QCF: Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite

hange is ever constant in anything and everything we do, and that sentiment couldn’t be more apparent than the latest installment to Capcom’s Versus series, Marvel Versus Capcom Infinite.

While the previous entry was able to exercise a surprising amount of creative control within the aftermath of Disney’s startling acquisition of Marvel, the landscape is now far more different than it was six years ago, and the Comic Publisher’s ongoing licensing struggles have made their way into the development of the sequel.

To top that off, the recent resurgence of the fighting game craze in the mainstream from games like Killer Instinct Season 3, Injustice 2, and Pokken Tournament DX have raised the bar for on what the fans of the genre anticipate out of new releases, especially when it comes to the pedigree expected out of something like the Capcom Versus Series.

With the odds seemingly stacked against development, the direction of Infinite shifted, seemingly geared more towards accessibility, and a new narrative-heavy approach that emphasized all the zany fan-service that Capcom could squeeze out of the crossover.

The end result makes for a competent entry that manages to introduce a few compelling new concepts, but ultimately plays it way too safe with everything else, delivering an experience that leaves a lot more to be desired.

One of the more noticeable differences in MVC Infinite is just how slow the pace of the combat is in comparison to its predecessors; the direction seems to be more concerned with form over function this time around.

That’s not to say that the gameplay is devoid of its trademark frenzy of course, but the flow is certainly scaled back, as certain movements and maneuvers use more frames of animation in their execution than what you’d expect. Everything from a character’s aerial rave launcher, to their specials, like Spiderman’s Maximum Spider, all have a more reserved sequence to their timing, setting back the flow enough clips to disorient even the most seasoned of players. Another one of the bigger changes in Infinite is to the tag team mechanic, going with a 2V2 format instead of the traditional three-on-three arrangement that the series was founded upon.

By subtracting one fighter from the melee, the absence works to mitigate even more of the usual chaos that the series is famous for with a setup that’s meant to be more intimate, and yet the change just comes off lacking instead. Not only does the reduction to your team lineup limit the possible combination of support strategies, and play styles, it also dials back the endurance factor to certain match-ups significantly.

In its place however, is a new mechanic that somewhat makes up for the lack of the scale back pace and variety by throwing in a new layer of strategical depth never before explored in the Marvel iterations of the Versus series; the Infinity Stones. The powerful stones are legendary for their cosmic energy, and similarly to the comic book pages that they hail from, represent six different fundamental elements that significantly alter the tides of battle when activated. The modifiers from the stones are loosely based on the namesakes of the iconic gems themselves, each influencing the nature of specific fighting game principles when triggered during a match. The Space Stone for example grants players the ability to pull their opponents in close-range to them when connected, and when used at its max level, can imprison opponents within a narrow force field of space that will leave them with hardly any room to move or jump around in.

While the new support system is certainly much less hectic than the three-on-three maneuvers that previously dominated the franchise’s meta-game, the infinity stone mechanic is pretty sparse in its own right, as it ultimately takes away a lot of the variety players used to have when assembling their teams. Sure, you can create some effective pairings between certain stones and characters like Spider-Man and the Reality Stone for instance, as the gem lends projectile attacks that complement the hero’s prowess with long-distance combat, but the combinations just too limited to get excited about.

The stones aren’t the only thing that’re lacking though, as the roster in this new iteration Is kind of lame, lacking a lot of the charm and heart that Marvel VS Capcom 3 had its cast of fighters.

To Capcom’s credit, the team did the best that they could to fill in the absences left behind by the likes of Wolverine and Sentinel with newcomers like Gamora, and Ultron, but the adaptions of their archetypes just can’t compensate for the lack of their counterparts and rest of the X-Men characters that don’t make it to the roster. Even Capcom mainstays like Tron Bonne and Felicia are nowhere to be seen as we’re treated instead to the likes of Jedah from Darkstalkers, and X from Mega Man X, both who, to some effect, also come across like second-rate substitutions to the superior analogs they take after from the prior entries of the Versus series.

The new story mode doesn’t do the catalog of combatants any favors either as it somehow manages to make them even less appealing, by cramming each character they could with poorly written dialogue and cringe-inducing plotlines that’s bad enough to make even the crappiest fanfiction look like work done by Brian Michael Bendis by comparison.

I shit you not folks, at one point in the quote-unquote “Story-driven” campaign, Dante from Devil May Cry tosses his trademark firearms over to Rocket Racoon to use when he runs out of ammunition, and the scene just plays out in a way that’s unbearably hackneyed. This moment, and so many others were just plain stomach-churning; I honestly don’t think that words could truly give justice to just how bad some these desperate attempts at fan service really were you guys.

In an attempt to make the latest entry to the Marvel Vs Capcom series more accessible to demographics outside of the fighting game scene, Capcom has only managed to dilute the experience with shallow gameplay instead, and a half-hearted presentation that betrays the goodwill that the Versus brand had worked for years to maintain.

For as flawed as Street Fighter V may have been when it first came out, the poor mechanical execution, and lack of content the game suffered from has now been ironed out over time—the same kind of hope can’t be held out for here though, as there just isn’t much that can be salvaged out Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite. If you’re going to check it out, then stick with a trip to your nearest Redbox because your money could be honestly better spent elsewhere.

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