Photo Credit: BagoGames via Flickr
It’s a commonly understood principle that crossovers, especially those of the superhero variety, print money. Riches beyond the wildest of imaginations awaits whoever can convert fanboy wet dreams into legal tender. Capcom struck gold back in the nineties when it combined its own juggernaut stable of gaming intellectual properties with the eclectic cast of Marvel comics. Since then the Marvel vs. Capcom series has regularly been at the forefront of its genre, having all but written the book on hype in the competitive fighting game space. The cherished legacy of these games has bred something of a territorial fandom. When it was announced that Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite would be bringing the franchise to the next generation of consoles, excitement and expectation were high in equal measure.While Infinite is certainly a solid game, it feels tepid when surrounded not only by its siblings but also its competition. In a nutshell, we have a game that truly puts the ‘finite’ in ‘infinite’.
While Infinite is certainly a solid game, it feels tepid when surrounded not only by its siblings but also its competition.
When it comes down to the core fighting mechanics, Infinite delivers in spades. It smartly trims the fat of its predecessors, resulting in razor sharp 2v2 tag-team combat that thankfully doesn’t yield on the blistering pace and hair-raising tension the series is known for. Marvel vs Capcom 3 was an excellent game to watch but a terrible game to play in the sense that the slightest touch from a relatively skilled opponent would often lead to a devastating, health bar chewing combo that ended matches before they even started. Infinite positively lowers the skill ceiling in subtle ways. The ability to tag your partner in whenever you want is a small change on paper, but it’s ultimately one that rewires the mentality with which matches are played. This allows for some of the most expressive and creative combos this series has ever seen.
The implementation of easy to execute combos enables newcomers to compete without undermining the work that the more dedicated players will inevitably put into learning the ropes. The Infinity Stones are welcome game changers, with each turning the tide of battle by forcing situations that feel both distinct yet balanced from one another. This pushes the user to wield their powers effectively while testing the victim’s adaptability. These are far superior to the wretched X-Factor from previous games and discovering which stone best compliments your team’s synergy is a wonderful new learning curve in of itself.
The Infinity Stones are welcome game changers, with each turning the tide of battle by forcing situations that feel both distinct yet balanced from one another.
Gameplay wise, Infinite is perhaps the finest the series has seen. However, there’s a reason that Marvel vs Capcom 2, despite being mechanically broken, is considered the crown jewel by the fans. Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is utterly lacking in charm and heart, bereft of enthusiasm for its own premise. Marvel and Capcom were never the most compatible universes that have ever collided but the novelty of such a union has always been a large part of the appeal for fans. Yet Infinite feels as though it couldn’t be bothered in this regard.
Disappointingly, the game’s roster of fighters is clearly modelled on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, meaning that Marvel’s side of the conflict is noticeably hollow. This series was inextricably built on the X-Men and thus, their blatant absence is enough to hurt the experience.
Despite the satisfying combat, one cannot ignore how distractingly bad Infinite looks. The realistic art-style, again in pursuit of that MCU feel, may work for Marvel’s heroes (despite their steroid-induced proportions) but the Japanese Capcom characters fare far worse and are quite unnerving to look at. The lack of a bombastic presentation gives Infinite no strong identity whatsoever. It pales in comparison to its predecessors who visually hold up after all these years.
Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is playable across a suite of modes but it’s most ambitious feat by far is its story mode. For the first time in history, there is a narrative pulling these two universes together. While we’ve come to accept all these Marvel heroes dwelling on the same landscape, on the Capcom side however, the story mode hilariously implies Ghosts n’ Goblins shares the same plain of existence as Street Fighter and Mega Man. The story mode is utter nonsense and the terrible character exchanges exposes the inherently mismatched nature of this pairing. Yet there’s an endearing quality to its cringe inducing cheese factor. A little dull to play through but an inoffensive romp on the whole.
Marvel vs Capcom is a deeply flawed package brimming with potential. For everything it does superbly, it makes many mistakes. Sadly, the crossover itself is not a compelling case to pick up a copy. Fans of Capcom fighters will find plenty to enjoy in Infinite’s mechanics but as a package, it’s objectively outclassed by its competition. For dedicated players only.