Playing Marvel vs Capcom Infinite has been one of the most conflicting experiences I’ve ever had. While the gameplay and netcode are absolutely fantastic, the visuals, UI, and roster are painfully lacking.
Marvel vs Capcom Infinite
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
Monstervine was supplied with a PS4 Code for review.
I consider the Marvel vs Capcom series to be my all-time favorite fighting game series. Full of fast and visually stimulating gameplay, Marvel vs Capcom has always combined style with substance, while providing players with plenty of characters from both sides, both beloved and somewhat unknown. As news started to come out about Infinite having a lacking roster, and as the game’s smart-phone visuals were shown more and more, I became hesitant; but nothing could diminish my excitement for the long awaited fourth Marvel vs Capcom game. Yet here we are, with a game that still has me feeling somewhat confused.
Since day one, Capcom has been very focused on emphasizing the story mode of Marvel vs Capcom Infinite. This may not have been the best idea, as the story mode is largely lackluster from both a narrative and a gameplay standpoint. The basic premise of Infinite’s story is that Ultron, the murderous Marvel android, and Sigma, the murderous Capcom android, fuse together to conquer both universes. The concept itself is fun, as Ultron and Sigma are two of the best villains from their respective universes; it’s just the execution that leaves a lot to be desired.
Using the all-powerful Infinity Stones, Ultron and Sigma are trying to destroy all biological (non-robotic) life. Naturally, the heroes of both worlds won’t let that happen, so they all team up to battle the newly-fused Ultron Sigma, the Darkstalker Jedah, and a seemingly endless amount of Ultron drones. There are some fun character interactions dispersed throughout the Story mode (Rocket using Dante’s guns, Frank trying to smash the A.I.M. machine with Chris), but it isn’t enough to salvage the nonsensical dragging plotline.
There are some cringeworthy moments of dialogue that serve to draw out the already slow narrative, but the worst part of the story is the sheer lack of missed opportunities. Both Black Panther and Monster Hunter appear in the story in incredibly minor roles, but aren’t playable for a single match (despite their implied participation in some story fights). This feels cheap and stingy, as these two characters are essentially there to advertise their upcoming DLC. Overall the story is boring and full of wasted potential.
On the other hand, Infinite plays like a dream. Infinite deviates from the last two entries of the series by cutting down to two characters on each team, reduced from the previous 3v3 format. Air combat is less prevalent, largely because of the lack of a dedicated launch button. Combat is more grounded, and more focused on using “active combos”, which are initiated when you swap characters while performing a combo. The limitation of having two characters really makes you think about which characters would work well with one another. I’ve used Hawkeye since Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, so he carried over nicely as a projectile-focused character. I find Ultron and Jedah compliment his style well, so my main team has a nice mix of gameplay styles. It’s really satisfying to use a team that meshes well with how you prefer to play fighting games, so the more compressed team format is a surprisingly welcome change.
The other major gameplay change comes in the form of the Infinity Stones, Infinite’s far more palatable X-Factor. The 6 multi-colored stones, themed around Time, Space, Soul, Mind, Reality, and Power, each contain their own unique ability that can be used in battle. The Power stone, for example, gives you a powerful strike that knocks opponents into the wall, while the Time stone gives you an invincible dash to get behind your opponent. Once your Infinity Gauge is full, you can initiate an Infinity Storm. This gives you latent access to the full power of the stone, with new or enhanced versions of the buffs the stones would regularly give you.
While I’d say the Reality stone, which gives your attacks full-screen elemental effect, is a bit better than any of the others, there’s a decent sense of balance to keep things feeling fair no matter which stone you prefer. For example, I use the Soul Stone because it brings back a downed character and lets both characters attack the opponent as long as Infinity Storm is in effect. This better suits my aggressive playstyle, but wouldn’t work with someone who like the knockback attacks the Power stone allows. I like the Infinity Stone system quite a lot, as it works well alongside the more grounded combat of Infinite.
The major disappointment on the gameplay side of things is the roster. To be blunt, it’s terrible. Only six of 30 launch characters are new to Infinite, with an enormous carryover of characters from Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. The inclusion of some of these characters is mind-boggling; why have Spencer from Bionic Commando return when the character isn’t especially popular and the franchise is entirely dead? Does Ghosts and Goblins really need two representatives? I knew going into Infinite that the Marvel side would be completely skewed towards the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the only new characters are Gamora, Captain Marvel, and Ultron (and Thanos with his new playstyle if I’m feeling generous). This is unacceptable, especially when all X-Men and Fantastic Four characters with completely removed in their place. I get that Marvel is in a rights-war with FOX, but there is literally no reason to not include, at the very least, hugely popular characters like Wolverine and Deadpool. And if you thought it couldn’t get worse, Capcom has already announced six all-new DLC characters. Rather than including more than 6 new characters in-game, Capcom is reverting to their Street Fighter X Tekken ways and having the same amount of new characters available as paid DLC, which is painfully disappointing.
On the plus side, the netcode in Infinite is exceptional. I haven’t had a single issue online so far, with no noticeable lag or input issues. While match-making seems to be a bit slow, once a match is found you’re set and ready to go. Good netcode is essential to a fighting game’s mutliplayer and longevity, so I’m quite pleased with how smooth online is.
Infinite’s visuals are largely difficult to look at. While non-human characters like X and Jedah tend to be alright, humans like Chris, Dante, and Captain America all look, to put it plainly, bad. Eyes bulge, facial structures bend, and hair stays perfectly in place, making for an unsettling look to a decent chunk of the roster. These issues are mainly a result of Infinite’s lack of a unified art-style. While UMvC3 had thick lines and comic-esque designs, Infinite has no sense of purpose artistically, making it look like a glorified phone game. There’s simply nothing unique about how the game looks, which is disappointing. Marvel and Capcom have some of the most colorful, energetic, and intricately-designed characters in existence, so it’s a true shame to see them all look so bland.
The UI isn’t much better, as a lot of the screens look cheap and rushed out. Simply having stage backgrounds and character models posed behind menus makes for a lazy aesthetic, especially when the models look so rough. There isn’t even a text box for victory-screen dialogue, making the white text sometimes illegible.
The audio front of Infinite isn’t great either, as the voice direction and music leaves a lot to be desired. While the Capcom characters have a fun selection of remixes from their respective games, the character themes on the Marvel side have been completely butchered. Gone are the catchy tunes that embodied the characters they represented, as they’ve been replaced with “cinematic” scores that leave your mind as soon as they’re done playing. This is such an unnecessary change that I can only assume is a result of feeling the need to shape Marvel vs Capcom in the MCU’s image. I love Marvel movies and I’m fine with bits of the game being influenced by it, but when the entire tone of the series changes to suit the films, that’s just too much.
The voices have a great deal of potential, but the writing and directing do them no favors. A lot of the voice actors from UMvC3 return for the Marvel characters, which is fantastic- the only issue is that their lines are generic and they sound almost bored. The Capcom characters fare a bit better, with Jedah and Arthur standing out since they sound fittingly cheesy (Jedah’s laugh is flawless). A lot of lines are just re-recorded versions of intros and outros from UMvC3, but with less enthusiasm. The replaced voices go between alright (Spider-Man) and disappointing (Ghost Rider), which brings into question the choice to only keep certain voice actors.
A big part of why I love Marvel vs Capcom so much is because it feels like an explosive celebration of both companies and the worlds they’ve crafted, a feeling that is almost entirely absent in Infinite. Rather than a celebration, Infinite feels like a promotion for upcoming movies and pre-existing games, no matter how well it plays.
The Final Word
Marvel vs Capcom Infinite is infinitely fun to play, and infinitely painful to look at. The story is bland and the audio and visuals could use a lot of work, but the rehashed roster is the greatest offender in the game. It’s a shame, because Infinite is a tremendously fun fighting game, marred by subpar visuals and a greed-fueled roster of characters.
-MonsterVine Rating: 3 out of 5 – Average