Capcom may have announced Marvel vs. Capcom 2 only two short weeks ago, but already a fully playable build of the game has landed on our desks. Despite being clearly labelled as a "preview build," the game seems to be feature-complete, and we're happy to report that we didn't notice a single bit of slowdown in what we played. Given the late-June release, which was recently confirmed in a Marvel financial report, the game is looking in good shape at this stage. We thought that we'd mark the occasion with an in-depth play test while also trying to answer some of the questions that you guys posted on the site.
First off, this is a top-notch conversion of the Dreamcast classic. That may be something that we've come to expect from Capcom rereleases and updates, but it's still no less impressive to see one of the company's flashiest 2D fighters re-created with such attention to detail. It also has enough to make it worth reinvesting for fans, considering the online multiplayer, smoother sprites, and new widescreen support, in addition to having all 56 characters unlocked from the beginning.
We're also impressed with how well the game plays on the standard PlayStation 3 pad. It helps that MVC2 uses a four-button setup for punches and kicks, rather than six, which makes it much easier to pull off combos and special moves. One of the hallmarks of the series is the multicharacter tag-team setup, this time using three characters, and we found it very easy to pull in these extra characters using the standard shoulder-button configuration. We weren't sent the Xbox 360 version--presumably the D pad won't be quite as good as Sony's--but we're impressed with how the setup works, and those who don't own sticks won't be quite as handicapped as they were in Street Fighter IV.
The conversion to the PS3 has also seen the development team at Foundation 9 clearly try to pander to hardcore and casual audiences alike. You can choose from three different sets of character graphics; crisp new sprites are set as default, but the classic sprites from the original are available along with smoothed-out hybrids. The game does this by using 3X bilinear filtering for the crisp sprites and 2X bilinear filtering for the smooth ones, with a number of tweaks used to perfect the look of each. The results are great, adding a new visual sheen for people used to HD graphics and original sprites for those who can still remember every move from the Dreamcast. The final tweak has been to adapt the game for widescreen displays, which offers you a greater view of the background, but purists can enable a 4:3 display mode to match the arcade original.
One area that we didn't get to test thanks to the debug hardware was the online mode, although the options were all there in our build. The game will offer friendly and ranked matches, the latter of which are called scoreboard matches. Scoreboard matches will count toward your worldwide ranking, which you can check from the main screen itself. Then there's also a Training mode in which you can try out specific moves and combos, and a Points mode, wherein you play through the arcade game to earn points. It's worth noting that all 56 characters are available from the get-go, so there's not much point playing through the Arcade mode alone, and unlike the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 versions of the game, we couldn't see the shop feature to buy new costumes.
We're really impressed with this conversion of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and though people might have hoped for another HD remix from Capcom, they can be assured that this is a Dreamcast-perfect port. Capcom has stated that the game will cost $15 on the PSN in the States and 1,200 Microsoft points on Xbox Live Arcade, and there's a demo out on the PlayStation 3 right now. We'll have more in the run-up to release, but in the meantime check out the game in action by watching the exclusive video above.