Although Uncharted: Golden Abyss will undoubtedly be the poster child for the launch of the PlayStation Vita, Capcom’s Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 should be held as an example of how good it can look. The Vita has an impressive GPU, and UMvC3 is a faithful port of its console counterpart, including the graphics. It also dragged along the same tired format that has needed an upgrade for a few years, but that doesn’t take away from what the game is.
This game specifically, and the franchise in general, have begun to meander down the paths that George Lucas trailblazed. This is essentially the “special edition” version of the game Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, just as the original Ultimate edition was when it was released last fall. So if you are a hardcore fan, there is a chance that this may be the third time you have considered purchasing the same game. If so, you have my sympathies. I’m a Star Wars fan, so I understand.
The Vita version of this game is almost identical to the PS3 version. The graphics are incredibly similar to the console version of the game and lose only a bit. If you have played the PS3 (or Xbox 360) version of this game, then you have played this game. And I mean that as a compliment, mostly.
Some nagging issues that carry over from the original are fundamentally part of the franchise, and no amount of hardware could alter. The 2D formula for fighting games has grown a bit stale, but it continues to do enough right to keep fans coming back. Still, little things like more interactive environments would go a long way. And while it is nice to have all the characters available immediately, having some sort of campaign mode to offer a form of progress would make you feel more invested.
It is what it is though, and fans of the pure 2D fighting game genre will be right at home here. If you put aside how cool it is to see a technologically faithful port of the game hit Vita, then you are left with a 2D fighting franchise that has been in need of an overhaul for a few years now.
But as a port, this game is not only a solid representation of the Vita’s power, it is also the best-looking game on the new system (although Uncharted: Golden Abyss has a decent claim there too). The Vita won’t ever match some of the current console games, but with genres like fighting games (where there is less emphasis on the environments and other non-gameplay elements), there is a very good chance that the Vita ports will be a comparable option for people trying to decide which system to buy the game for.
As for the game itself, it plays almost identically to the port version, for the most part. The analog stick on the Vita is… well, it’s there, but otherwise not much use. Using the D-pad is going to be the way to go. The touchscreen and the touchpad on the back offer a few new options as well, which are good and bad. Using the touchscreen to do things like switch allies is great, but unleashing massive combos with the touch of the combo gage on the front feels a bit like cheating. That is nothing though, compared to the back touchpad, which you can accidentally hit and unleash massive special combo attacks. Even for beginners this will get annoying. Thankfully though, that can all be turned off, so it is a non-issue.
The online side is also about the same as the console version. You can jump online and find ranked or unranked matches, or host your own games. The online side was not up as of the time of this writing, but earlier demos of the hardware were easy to use and lag free. Once the servers are up we will update this review if there is a specific problem. There is also ad-hoc multiplayer which is simple and easy to use.
The Vita is a powerful piece of hardware, and UMvC3 shows off its graphical power. The OLED screen further helps make this game look beautiful. The port is a faithful one in all important regards, for better and worse. The controls are quick and responsive, and the animations were strengthened by a solid 60fps.
As a launch title for a new piece of hardware, this game is incredible. As a port, it is a technological marvel. As a standalone game though, the formula is stale. If you have played the console version of this game and don’t really care about being able to take it with you, then there is nothing new here for you. If you are picking up the Vita and looking for a good fighting game, and you haven’t played this one before, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is an easy pick.
Score: 8 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita on a copy provided by Capcom)