Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite Review: Flashback
Kalvin Martinez / Jan 17th, 2018 No Comments
When I was a little boy, the hottest thing around was Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. As I grew into that liminal space between middle school and high school, my buddies and I couldn’t get enough of Marvel vs. Capcom 2. It was a game that we’d relish any chance we got to play it.
Obviously, Marvel vs. Capcom and its entries made a lasting impression on a generation of gamers and grew a massive competitive following following the years after its initial release. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite tries to shake up the formula by returning to the series’ roots and implement changes to make the game more accessible. However, it suffers to live up to its considerable lineage.
By the fist of Ultron!
Universes collided in the convergence set forth by the sinister Ultron Sigma in its plot to eradicate all organic life, creating a synthetic ruled reality. In order to bring about a synthetic world, Ultron Sigma — powered by two Infinity Stones — has taken over Asgard and unleashed the deadly Sigma virus. Anything the virus touches becomes part of Ultron Sigma. If that wasn’t bad enough, other malevolent forces like M.O.D.O.K. and Jedah have plots of their own to cause mayhem and destruction with a nightmarish symbiote creation.
Now the blind-sighted heroes of both universes must band together if they hope to stand any chance of stopping the multiple threats from consuming their realities. The nature of the threats causes the heroes to get in bed with Thanos. Whether they can trust the Mad Titan or not is always in question, but in order to stop Ultron Sigma they need his intimate knowledge of the Infinity Stones. Good’s ability to triumph over evil will face its greatest test yet as the heroes of both universes try to save reality.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite’s story mode borrows cues from the Marvel cinematic universe, especially recent movies. A gaggle of heroes are forced to work together and overcome their differences to defeat a big bad and a horde of enemies.
Much like the recent movies, the villains lack compelling motivations or strong characterization. Unlike the movies, Infinite stumbles in terms of giving the heroes meaty character moments. Sure Spider-Man and Iron Man crack wise, Frank West is delightfully out of place, and Dante has a roguish attitude, but none of these characters have moments you can really sink your teeth into. It seems like everything is paint by numbers because the various threats have the heroes feeling like the player: we’ve seen it before.
NetherRealm Studios truly pushed the envelope and expanded the boundaries of what a story mode can be in a fighting game with Mortal Kombat. It set the standard for cinematic storytelling within a fighting game. Ever since, other franchises have been playing catch up and continually missing the mark. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite also falls into the not quite getting it camp. What made Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat X’s stories work so well was a focus on character and a reverence for the mythology. This level of care allowed the stories in both games to be silly, over the top, and exciting. The plots were grounded and driven by characters. That isn’t the case for Infinite.
Hella Tag Team
A major push for fighting games in recent years has been to become more accessible. This attempt to appeal to more than just the hardcore fighting game contingent results in targeted and specific changes to gameplay mechanics. The changes aim to curb aspects of the genre that are too demanding. In Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, these changes are readily apparent in the Infinity Stone system, the addition of auto combos, and a generally simplified moveset for characters.
The Infinity Stone system is cool and adds a small layer of strategy to battle. Its Infinity Storm functions mostly similar to the X-Factor system in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, while the stone move can bestow a variety of effects depending on your chosen stone.
The simplifying of the controls continues with even easier to perform moves and the auto combo system. This is where Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite suffers the most. While there is certainly a space for technical proficiency, the call to raise your game is curbed when you can button mash and still reach the same level of success in battle.
While not on the same level as the other changes, the shift from the iconic three-on-three battles players have come to expect and love to the two-on-two matches from the first in the series is another example of trying to ensure accessibility. It isn’t apparent at first, but after revisiting Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the two-versus-two battles in Infinite feel dumbed down.
In many ways what was exciting about the series is lost in the shift. When you remove the third character and the ability to tag out between three characters you get rid of the excitement that characterized the series and made it a top player in the fighting game genre. Ultimately, Infinite lacks some of the chaotic complexity that made Marvel vs. Capcom such an indelible fighting game.
What has hurt Marvel significantly since focusing mostly on its cinematic universe is how it has stopped focusing on properties it doesn’t explicitly own. There is a stark contrast from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to Infinite in terms of characters. The Marvel side has been thinned out considerably thanks to the removal of X-Men and Fantastic Four characters. The overall lack of creative roster choices and the move to two-on-two combat has done away with inspired team choices and the ability to perform outlandishly wild moves.
Despite many of the negatives, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is fun. The fast, fluid gameplay is easy to pick and play even if it lacks depth. While not as successful at re-inventing its formula as Capcom’s Street Fighter V, it gets points for attempting something new. It isn’t a complete failure as a fighting game, but it certainly doesn’t feel like Marvel vs. Capcom.
There is nothing inherently wrong with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. It has smooth gameplay with an okay cinematic story. It isn’t until you dig deeper that the flaws become more apparent. The worst thing about the game’s philosophy of accessibility is that it only serves to turn off the core fan base that would build up and give the game its longevity.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite was reviewed on PlayStation 4 with a code provided by the publisher.
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