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Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Local); 2 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Fighting/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Itís been a great year for Marvel properties, between Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and the highly-anticipated Thor: Ragnarok. And their old partner-in-crime Capcom is following suit; Resident Evil VII: Biohazard turned out great, weíre getting some exciting remasters, weíve finally got a date for Monster Hunter World, and now weíve finally got Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Iíve always considered this long-running crossover fighting franchise to be something of a kitchen sink; if it can go extra, it usually does. Sometimes, it fills its roster with such manic, excessive fervor that it leaves balance by the wayside. Other times, it tries new things and polarizes its community. Iím not going to go far enough to say that Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite plays it safe, but all things considered, I think it will be a crowd pleaser. Itís yet another of those total package fighting games; an excellent modern tradition of the genre. Some aspects are a bit rough around the edges, but itís absolutely got it where it counts. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite is an exuberant, endlessly-charming fighter and one of the best, wackiest crossover projects in ages.

I canít speak for how anyone will react to Marvel vs. Capcom Infiniteís art style, but I can say that whatever the reaction is will be identical to their reaction to the story. There are people who will feel that the aesthetics inherent to both universes come together with all the grace of an Amtrak meeting a herd of confused oxen. And then there are people who will acknowledge the inherent silliness of the entire endeavor and choose to simply grin like an idiot. Iím in that particular camp Ė and I do mean camp. This is a seriously bonkers project that knows exactly how stupid it is, and the fact that the artists have chosen to play it with a completely straight face makes it a scream. It takes a loose visual interpretation of most of what weíve come to expect from the Marvel Universe (Cinematic and otherwise) and the closest thing to a quasi-realistic representation of what youíd expect from Capcomís backlog over the last three or so decades. The game literally opens with Captain America fighting side by side with Mega Man X, and within five minutes, Arthur from Ghosts 'n' Goblins appears in all his diminutive glory. There are lots of enormous bodies with tiny little heads on them. Whether or not it works for you depends entirely on what you want to see. There are some objective downsides to the visuals; for some reason, the game gets really jerky when you take an opponent down. Instead of the graceful, almost poetic visuals we're used to seeing in Capcom fighters, we get something that looks much more like a slideshow. Capping it off are the load times, which are frequent and often inordinately lengthy.

Voice work is both self-serious and bizarrely self-aware. How could it not be? On the one hand you have the wisecracking Marvel heroes/anti-heroes, and on the other side, youíve got the almost deathly-serious Capcom heroes. Throw in some snarky back-and-forth that is often so bad itís (sometimes) good, and it's safe to say that Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite nails the tone it's going for. Based on what kind of fan you are, your mileage will vary on this front. As far as the music goes, it's energetic, exciting, and full of bombast. It's nothing I'll be listening to during my commutes to work or visits to the gym, but it's by no means bad.


Gameplay:

Ultron Sigma. If youíre a fan of both Marvel and Capcom, you know exactly what youíre in for the second you hear that name. A portmanteau of the cybernetic Avengers supervillain and the ubiquitous leader of the Mavericks from the Mega Man X series, Ultron Sigma rose to power shortly after an event known colloquially as "The Convergence." Heís basically the Borg from Star Trek, and it's up to the finest champions from both universes to team up and take him down. Marvel vs Capcom Infinite's Story Mode is several hours of what Starscream and I affectionately refer to as "dum sh*t." The interactions depicted here must be seen to be believed; theyíre both magnificently true to character and cheesy as hell. It's basically intentionally bad fanfiction, and while it rarely makes sense, it generally succeeds at entertaining.

Let's be realistic, however, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite's narrative ambitions only exist to keep up with the trends; while it's lightyears beyond the idiocy of Dead or Alive 5 and Soul Calibur V, it can't stack up to anything NetherRealm has done in the last five years, much less Injustice 2, which is far and away 2017's best fighting game.

Once you leave the Story Mode behind, it's time to dig into the real meat of Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Unlike last year's Street Fighter V, this is actually a complete package, offering the depth and breadth of content that we've come to expect from modern, fully-priced fighters.

Naturally, you've got an Arcade Mode variant that allows you to take on a series of challengers, ladder-style. Fight your way to the top to earn your bragging rights, on top of some good old-fashioned rewards. Things get a bit more interesting with Mission Mode; a series of interesting challenges designed specifically to give you a foundation of knowledge on how to use each and every character. It's definitely designed for those players who want to actually learn some honest skills instead of button-mashing their way to victory.

Of course, this is a fighting game, so naturally, it's got some competitive elements, both local and online. Whether you're looking for something hardcore or something more casual, you'll find it in spades. Lobbies can hold up to eight if you want to just fool around with your friends, but based on my experience, matchmaking is proving pretty stable if you feel you've got something to prove.


Difficulty:

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite is replete with training tools, and even the greenest of scrubs should find its welcoming embrace a gentle one, provided it's their first destination. I've already mentioned Mission Mode; its first order of business is basically an information dump of all the major mechanics. Even seasoned veterans should make this their first stop, because there are some new mechanics at play.

Once you're out of the kiddie pool, your experience will vary. Story Mode is generally easy, and not necessarily in a good way; lots of battles involve taking out a series of faceless drones -- too many, in fact. And certain matches are painful bouts of almost unbearably tedious attrition, seemingly designed to encourage effective but boring tactics over engaging, tactical play. Two endgame encounters are particularly egregious offenders. Overall, I'd say it's not that bad, but those spikes are pretty rough.


Game Mechanics:

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite is, like its predecessors, what I like to call a "bloody thumbs" kind of fighting game. While there are some rudimentary defensive mechanics, this is much more about being the best at inputting a lightning-fast, laser-precise onslaught of commands. Thankfully, the controls are responsive and the animation work is fluid enough to allow you to rise to the challenge.

This time around, you pick two combatants instead of the usual three; a smart design decision to alleviate the pacing problems that often plagued fights in earlier entries. Much of what you may remember from Marvel vs. Capcom games is intact, from the rapid-fire attacks and high mobility (both horizontal and vertical). Of course, you can switch between your heroes (or villains) on the fly, and damage taken that wasn't permanent can heal up over time. It's still primarily an offensive fighter, but there's some light strategy involved in most match-ups.

Hyper Combos return, and they're as simple to pull off as they've ever been. In this game, they're so easy to block that the challenge is less in the input and more in reading the situation and knowing when you can inflict the maximum possible damage.

True to its name, the Infinity Stones play a huge role in Marvel vs. Capcom Infinte. They're not just MacGuffins: they play a substantial role in the gameplay and can turn the tide of battle if used properly. All six make their appearance, and each has two functions. The most basic use of an Infinity Stone is called an Infinity Surge. It's a quick active ability that does its best to fit in contextually with the aspect of the stone itself. For example, the Infinity Surge associated with the Soul Stone is a quick-fire health leech that can help a beleaguered fighter regain some lost vitality. The other use is the Infinity Storm, and it uses a meter of its own. These have lengthier, more pronounced effects, and they can be used to either help you or harm your opponent, depending on the stone you have equipped. For example, the Space Stone's Infinity Storm places an energy cage around your opponent, keeping him/her confined to a small area while you whale away at their health bar until the meter runs out. There's a lot of neat stuff you can do with the Infinity Stones, and they're a huge part of what makes Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite special.

Purists of both comic book culture and fighting games may be put off by some of what Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite delivers, but ultimately, that's the wrong way to look at it. There's a certain mindset with which everyone must approach this game, and by that, I mean there's a certain part of your brain that should be turned off before playing. If your tolerance for goofy nonsense is ironclad and you like your fighting games fast and furious, this is the one to play. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite offers a fine note on which to end a fantastic year for fighting games.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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