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Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite Review

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite has had one of the rockiest pre-release zeitgeists I’ve seen in quite some time. From the beginning, the game had a questionable artstyle and not a lot of characters to go around, and while that notion hasn’t been radically changed in the final build, what we have is a very fun, interesting evolution of the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise.

Let’s deal with Dhalsim’s elephant in the room. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite’s roster is a huge step back from the likes of its 55+ character predecessors. Characters like Jedah and Captain Marvel are certainly great additions, but these are the exceptions and not the rules. The Marvel side of the roster is entirely filled with Marvel Cinematic Universe stars, with no mutants or Latverians in sight. Capcom’s roster, conversely, feels like they pulled punches, with a lot of the roster being carried over from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. It also feels a little bit peculiar that some of the cooler characters like the Monster Hunter and Black Panther are relegated to DLC, as they would have sharpened up the roster a great deal.

Aesthetically, this game is all over the map. A lot of characters, especially the traditional, human-faced ones, have oddities going on with their models. Dante’s eyebrows are weird, Haggar’s arms are proportioned humorously. The less “normal” you get, however, the better a character tends to look. Hulk, Jedah, X, Zero – these characters benefit way more from the art direction this game took. In motion, the game is a lot more pleasant to look at, with the various effects granted by the infinity stones making the game feel as chaotic as its older siblings.

There’s a full-fledged story mode in this outing, which in ways can feel like a response to Street Fighter V’s story mode debacle. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite’s story is nothing to write home about. A lot of what makes it entertaining is the sheer absurdity of many scenes, coupled with some cool interactions. Chris Redfield antagonistically palling around with Frank West is littered with funny moments, as are other pairings throughout the game. Strider and Gamora strangely fit pretty well.

The overarching story deals with Marvel big-bad Ultron combining his powers with Buzz Lightyear cosplayer and X-hating Sigma. Dubbed “Ultron-Sigma”, they use the power of the Space and Reality Stones to merge the worlds of Marvel and Capcom. Sometimes you’ll end up with really awesome set pieces – Wakanda and the world of Monster Hunter go really well together, for instance. The story mode overall reminds me of Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s Subspace Emissary mode, which was more about seeing characters interact and fight together, as opposed to telling a coherent story.

Let’s get to the real meat of the game, and honestly its saving grace. Saying that a fighting game simply “plays well” is like saying that the “jumping is solid” in a Mario game or that something is “visceral”. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, more so than its predecessors, opens itself up for experimentation due to the tag system and the infinity stones.

The assists of Marvel vs. Capcom’s past are no more. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite opts for a tag system similarly found in the likes of Street Fighter X Tekken but fleshed out with Marvel sensibilities. You can call in your teammate at any point in the fight where you have control, which naturally lends itself to creativity and combos in a way that no other versus game really has. It feels like an evolution of what Street Fighter X Tekken tried to push, but without all the petty drama around the gem system (which is ironic considering how important infinity stones are).

Speaking of Infinity Stones, they are by far the biggest shake-up the game has to offer. Each stone has an ability you can call on at any time. The Space Stone allows you to pull opponents in, the Soul Stone leeches the opponent’s life. Each stone also has a super move dubbed “Infinity Storm”, which can alter the course of the entire match. The aforementioned Soul Stone can resurrect your teammate and allow you to control both of them at the same time! Each stone has a radical effect due to the Infinity Storm, and in some ways act as a “third character”.

The game ultimately features a very solid combination of mechanics between the stones and the tag system, which really saves the game from being that much of a disappointment. Fighting games live and die by their gameplay, so it’s looking like Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite will be here to stay.

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