Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite was released to PS4, Xbox One, and PCs this month, and the reactions have begun to pour in. This is the latest game in a series of Marvel vs. Capcom titles, but felt especially significant following Marvel’s public statement that it would attempt to make better console games. But does Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite deliver? So far, the response seems to be… somewhat.
Let’s start with the positives. For one thing, the game is being praised a great deal for, quite simply, how it plays. Look through some of the positive comments posted from aggregated reviews at Metacritic and you’ll find statements calling it one of the best iterations of the series’ gameplay, and saying that it’s functional as a hell of a fighter. It may sound too easy to say, but the most important thing about any video game is how fun it is to play in a very basic sense, and we can almost forget that these days. In this sense, Marvel vs. Capcom is being received positively. It plays well, even if there are some complaining about its one-button combos and its appeal to “button masher” gamers.
Another positive, particularly for Marvel fans, is the collection of characters. While Marvel transitions to better console games, some other opportunities to enjoy its cast of characters have grown dull or else disappeared altogether. As of early 2017, Playtech has discontinued its numerous Marvel games in the slot and jackpot categories. That means slots based on the Avengers, X-Men, and individual characters all pretty much went away overnight. Meanwhile, other games featuring large groups of Marvel characters – such as Marvel Heroes online, or a few mobile titles – have grown somewhat stale over time, seeming more like advertisement opportunities than anything else. The chance to play with a big group of heroes in a modern game is going to be refreshing for a lot of frustrated Marvel gaming fans.
There are some negatives also, however. One actually pertains to the same cast of characters I just noted as a positive. While there’s a pretty good variety in the game, some might feel that there were a few too many reaches for fringe or obscure characters, rather than popular icons of Marvel and Capcom. That’s not to say such icons aren’t present; you can still enjoy a fight between Ryu and Thor, or something of the like. But particularly on the Capcom side, there are a lot of characters that will only be recognizable (and by extension, particularly enjoyable) to dedicated Capcom loyalists.
Another, bigger problem, is that a lot of people just don’t think the game looks very good. One review went as far as to call Infinite the franchise’s ugly duckling, saying “it’s a shame about how it looks.” That might seem counterintuitive if you’ve seen some of the gameplay trailers or screenshots, because the graphics are undeniably beautiful. The problem is that they’re not true to the series’ past. There’s nothing arcade-like about the aesthetic, but rather an attempt at cinematic sharpness that rings a little bit hollow. In this sense it’s quite a bit like the mobile title Marvel: Contest Of Champions blown up to console size.
For the most part, how you feel about this game will probably just come down to what you value in a console fighter. If you’re concerned with an authentic arcade look, or you’re worried about which characters you’ll recognize and enjoy, you might want to think twice about it. But if you’re just happy to see Marvel’s heroes gathered in one place, or you’re mostly interested in fun gameplay, it could be a nice addition to your collection.