Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite review: Series takes a solid blow
When Xavier's X-Men are X'ed out, we get cross.
Let's Yoga Flame the elephant in the room right away. If you're a long-time fan, the toughest fight you're going to face in Infinite will be the struggle to accept its art style. We were all spoilt rotten by the sprite-tacular Marvel vs Capcom and its sequel, and then the trifecta came along with a pleasing, 3D-comic aesthetic. In comparison, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite looks flatter than a face supplexed by Mike Haggar.
You're no longer flicking through a technicolour comic book exploded into life. Somehow, for a game featuring hadokens, super-freaks and normies who can inexplicably jump 20 ft into the air, 'gritty realism' was the visual mandate given. Infinite certainly isn't in the realm of eyesore, but you should definitely prepare yourself for a more muted colour palette and an overall downgrade in wow-factor.
Also, as far as the roster is concerned, marketing could have called this Marvel vs Capcom: Finite. Firstly, because the roster is down from 60-odd to 30, and then there's the infuriating omission of any selectable X-Men characters to consider. For many fans, getting access to Charles Xavier's greatest valedictorians is a given, ever since Ryu and Cyclops did that epic man-shake on the title screen of the first game.
But no, on the Marvel side of things you're getting the overwhelmingly old guard that is Captain America, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Hulk, Iron Man, Nova, Rocket Raccoon, Spider-Man, Thanos, Thor, Ghost Rider, Ultron, Dormammu, and Gamora. Meanwhile, the Cappers roster is made up of Arthur, Chris Redfield, Dante, Firebrand, Frank West, Jedah, Mega Man X, Mike Haggar, Morrigan, Nathan Spencer, Nemesis, Strider, Zero, Ryu and Chun-Li. Note: the latter has had her mug fixed from that awful public beta. She no longer looks like a praying mantis with a meth addiction.
In terms of mechanics, we're shifting back to a 2 v 2 fighting structure where you can insta-tag out practically anywhere, anytime (unless you're currently being used as somebody's punching bag). You're also using a six-button scheme with the face buttons handling basic attacks and the two shoulder buttons are dedicated to both tagging and the new Infinity Stones mechanic – more on that game-changer in a second. Interestingly, Capcom has made this outing extremely accessible to newbies by handing players an air juggle combo on a platter as you need only mash light punch a few times to bust one out. From there you can brutalise your victim – and test the game's light seizure warnings – by smashing out a Hyper Combo with heavy punch + heavy kick. This all sounds like a dumbing down; however, the wheat will still be sorted from the chaff in any rookie v veteran match up. There's so much more nuance to learn. Especially when high-end players use Infinity Stones in tandem with well-practiced, lengthy combo chains. There are six stones on offer and each can be used either as a basic and quick 'Infinity Surge' move that's great for starting combos, or a full-activation 'Infinity Storm' that saps half of a dedicated meter. Needless to say, these stones deliver radically different strategies and can turn the tables against an unwary opponent. For example, the Power stone's Surge turns the stage into a bouncy castle for your opponent, and its Storm variant amplifies your damage output. Reality's Surge unleashes a slow-moving projectile that homes in on your enemy, and its Storm adds elemental effects to your basic attacks. The simple application of Mind enhances your ability to grab and stun, while its superior form fuels your super gauge like crazy. Close-quarters fighters will love how Space drags foes toward them, or you can simply cage fools on the spot. Self-preservation types can use Soul to leech HP back, or it can drop in a shadow version of your tag team partner. Last but not least, Time let's you dash like a demon through fireballs, plus its enhanced version turns every basic move you have – even coughs and sneezes – into sweet-looking combo links.
Using these in online match ups makes for constantly surprising battles that are never a sure thing until that KO is announced. The netcode is currently quite solid, too, and I've not experienced any OP character partnerships, nor have I been spammed with one particular Stone power over another. Only time will tell if that meta will change after a million odd players try to sniff out an abusable tactic that Capcom's testers may have missed. Elsewhere, the story mode on offer is a short but palatable three hours worth of inter-dimensional nonsense. Like all fighting games, you'll click into it for the sake of trophies, raise an eyebrow at how seriously each character takes this madness, and then you'll not feel a need to go back. There's a mission mode, too, but it's pretty uninspired. Ideally, anybody looking to buy in should strap their headband on for human v human fights only. If that's not your bag, forfeit now.
We reviewed Marvel vs.CaPCom: Infinite on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the publisher.
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