Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite Swings and Misses [E3 2017 Preview]

Pulling together the two huge universes of Marvel and Capcom (each with their own sub-universes like Resident Evil and Street Fighter included) in a story that revolves around a threat from the fused strength of Ultron from Marvel and Sigma from Mega Man X sounds like it just makes sense, and it does. Actually, the story that I got to experience from my demo–that you can also download right now on PS4 and Xbox One– was fast-paced, explosive, and a love letter to fans of both companies. However, it’s when I dug deeper into the character designs and gameplay that I saw some major flaws.

In this story demo, you are thrown right into the middle of a long battle with Ultron Sigma and his robot minions across multiple perspectives, including favorites like Captain Marvel, Strider, Thor, Chris Redfield, and more. As this was clearly partway into the story, it was nice to see the characters interact with one another naturally as if they weren’t from completely different franchises. One scene in particular put a huge grin on my face, as Dante from Devil May Cry came to assist the overwhelmed Rocket Raccoon, throwing him his signature dual pistols in a highly cinematic way. These are two people that should never meet, but this game allows for an unlikely but surprisingly perfect duo like them to pair up.

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It’s unfortunate that the characters’ designs are hard to appreciate in the same way. When Capcom announced Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, fans were in an uproar over the change of art-style from more 2D characters with sharp, comic book-like outlines to full 3D “realistic” graphics, and rightfully so. The graphics are very hit or miss, depending on who you’re looking at. Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange look great, delivering on Infinite’s promise of realism, while the rest of the cast I saw were fine at best and cringe-worthy at worst. For instance, Thor’s face looks like it got ridiculously flattened by a hammer.

This inconsistency carries over to the gameplay, too. Fighting is from the same perspective as previous games, but with the added element of 3D in the background and characters. You have two characters at your disposal in each match, with the ability to switch between them instantly anytime with the press of a button. They each have their own separate health bar and the match ends when both are defeated. Since it was the story, fights were a little more over-the-top than they will hopefully be online. There were several times that I was up against multiple enemies onscreen at once, making it more challenging and less smooth to play. While not to a point where it was unplayable, the frame rate did drop frequently causing significant delay several times between my input on the controller and what happened on the screen.

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My only versus match against a Capcom representative was more positive, but it opened up a brand new problem and that is the implement of Infinity Stones. You select a stone at the start of the match and each one grants a specific benefit, be it a strength boost or altered attack. This adds a level of strategy to every fight, as you can boost your character’s strengths or cover their weaknesses. The added depth is welcome, but in its current state, needs some serious adjustment. What looked like an inevitable win for me through the use of the new auto-combos (helpful for newcomers) was quickly overturned by him using his Infinity Stone.

Suddenly, his special that only damaged about a third of my first character’s HP before now left my unharmed second character with almost nothing left. On the other hand, my stone (a different one) made much less of a difference in comparison.

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite shows promise in terms of story, but it’s issues like this that will reveal whether or not the game will land the punch when it launches on September 19th.