CCI: Hands On with "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3"

Capcom came out to Comic-Con International in San Diego in full force this week, not only bringing some of their upcoming games ("Asura's Wrath" and "Street Fighter X Tekken" among them) but also making some announcements at their panel to keep the comic book and fighting communities salivating.

"Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3" brings back the 38 characters that rose a ruckus in the first game (released earlier this year), along with 12 additional characters, some tweaks that make the fighting action a little more justified and a new Spectator mode. The refined package will be available in November for a budget price of $39.99. Comic Book Resources stopped by Capcom's booth, which was constantly packed with fighting tournaments and a fan-dedicated shop, to check it out.

Out of the 12 new characters, only four were revealed thus far. On the Capcom side, Firebrand -- a fire-breathing demon from the "Ghosts 'n Goblins" series -- and Strider Hiryu, a favorite from "Marvel vs. Capcom 2," were showcased. Firebrand is a fast-moving monster who uses fireball attacks and swooping wing moves to literally get the jump on his enemies, while Strider incorporates large sword swipes, along with assistance from robotic drones and panthers, to thrash his opponents. Those of you familiar with his style from the previous game will get used to him here within a match or two.

As for the Marvel side, two interesting additions will keep fans happy. Johnny Blaze, aka Ghost Rider, makes his fighting-game debut in "Ultimate," bringing with him all the fury and fire of hell. He arrives in traditional demonic Fonzie fashion, wearing a leather jacket and brandishing his trademark flaming chain. This chain proves useful for ground and air attacks, giving him a devastating range in which to deliver damage to his enemies. He also has some skillful close-up attacks should someone make the mistake of actually getting near him.

But perhaps what's most impressive are GR's super moves. Build up enough energy (level 1 or above) and he'll hop onto his motorcycle and run his opponent over, starting on the ground and then leaping into the air. Time it right and you'll get at least 12 hits -- a good chunk of the opponent's energy -- out of it. Go all the way to level 3, and he unleashes his true hellish Penance Stare power on his foe, yelling at them, "Look into my eyes!" The screen then shifts into a first-person perspective, and in a huge explosive flash of light, your opponent is pretty much toast. It's awesome stuff.

The other new Marvel addition is Hawkeye, who joins the game with bow in hand. He's a very nimble character, one who isn't afraid to get in there and dish out the same kind of punishment as his fellow Avengers, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk. He has some very impressive kick moves, but obviously he's best when shooting arrows -- and he does this in a number of ways. He can shoot straightforward shots, or he can launch arrows into the air to come down a second or two later, dishing out damage from above. As for his super attack, we only saw one, but it's a slick-looking sniper shot, where he charges his bow and lets his opponent have it with a strong golden blast.

The game controls are about the same when it comes to the in-game combat. You've got your three punch and kick buttons, which you can coordinate together to perform combos, both on the ground and in the air. There are some tweaks, as mentioned above, that make the fighting a little more balanced this time around. Some fans complained about how some characters were a little too powerful for their own good, namely Dark Phoenix. While CBR News didn't test her out specifically, Capcom assured that the final game would satisfy fighting fans.

As for the Spectator Mode, it's a cool mode where you can watch fights happen with other players. There are tournaments all over the world where fans can watch in amazement as true fighting masters (such as Justin Wong) devastate anyone that dares to face them. (A lot of Comic-Con tournaments over the weekend were like that.) This not only lets you observe what's happening, but perhaps learn a thing or two from it. Watching other people fight, we actually learned a few techniques with Magneto that we wouldn't mind trying out once post-Comic-Con.

Capcom couldn't officially speak about the other eight characters that will be included in "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3," but a rumored leaked list hit the Internet a few days ago. This list includes Vergil ("Devil May Cry"), Frank West ("Dead Rising"), Nemesis ("Resident Evil") and Phoenix Wright (the Ace Attorney himself!) from Capcom; and Dr. Strange, Nova, Iron Fist and Rocket Raccoon from Marvel's side. Capcom will unveil who's officially on the roster over the next few months, so we'll see what we'll see. Still, if this list is official, it'll be interesting to see how Dr. Strange fares against Phoenix Wright. Can't wait to see how the "Objection!" attacks look. Or "Take that!" for that matter.

Kudos to Capcom for not only letting us check out the game, but staying faithful to both its fighting and comic book fans. While "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3" may feel like an unnecessary add-on, there's actually enough substance here to justify its release. Plus the budget price isn't bad at all, especially considering what you're getting. Stock up on Band-Aids and get ready to brawl when the "Ultimate" fight comes your way this November, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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