torstai 18. syyskuuta 2014

REVIEW - Marvel vs. Capcom 2 | Xbox 360 | 2009

GENRE(S): Fighting
RELEASED: February 2000 (ARC)
AVAILABLE ON: ARC, DC, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360
DEVELOPER(S): Capcom, Backbone Emeryville (PS3, Xbox 360)

After releasing the Street Fighter-influenced pairing of X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes for the arcades to great success, Capcom got a crazy idea to expand the roster for future games in the series. The 1996 arcade game X-Men vs. Street Fighter - later ported to the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn - literally pitted the X-Men against some of the most popular characters from the Street Fighter franchise, more specifically Street Fighter Alpha, within the confines of one criminally insane plotline. The game got overwhelming reception, so 1997's Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter took the concept one step further by having characters from the whole Marvel roster against another ensemble cast from Street Fighter. Well, the next "logical" step was to expand from Street Fighter to other Capcom IP's; the result was one of the craziest tag-team based fighting games ever created, namely Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, in which you could finally do what you've always dreamed of: let the Hulk have it by using Mega Man. No? Well, that's a bummer, 'cause having Hulk and the Mega Man going at each other is even more inevitable in the 2000 sequel to the game, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes. This game, originally released in the arcades and on the ill-fated Sega Dreamcast (just one of the classic Dreamcast games to be ported to other consoles upon the system's discontinuation), was so popular in its time, that it ended up being re-released on the PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade in the summer of 2009. One drunken night, one fit of insanity, there I was: several euros and two healthy wrists short. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is one insane game, through and through.


Parker & Brock Industries.
French pirate turned mankind's protector, Ruby Heart, traces Earth's recent decline to an evil entity answering to the name "Abyss". Helpless against it by herself, she summons Earth's greatest heroes to a three-on-three tournament to see which team is capable enough of taking on this enigmatic foe - and lest we forget, this group of individuals strangely comprises of Jill Valentine, Ryu, Ken, Spider-Man, eight of the X-Men, Mega Man and an anthropomorphic cactus who seems to use his penis as his primary weapon, and about 40 other colourful personalities. Whew.

Where was I? Oh yeah, that one night. I was drinking with one of my best friends - at home - and we started talking about fighting games. At that time, I hadn't played a one-on-one fighting game in years, and I had no idea what was happening in the scene. I guess the new Mortal Kombat - which went on to blow my mind much later - had come out some months ago and sparked this walk down memory lane, when games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat (II) were king. This friend of mine was only a small child back when the games were released, he more or less grew up with Tekken - of course that franchise was also one of the focus points of the whole conversation. At some point, we started talking about Marvel vs. Capcom; neither of us had ever played it, a Marvel vs. Capcom 3 had been out for a while and we'd been hearing good things about it, but it was still Marvel vs. Capcom 2 which seemed the ultimate experience in this very, very strange crossover franchise as far as professional reviews made us believe. Powered by at least a six-pack each, we headed to Xbox LIVE Arcade to civilize ourselves with Marvel vs. Capcom 2. And what a culture shock it was.

The power of the punch.
The line-up is evenly divided between Marvel and Capcom characters, and either they really were crazy when they were making this game, or they just ran out of ideas as far as the Capcom roster goes. Or, they just wanted to make the game's Japanese origins more obvious, as if every single element in the game wasn't enough.. Mega Man's OK, his presence is even expected in a candid ensemble like this, but Roll? Hell, why not Dr. Light while we're at it? Well, not even Roll is from the worst end. In addition to Street Fighter, the main focus is on characters from Darkstalkers, the obnoxious vampire-themed fighting game franchise from the late 90's. The gaps are filled with characters from Mega Man games like I already said (including a few from the forgettable Mega Man Legends which got the Mega Man 64 port around the time of the game's original release), SonSon who's apparently related to the main character of the 1984 arcade game of the same name, Strider from his namesake series, Captain Commando - a,k.a. "Commando the 3rd" from his namesake game, and finally some Star Gladiator and Cyberbots buttmunches no-one remembers in the West. Oh yeah, and Jill Valentine from Resident Evil - with her "faithful companions", zombies and dogs from the Umbrella mansion. Interesting. And Ruby Heart, a female pirate captain who's supposed to be the main protagonist of the game, but is both a forgettable character by design and one crappy character to add to your team (of course, the default choice for every pick on the character select screen, so don't be too hasty). And finally, who could forget Amingo - a fat cactus with a sombrero and a huge, spiked penis, on a mission from the gods of the desert? Cooky.

Like most arcade ports, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has a few options for graphical filtering, but unlike most arcade ports, here it don't matter squat if you go with "classic" or "smooth". You can't tweak the game to look any better by current standards, only slightly less rough, so if you can't appreciate old-school 2D, too bad - it looks great as such. No complaints there.,. but man, does the whole wretched thing sound horrible or what? The soundtrack, comprised of some lounge jazz and weird funk that only appeals to the Japs and Jap-empaths (I know some) in a game like this, is just stunningly revolting. Quotes from the characters, both in-game and between matches sound dumb and repetitive, and the sound effects, including the combat grunts (especially when it comes to female anime characters) are perfectly intolerable. My advice is, mute your monitor and put on some good, violent music. This is gonna get rough, and the last thing you need is that whole array of useless garbage coming out of your speakers all at the same time.

This is the first and only game since Bayonetta which has sounded so God damn irritating I've almost thrown the controller out the window rather because of that than the game's difficulty. However, like Bayonetta, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 IS unforgiving... if you're not willing to make things easier for yourself by looking up some sort of guide from the net. An in-game tutorial is practically non-existent, as the "How to Play" section in the main menu is more of a digital instruction manual, filled with text and only a description of the moves (high punch, low punch etc.), as well as instructions on how to use the game's specialties to your full advantage, specialties with content you don't even know before an extensive drill with the game itself. By that time, you have no need for a tutorial - but your need for a strategy guide has not gone anywhere. You can practice in "Practice" (duh), but you'll only be able to go at it with a bunch of stoic rag dolls, or a friend; if you're both new to this game, no amount of practice can prepare you for the CPU's frustrating assist and combo wankery, which doesn't seem to work all that smooth when you're trying to do it. It tends to give you the feeling that you're doing something horribly wrong even hours into the game - but you're not. You're just not doing it right enough. Doing it right means murdering the shit out of your Xbox 360 controller - and it doesn't feel that good.

I'm a Resident Evil fan for life, so I guess I
can't help but smirk when Jill turns up to
heal her partner with a green herb.
I strongly represent the generation when modern analog control didn't exist, and one-on-one fighting games flourished. Of course the Tekken and Virtua Fighter franchises got the option for analog control pretty soon into their big breaks, but I just can't get into the zone with analog control, not even in those games. Regardless whether you went with PlayStation, the Nintendo 64 or the Sega Saturn back in the day, you soon discovered how digital control was getting slaughtered. The PlayStation had a digital pad severed into four separate buttons, making traditional ha-dou-ken combos quite painful; the Nintendo 64's controller was huge and the very rare games that merely supported the digital pad utilized it for something else than actually playing, and the Sega Saturn had a "disc" in a traditional pad's place - looking back, it might've been the best solution in the evolution of the digital pad at that point. So let's make the jump forward to the second-to-last console war between the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (even if the "war" part isn't really a proper term nowadays). If I was forced to choose, I'd rather play every fighting game on the PlayStation 3, hands down. As great as the Xbox 360 controller is in regular use, its digital pad is shit - there's no workaround for that pure fact. As long as you're using it in a game like Gears of War, where switching between weapons is assigned to the digital pad, it works. But in a game where it's the natural choice for movement... I'll just say I'm so glad I got the new Mortal Kombat for the PlayStation 3 although it was the Xbox 360 version that was practically shoved in my face at the time. You can always say "just get used to analog control, then", but in that case you obviously haven't witnessed the rage this game inflicts upon you. If you're a casual player playing on Easy, you might have a chance of beating the game - but not without doing some serious damage to whichever input you choose.

One more method to make the game a little easier for yourself is looking up a list of the best fighters in the game. Let's think about this; in fighting games of yore, you picked any character, you mastered that one character, you were pretty much unbeatable if you were using that character - Ken, Scorpion, Law for me. You picked any other character, some guy or gal that was actually way better than your favourite character, might've even had the best attributes in the whole game, you lost. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 works differently. First of all, you need to forget about sticking to favourites. Ryu, Ken, Wolverine, Spider-Man, you're probably into Mega Man just for nostalgic kicks, perhaps good characters, but not even near the game's best if you're willing to win this thing. Let's put it this way: first of all, every match-up is completely randomized, even between the inevitable failures during Arcade Mode. You bump into a Tier 6 or 7 match with Cable, Magneto and Cyclops as a team (like I said, randomized), you can just forfeit right there, you're not going to win. Not if you don't know the game inside out. Maybe on Easy, but even on Easy it's very unlikely at that point of the game - your hands and forearms are already killing you, and all of those three guys have hyper combos that are tough to survive even if you manage to block 'em completely, especially if all three perform a hyper together. There are about ten guys and gals listed by many sources as pretty much ultimate team-ups for Marvel vs. Capcom 2. I suggest you use those lists to your advantage if you want to beat one arcade round of the game. Don't worry about the final boss, though - compared to what you've been through with the 21 assholes you beat to get there, Abyss is a pushover.

Yeah, so in reality Magneto would beat both
guys with a snap of his fingers. And wipe his
ass with Rush afterwards.
There are no special endings for any of the characters in the slightest, just a comic vaguely showing you the aftermath of the big fight, which is even more illogical and awkward than the game itself, and the credits. Congratulations, you just beat one of the most frustrating games of the 21st century. Even bigger congratulations are in order if you did it to the game's own soundtrack, without failing once and getting just one Achievement from it. There are 12 Achievements, four for each main game mode - single player, multiplayer, online multiplayer. The last four are pretty much impossible to get, since due to the expiration of Marvel's contracts with both Capcom and Activision, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has been taken down from the LIVE servers; that can't bode well for the game's multiplayer server. Don't be mad - the single player Achievements are impossible enough; you can probably simply remove the game from your Gamerscore list every time you're done with it.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is a fun idea, but Capcom took it a bit too far. I'm just not into its overtly Japanese antics which place a huge exclamation point on the game's already tough learning curve and frustratingly high difficulty. In certain moods, it can be an addictive bashfest, especially if you're not taking the thought of beating it too seriously, but if I had a choice between two spiked logs up my ass, I'd take the one branded "Sony". I'm guessing I got the game at a time my old PS3 hard drive was out of capacity, or my experience with fighting games was not fresh enough to have me realize the Xbox controller's inferiority in this genre - and this genre alone. From where I stand, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is a criminally overrated game. I might want to try the third game some day. But not now.

+ Looks really good
+ A unique and innovative game in the genre, back in its arcade days
+ A huge cast of characters...

- ...The Capcom side of which is unfortunately littered with "Big in Japan"; the Japanese origins of the game are generally a bit too obvious, which is distracting when having the other half of the roster comprising of American comic book characters
- Sounds intolerable, through and through; sound might very well be the game's most frustrating element
- Unforgiving learning curve and difficulty level even for genre veterans
- The Xbox controller isn't fit for such a hectic 2D one-on-one (excuse me, three-on-three)
- There are a few choice team-ups that are virtually impossible to beat without the extensive use of really cheap tactics that spoil the fun

< 6.8 >

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