I would have posted this sooner, but between playing the Sly Cooper games and my older son's discovery of websites like ninjakiwi.com, I haven't been on the computer as much. I will talk about my impressions of the Sly games pretty soon.
Marvel vs Capcom 3 has been announced, and they've been showing some gameplay footage already.
Overall, I seem to like it. I'm glad that they listened to the fans and included Dante from 'Devil May Cry', Capcom's stylish action series. I'm glad that they managed to keep the 3-on-3 format from 'Marvel vs Capcom 2'. I was surprised to see Marvel's 'Merc with a Mouth' Deadpool included at first, but I was reminded by the guys at the comic book store that everything seems to get Deadpool added to it these days.
There are a few camps of haters -
"OMG BlazBlue is so much better why don't they make it 2D" I do realize that other companies are still making sprite-based fighters, and my hat is off to companies that are still making that work. Capcom has a variety of series going on now besides the Street Fighter games, most (all?) of which are done with 3D modeled characters because the game environments are 3D. The skill set of their employees and the design of their development tools probably totally slanted towards 3D. We've already heard this complaint directed towards Street Fighter IV, and I have to say that Street Fighter IV's use of a moving camera during special attacks has added a measure of excitement to matches that you can't get from a 2D fighter. And when I say that you can't get it from a 2D fighter, I mean that if you do move the camera around in a 2D fighter, it's like you're watching cardboard cutouts fight. I realize that it's not substantive and doesn't affect the actual fighting mechanics, but I like it. Capcom's old tendency to re-use sprites between games had gotten them in a bad place with Street Fighter fans, especially by the time 'Capcom vs SNK 2' made it to consoles in 2001. There were brand-new SNK characters right next to sprites of Darkstalkers' Morrigan that they hadn't updated since 1994, and it looked terrible. I hope that their use of 3D character models helps them keep up graphically without looking dated.
"I hate this cartoony looking junk." I can think of at least two significant reasons to do a cartoony art style. Marvel characters are from the comics after all, but that's not why. With characters from both comics and a multitude of games, each with its own art style, it's probably more visually consistent to make everybody look more like they just stepped out of a comic book. That way, the game has a unifying visual style that people will associate with the game. Also, if you're going to have six characters on the screen, I presume that the simpler rendering style helps keep the framerate consistently high.
"Why did they simplify the controls? Street Fighter is supposed to be six buttons." I hate to tell you that MvC2 had somewhat simplified controls. While it was still six buttons, the MvC2 layout has two buttons specifically assigned to tagging out to your two partners. The punch buttons and kick buttons were reduced to two each. Not being able to simply have three different speeds of projectile attacks seemed to be the most annoying feature of this change to me. According to the preliminary information, the buttons are three attacks and one exchange button, similar to Tatsunoko vs Capcom. Having played TvC, and being satisfied with how the controls work, I have to say that I like this better than MvC2's controls in this regard. The other major reason to simplify the controls is to help maintain a broader audience.
For years, fighting games had relatively simple controls until Street Fighter. While people were largely unaware of the original Street Fighter, these special moves carried over to the very popular Street Fighter II. These, in turn, influenced Mortal Kombat and other some games in the genre, but not all of them. For whatever reason, the Street Fighter Alpha series started more and different controller techniques, taking its lead from the last Street Fighter II game, Super Street Fighter II Turbo. The Street Fighter Alpha included Alpha counters and multi-level Super moves, and Street Fighter Alpha 2 included the Variable Combo attack. As more and different kinds of special attacks were added to the game, it became more of a barrier to entry for new players. By the time Capcom finally made Street Fighter 3 (1997) and added the Parry system, it was no longer enough to know all of your character's moves. To be proficient at Street Fighter 3, you had to know the precise hit timing of all of your opponent's moves. This was made worse by Street Fighter 3 only having a home version on the Dreamcast for the first few years and was not released to the more widely popular home systems (PS2, Xbox) until 2004. Another setback was removal of a lot of fan favorites from Street Fighter II and too many new characters. This narrowing of focus made Street Fighter 3:Third Strike a technically great game, but not played by a wide audience, and not easy to get into for new players. Capcom had explicitly stated during development of Street Fighter 4 that they wanted to bring their fighting games back to a wider audience, and they have done a great job with that – and it's even more important in a game like Marvel vs Capcom 3, because they need to bring in new Marvel fans into the fold and make it easy to get into the game.
I'm sure that some of you can come up with more objections, and feel free to comment away – I'm going to get on with the roster analysis, though.
The characters that have already been announced are: (Game Series in parenthesis)
- Chris Redfield (Resident Evil)
- Dante (Devil May Cry)
- Felicia (Darkstalkers)
- Morrigan (Darkstalkers)
- Ryu (Street Fighter)
And on the Marvel side:
- Captain America
- Dormammu (villan from Dr. Strange)
- Iron Man
Based on the rosters of past games, there are some reasonable assumptions, and some not-so-reasonable assumptions.
Looking at "Marvel vs Capcom" and "Marvel vs Capcom 2" only, a presumption might be that anyone that was in both of the other games would be in this one. If that turns out to be true, then we could expect to see Gambit, Spiderman, War Machine, and Venom on the Marvel side - although Gambit's somewhat of a longshot (and personally I'd rather see Longshot although I have no idea how you could implement his powers in a fighting game). On the Capcom side, that would put Captain Commando, Chun-Li, Jin, Mega Man, Roll, Strider Hiryu, and Zangief in the lineup. Even though he was sort of the Capcom mascot, since Captain Commando has a bunch of other teammates to model, I'm going to say unlikely to him. Chun-Li and Zangief are already modeled in SF4 (and Chun-Li has also been modeled in TvC) so they would be easy enough to do. Mega Man seems likely, but I'm going to say maybe not Roll since I'm hoping they have enough sense to keep super-short characters out this time. Jin and Strider Hiryu have not been featured in any modern games, so they may be out too.
Looking deeper into the previous Capcom superhero fighting games (X-Men: Children of the Atom, Marvel Super Heroes, X-Men vs Street Fighter, and Marvel vs Street Fighter), a few more characters may get considered. Blackheart has been in three previous games , although perhaps he's not relevant as a bad guy any more. The same thing could be said for Omega Red. Juggernaut has been in a few times before, is a fun character to use, and still manages to be relevant in the comic books. I would say that he's got a good chance to make the cut unless there's some storyline related reason for him not to be there. Shuma-Gorath has made some previous appearances but is another Dr. Strange villan. (He looks like an octopus with a giant eyeball as a head.) Unless they're willing to put Dr. Strange in, I think Dormammu's appearance will keep Shuma-Gorath out. If they go for more X-Men involvement, Cyclops, Magneto, and Storm, could end up in the game. On the Capcom side, Akuma, Cammy, Charlie, Dhalsim, Ken, and M. Bison have all been in their fair share of the crossover games. Should they go in again, or is it time to let some more new characters in? Blanka hasn't made it into any of the crossover games yet and I would like to see him make it in one. Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil 2 and 4? Maybe he's redundant with Chris Redfield already there. Samanosuke Akechi from Onimusha? It's not like he'd be the only one with a sword. Zack & Wiki? The little devil dude from Bombastic? The white wolf Ameratsu from Okami? No, no, and probably not. It's not like Capcom has a shortage of characters, but a lot of them are too short. I realize that the Vs series games has had more of an emphasis on having fun and wacky characters than having a well balanced roster, but I tire of playing against short opponents. Based on my past experience with the Vs games, I'd rather fight against the Hulk than Servbot.
I also wouldn't be surprised to see some appearances by newer characters from Lost Planet or Monster Hunter, or perhaps some more Darkstalkers characters to try and stir up interest for a new Darkstalkers game using the new game engine.
At this point, I would encourage anybody interested in Marvel vs Capcom 3 to keep checking Capcom's website at www.marvelvscapcom3.com for new characters as they're announced. And, after all this typing, I may post an abbreviations guide for Capcom fighting game titles so that I'm not retyping them constantly.