired by Marvel's printed output, and more in keeping with the MCU, albeit still pleasingly chunky in a suitably comic book way. The result is something ever so slightly grittier, but lacking none of the eye-searing visual pizazz that the series is famed for.
While some might see Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite's efforts to be more inviting a concept that could turn off the fighting genre faithful, our initial hands-on impressions are that the increased accessibility does nothing to take away from what's always been at the heart of the series. Simplification in this instance could work in MvC's favour, its 2v2 character switching “less cumbersome” according to Rosas, while character balancing and the addition of new or tweaked moves ought to make for something that feels a little less intimidating.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is an appealing prospect then, its pared down approach a potentially smart idea that could broaden the game's audience. If not, there'll still be a Training mode to fall back on to help players learn the ropes or brush up on their skills, alongside the usual single-player Mission and Arcade modes, multiplayer casual and ranked matches, leaderboards and all that jazz. Aiming to be both easy to pick up and play but still a challenge to master, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite appears to be on the right track, so now we just need to see more characters, please, Capcom.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite launches for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on 19th September 2017.
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