One of the most welcome announcements at Capcom's recent press event was the news that the publisher will release Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game was originally released in arcades in 2000 and was quickly followed by a release on the Sega Dreamcast console. The game later made its way to the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox in 2002 and 2003, respectively, but purists have always favored the Dreamcast version, given that it was based on hardware that was similar to the NAOMI system--the same system that the original arcade version was released on. Thankfully, the Dreamcast/Naomi code is what is being used for the upcoming PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, which will appear as downloadable games this summer. Capcom had a playable version of the game running on the PlayStation 3 at the event, and we promptly tore right into it.
If you're unfamiliar with MVC2, here's a quick primer: The game features the largest roster of fighters assembled in a Capcom game, a staggering 56 in total, divided between Marvel comic characters and characters from various Capcom games. The game was the last in Capcom's "Versus" series, which pitted the publisher's various game characters against Marvel characters, such as the X-Men. And though MVC2 used 2D sprites for its characters, the game was also the only Capcom fighter to feature fully 3D backgrounds and effects, courtesy of NAOMI. From a gameplay standpoint, the game also featured some heavy tweaks to the Versus series' fighting system. It also switched format to a three-on-three tag-team system and pared down the standard six-button layout to four attack buttons, with the remaining two buttons being used to call in your teammates for tag-in "assist" attacks.
The PS3 version seems faithful to the Dreamcast version and offers the same array of modes, with the welcome addition of online multiplayer. Playing the game in single-player will let you tackle the Arcade mode, hone your skills in the Training mode, and test your fighting prowess in the Score Attack mode. The game's multiplayer options include offline one-on-one local matches, plus two online match types, scoreboard and friendly, which are ranked and unranked matches, respectively.
The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game will also have some other new options. In terms of visual presentation, you'll find options to switch your characters' graphics to one of three settings: classic, crisp, and smooth. Classic keeps it good and real, offering the original sprites in all of their chunky, aliased glory. Crisp cleans the sprites up a little but still has an old-school, clunky quality. Finally, smooth enhances the aged sprites to something a little less chunky on an HD display. A widescreen gameplay option lets you toggle between automatic, which sets the display based on your system settings, or a manual setting for 4:3 and 16:9 displays. Finally, an input-delay option lets you tweak the sensitivity of how quickly the game will read your button presses, with a higher setting ideal for higher-ping, lower-speed conditions.
In terms of controls, the game seems to play fine on the PS3 controller, although it will also support Mad Catz's fan-favorite Street Fighter IV pads and arcade sticks. The game will also offer a fully customizable control setup and seems to handle just like you'd want it to. The work-in-progress version of the game that we played ran pretty smoothly, so we don't expect it to have any performance issues when it's finally released.
Otherwise, the game looks sharp and seems faithful to the Dreamcast version. The 3D backgrounds look smooth, and the sprites are as, let's say, "varied" as we remember them to be. The characters pulled from the previous Versus games benefit from a refreshed art style, whereas the older sprites, most notably Morrigan (who first appeared in 1994's Darkstalkers), are considerably chunkier. But the various superattacks and 3D effects are still as flashy and appealing as ever.
It should go without saying that fighting fans who loved the wild and high-flying action of the Versus series should look forward to this one. The game seems to stand the test of time quite nicely, even if the character sprites haven't gotten a full-on makeover. Ultimately, MVC2 still seems like a blast to play, and we're happy to see it on the PS3 and 360. Anyone looking to brawl should keep an eye out for a demo this week on the PlayStation Network, with a 360 demo to follow in the weeks to come. Marvel Versus Capcom 2 should be out this summer in the PS3 and Xbox 360 online stores.