Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Also on: PS3, X360
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Medium: Vita Card / Digital Download
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

I feel like I?ve written way too many Marvel vs. Capcom 3 reviews over the last year or so, but while I was kind of lukewarm on the home console version of Ultimate, I?ll throw out that the Vita game is an exceptionally well done port, and pretty much sets the bar for what the Vita can do with the fighting game genre. We?ve come a long way from the Gameboy version of Street Fighter II, and it?s nice to see a handheld that?s able to adequately go toe to toe with its big brother system.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 gives you the full roster, stage, and features of the home console version. The only real difference worth mentioning is that the backgrounds for stages are all non-animated now, but overall that feels like a pretty minor loss. Besides that, everything looks and feels pretty damn accurate. Character animation is still top notch, there?s no loss in framerate, and everything controls how you?d expect.

The PS Vita d-pad is turning out to be pretty excellent for fighters, as I noted in my BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend review, and that still holds true for Marvel. There is an optional touch screen control method, which has you tapping on the screen to kind of auto attack and toss out specials, but it?s not quite what I?d call precise.

The game comes loaded with your standard set of online and offline modes. You?ve got a story based arcade mode, character challenges, training, and simple vs. modes. For the online side you?re divided between ranked and player matches, with a number of search options for both. You can also opt to play arcade mode with match requests turned on, which will boot you from single player to an online vs. match whenever a connection turns up.

The online play feels pretty smooth throughout, I had little issues with lag and no issues with finding other players to compete against. This will fill out even more this week with the official launch, so if you?re looking for a familiar and competitive fighter to mess around with this week, Marvel is definitely worth a look.

Visually the game looks crisp on the OLED screen, and the framerate remains steady throughout all the action. My only complaint in the visuals is that certain menu screens look awfully pixelated, as if they?re low-res compared to the rest of the images surrounding them.

Besides the content on the cart, when you boot up Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the first time with an online connection, you?ll be prompted to do an update, which will also download the Heroes and Heralds mode. H and H was introduced as post launch DLC for the home console version, and since I reviewed the original prior to that release, this content was a little more fresh for me.

Heroes and Heralds can be played online and off, and has you selecting a side to play as and battle it out against either an AI controlled opponent offline or an actual player online in order to wrestle control from the other side. The online mode locks you into the side you select for one week, and at the end of that week tallies up the total wins and losses for each side across all players to determine the victor.

The offline mode gives you a grid of locations, with a percentage to build up to in order to gain control of that location from the other side. Along with that, you?re give a bingo style sheet of character faces to X out after each victory, and getting five in a row will unlock a special area that?ll net you better rewards than usual.

The rewards come in the form of cards, which form an underlying mechanic for Heroes and Heralds. You?re able to build a deck out of three cards, and each card has a primary and secondary ability. The cards are based on characters from both the Marvel and Capcom universes, and feature characters that aren?t selectable in the game.

The abilities run the gamut of increasing your special meter fill rate, to causing you to turn invisible after being hit with a 30 hit combo. There are a pretty large number of cards to unlock, with rarities to boot, so if you?re into the concept you?ll spend a lot of time with this mode. It?s definitely my new favorite thing about the game, and I?m really glad to see it included as free, day one DLC for the Vita release.

A couple things worth mentioning in regards to bugs or glitches I?ve encountered with this release. I picked up a digital copy of the game, and my initial boot up actually didn?t work. The game would freeze up at the Press Any Button title screen, multiple times. This seemed to be fixed when I was able to connect to a Wi-Fi spot, so I?m not sure if the game is looking for a connection at the onset but I did have some trouble with that.

The other issue I ran into was that the sound would randomly cut out. With new hardware it?s tough to say whether it?s the game or the system, but among the 5 or 6 launch titles I?ve played, this is the only game that had that issue. It was easily remedied by pressing the PS home button and then going right back into the game, but it was annoying nonetheless.

I?ll admit it might be a tough pill to swallow in regards to picking up this game for a third time, but having it in a portable form that?s nearly identical to the home console versions is certainly a pretty big plus. Ideally this is for the hardcore fan, or the person who held off buying Ultimate the first time around because they didn?t want another version of the game 9 months after the last one released. If you fall into either of these camps, then you should definitely pick this one up. I don?t think there?s enough here to really blow away any casual fan, but it?s certainly worth a look and right up there with BlazBlue as a pretty awesome launch title for fighting game fans.

Grade: B