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Last year, the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade dished out some of the best downloadable titles you could find on the virtual market: Braid, Castle Crashers, and Geometry Wars 2. Each of these titles was a smaller and cheaper game that delivered just as much fun, if not more, than some of the retail titles sitting on the shelves at the time. Well, Microsoft is at it again and their new line up for this year’s summer of arcade is looking to drain those Microsoft points from your account faster than you can say “hadouken!”

Just recently, Microsoft started off their new summer line up with a bang, ‘Splosion Man, and now they are bringing one of the most celebrated fighting games of all time into your living room for a mere 1200 Microsoft points ($15). That’s right, Marvel Vs Capcom 2 (MvsC2) has finally hit our living rooms once again, so put up your Dreamcast, trash that boomerang controller, and get ready for fast paced fighting mayhem!

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For any of you living in a cave the last nine years, watch your feet, because I’m about to drop some knowledge. Back in 2000, MvsC2 was released in the arcades and was later ported to the Dreamcast, PS2, and the Xbox. Using a 3 on 3 tag system, players can choose from 56 different Marvel and Capcom characters ranging from Resident Evil’s Jill Valentine to Marvel’s Thanos. Instead of using the standard six button attack set like most Capcom fighting games, players have two kicks and two punches: light (which can combo into a medium), and heavy. They can also call in their partners for assists (a critical element for advanced players) which has their teammate jump in and execute an attack, instead of tagging them in completely.

The combat fundamentals revolve largely around players using their teammates, by tagging them in or using the aforementioned assist button, to execute prolonged combos, chain together aerial raves (airborne combos), and super moves. Unlike most 2-D fighting games, MvsC2 is a fast paced fighting game that feels like you are playing a speed game of chess. However, even though the combat looks like X-Men: Children of the Atom on a combination of crack and ecstasy, it still retains an absurd amount of depth thanks to the deep character roster and the its prolific affinity for combos.

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Now that some of you are caught up to speed, and those that already know are bored, lets get to the good stuff. Backbone Entertainment has done a great job at porting the title onto the downloadable market. It doesn’t have the awesome graphical upgrade that Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (HD Remix) received, but the games already crisp sprites and odd backgrounds are presented in widescreen and are viewed in 1080p HD. Players can also select from three different sprite models that smooth them out or use the original models from the port.

Also, in a brilliant move, Backbone made sure to port the Dreamcast version of the game; which is considered the best of the three console versions, and is as close to an arcade perfect port as we will ever get. The game’s strange, yet soothing, jazzy background music has also made triumphant return, and thankfully, the infamous “take you for a ride” song has gotten a remix and is only slightly less annoying.

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Now, everyone has been waiting with bated breath to see if the online support is going to hold up. Anyone that plays fighting games knows that just a slight lag is all that’s required to throw off a game winning combo or block. So far, the game has performed flawlessly and it almost feels like you are playing a local match. The lobby system that was implemented into HD Remix has returned and you can spectate every match before you are thrown in the ring with the winner.

I would highly recommend anyone playing for their first time online to jump into the player matches, instead of the ranked matches, because I must warn you: there is absolutely nothing like getting killed in the first ten seconds by Magneto or Storm. If you don’t plan on using the online mode at all, single players can play through the arcade mode or try their hand at the score attack mode. As strange as this sounds, I was actually disappointed at having all of the characters unlocked from the get go. This choice makes it obvious that the release of the game was mostly fan service, however, newer players won’t get the joy of getting to unlock all the characters themselves. If they don’t plan on playing the game online their isn’t much incentive to continue to play the game.

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Of course, as much praise as the game receives, it’s nowhere near perfect. As a fighting game, its chaotic combat suffers from a lack of precision and its difficult to just pick up and play. And, the large character roster still only has a few characters that experienced players will always pick. Yeah, I’m looking at you Sentinel. However, this doesn’t keep the game from being entertaining or viable for competitive and new players. It’s a fighting game that rewards players for sticking to its nauseating speed by letting them play as their favorite heroes with highly stylized and entertaining over the top combat, and anyone willing to put in the time can still beat those Sentinel scrubs.

Even though it didn’t receive the re balance treatment that Super Street Fighter II Turbo did there is still a little something for everyone. Whether that’s pitting your favorite heroes and villains against each other in the single player mode or duking it out on the near perfect online support; Marvel Vs Capcom 2 is a loyal port of the original game and an excellence service to new and old fans of the game.

Reviewer’s note: The Xbox Live Arcade version was tested for this review

Rating Category
8.5 Presentation
The charming sprites and fantastically over the top special moves look great in the widescreen and HD format.
How does our scoring system work?
8.5 Gameplay
It may lack the precision of other highly competitive fighters, but it makes up for that with enthralling fast paced combat.
6.0 Sound
Hadouken and Berserker Barrage's ring clear, but the original music and announcer that plagued the console versions is still present and annoying.
7.0 Longevity
There is little to no lag online, but with all of the characters unlocked and the achievements tied to online play, players that don't plan on playing online won't have much to do.
8.0 Overall
Marvel Vs Capcom 2 may not be on the cutting edge of console fighters at this time, but it's stylized combat and charm delivers something for everyone.

  1. Great review Chase. I was pretty shocked when I found out that all the characters are unlocked from the get go. I’m happy to hear that I can immediately go online and play with any character I want, but I don’t really have any motivation at all to play the single player without a real goal to reach for. Oh well. I’m still gonna be picking this up for the PS3.

  2. I’m sad they didn’t bother fixing character balance: oh well. I’ll be picking this up anway!

    “I’m gonna take you for a ride!”

  3. Great review. It’s a shame the didn’t change the music. Who ever though a repetitive selection song for a fighting game was a good idea should be fired.

  4. It sucks that they did nothing for the character balance, but I think that there’s not much they could have done. Balancing 56 characters is virtually impossible; it’s a miracle that there’s even 13-16 viable characters.

  5. It’s too hard. I don’t want to study to play a game.

  6. avatar Rob Schonau

    Already got it on PS2 and Xbox. Downloaded it on 360. Still the greatest fighting game ever!

  7. avatar shoryucannon PA

    i used to destroy comp. on cvs2 on xbox. im ready 2 rack wins of these online noobs im a legendary SS player the first to parry online!!!

  8. avatar shoryucannon PA

    I been playin on my pal superduperdog2 acnt and i love to play live against these worldwide noob victims. now u have the whole fighting game arena online. next need 2 be “VAMPIRE CHRONICLES”,MORTAL COMBAT TRILLOGY, and “HYPER STREET FIGHTER ALHPA” ONLINE oh yeah cant forget “RIVAL SCHOOLS” iv’e played alot of azn’s (online abreviation no dis intended) in this game when it hit 40thPA ( the best arcade in philly). the xbl connection seems better especially with cable or FiOs (fiber optic phone isp), the lag seldom appear. BUT I HAVE NOTICE….. THE RANKING/GRADING SYSTEM is not efficient as it was in CVS2 or SFAC. why do they water down whatevers perfect?

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