In video game making, design is important, not only to make said game as visually impressive as possible, but to make it balanced. This applies especially in fighting games, making one guy smaller than the rest means for some cheap wins and broken controllers. The Marvel Vs. Capcom crossover games have always managed to get it right. Smart design made characters small and large feel nicely balanced. Playing as Mega Man never felt inferior to playing as the Incredible Hulk, even when it made the transition to 2.5D in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, the character design was on point. So what the hell happened in Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite?
Playing Infinite, I got the impression a little bit too much thought went into its character design, and this time, that’s not a good thing. How could they mess it up so bad? The balance is right, but visually the game looks downright pants. Captain America has the biggest shoulders I’ve ever seen, which make him look disproportionate, Jedah and Morrigan, both known from the Darkstalkers games, look as though they come from different universes altogether, and Hulk has the scariest eyes out of any game or movie he’s been in. Some characters keep to the anime style of their parent IP, such as Mega Man (or X as he’s known here) and Zero, they look great, but there are photorealistic character models too, such as a weird looking Frank West and the generic Chris Redfield. Infinite is a mess graphically in its character design, which is a shame as the stages look fantastic. XGard and A.I.M.Brella Corporation HQ are fantastic arenas set in two merged realms. Oh, and where the hell are Wolverine and Deadpool? Inexcusable.
Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite has a story mode, but it’s nothing short of a two hour cringe-worthy slog. Kudos to you if you’re not turned off in the first five minutes. Emotionless and robotic one-liners fill the dialogue with each of the characters seemingly knowing each other without explaining how. There are more plot holes in this thing than a multipack of Polos. There’s too much “let’s get ‘em” and “you’re gonna pay” with no real stick-out moments and a final encounter that is nothing short of an anti-climax. The story also includes characters you can’t even play as, such as Black Panther and a character from the Monster Hunter series with a huge, cool looking sword, it was disheartening. Okay, it’s been confirmed that they will be DLC characters, but waving a carrot in front of our noses is just plain cruel. The plot itself circulates the six Infinity Stones, two of which are in the hands of Ultron Sigma, a hybrid of Marvel’s Ultron and Sigma from Mega Man X. The mish-mash dream team of heroes decide to unlock Thanos from his shackles to help them locate the other three stones to help topple Ultron Sigma and get the two stones he possesses. The plot would be great if it wasn’t inundated with wooden performances and teeth grinding dialogue made even worse by Arthur and Rocket Racoon trying way too hard to be funny but failing.
Outside of the story mode, it’s standard fighting game fare. Arcade mode pits you against a string of opponents with a final boss bash, online modes which work really great and one of the deepest tutorials I’ve ever seen in a fighting game, with each character having their own tutorials.
Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite is a fantastic fighter. Fast and fluid and, for the first time, accessible to beginners. This is down to its auto-combos and auto-hyper combos which are activated by simply tapping the light punch button repeatedly and pressing the heavy punch and kick buttons together. These can be switched off though, it’s easy to accidentally activate them, and this exploits Infinite’s extremely deep combat system that lies within. Light and heavy punches and kicks can be strung together to create impressively flashy combos. New to Infinite is the active switch ability which switches to your second character immediately whether you’re in the middle of a special move, combo string or hyper combo, allowing you to continue the string with that character. Another new significant feature to Infinite is the inclusion of the Infinity Stones.
Apart from being at the front and centre of the story mode, each of the five Infinity Stones can be used as an extra ability. Each stone represents a different property: Soul, Time, Space, Mind, Reality and Power with appropriate abilities used by the press of a single button. The Time Stone teleports you forward or back, the Power Stone launches a red bolt that is slow moving but hurts and the Soul Stone knocks your opponent dizzy. Using these abilities fills up a dedicated gauge when, once 50% filled, allows you to use the Infinity Surge ability which, again, has different effects corresponding to whatever stone is selected. Incredibly, these make the screen turn to the colour of the stone while you are stronger (if using the Power Stone) or you’ve trapped your opponent using the Space Stone.
Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite feels fluid and lightning fast, so fast the screen can be full of particles and beams. It’s just a shame the characters look disjointed, as well as the absence of greats such as Wolverine, Storm, Deadpool and Iron Fist. There is a nice amount of content to play through, but the story is a chore.
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Release Date: 19th September 2017