We had the chance to spend some quality time with the PSP version of Marvel Nemesis today, the upcoming fighter from EA. The game features a roster of familiar faces from Marvel, as well as original characters developed in conjunction with EA and currently featured in a limited series of comics. The new version of the game we saw featured new playable characters and a noticeable layer of polish.
Although Marvel Nemesis shares many things in common with its console cousin of the same name, the portable fighter is being packed with a good amount of unique content to ensure it has some meat to it. The front-end menus in the game feature artwork from Terry Dodson, a veteran comic artist whose work for Marvel and DC has made him a fan favorite. The PSP game will also feature cards that you'll get as rewards as you progress through the campaign mode. The mode will send you on an adventure that will pit you against the game's cast of characters. As you finish battles, you'll earn a medal (gold, silver, or bronze), whose ranking will determine the level of prizes available to you. Once that's set, you can pick from one of five cards. The catch is that after you choose your card, you'll see the ones you didn't pick, which can be slightly hurtful if you've missed out on something cool.
The cards will offer unique bonuses to your fighter when equipped, and you can have up to four on one fighter at a given time. The cards will feature bonuses in one of five categories, and they vary in rarity. Health cards will offer bonuses that affect your fighter's maximum health in the game. Defense will increase how well they defend themselves, as well as decrease the damage taken in a fight. Strength affects the damage they'll deal in battle. Finally, character cards can only be equipped on specific characters, but they offer multiple bonuses. Though you can only equip four cards per character, if you equip certain combinations, you'll get what amounts to another stat bonus of some kind.
As far as the roster for the game goes, it will feature nearly everyone seen in the console game, sans two fighters. Before comic fans become disillusioned at losing characters, they should bear in mind that the PSP will actually feature two unique characters that can't be found in the console game. While EA reps wouldn't let us reveal both of the characters, they did let us try out one: Captain America (who comes to the party packing his shield and a devastating array of moves). As for the second character, though we're sworn to secrecy, we'll just say that comic fans will be pleased at his (or her) inclusion.
As far as the gameplay goes, Nemesis has been tweaked some since our last look, based in large part on user feedback. A customizable control-scheme function has been added to let players tweak the button layout to their liking. The camera has seen some work done to it to help stay with the action better.
So does the work pay off? We're withholding final judgment until we play more, but what we played felt better than it has previously. We tried a few characters--Storm, Elektra, The Thing, and Captain America--and were pleased that no one handled exactly the same. The visuals continue to improve, and they keep the game in the same neighborhood as its console cousin. From a performance standpoint, the frame rate was solid, despite the flashy visuals and mass destruction.
Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects is currently slated to ship this fall for the PSP. Look for more on the game in the coming months.