Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 – Heroes & Heralds

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Electronic Theatre ImageWith the rapid adoption rate of digital distribution by console gamers, the still foetal technology is already being used for many different purposes. One opportunity which is growing in popularity is that of delivering basic features after launch: yesteryear’s technology limited developers to the point where if a gameplay mode, or aspect thereof, should not be ready in time for launch it was simply cut from the final product. Today however, developers have the resources available to fix the problem, and update the videogame post release.

Capcom’s Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 recently received a brand new gameplay mode in the fashion discussed above, the Heroes & Heralds mode. Promised prior to launch – and set to be included as standard on the forthcoming PlayStation Vita release – Capcom have kept theirElectronic Theatre Image word and delivered a fully featured add-on free of charge. You may have to download it, but Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3’s Heroes & Heralds mode is an entirely welcome addition.

Earning its own slot on the main menu, Heroes & Heralds mode is a comprehensive new gameplay mode. It may not add any new characters or environments, but it does add a whole new way to experience the content that by now you should be very familiar with: it’s like unlocking the ‘New Game+’ mode in many adventure videogames, only to find that the entire arrangement has been reshuffled. No longer is Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 a straight-forward three-on-three beat-‘em-up; now there are tactics outside of the fighting action to consider.

When beginning the Heroes & Heralds mode, the player chooses whether to become the ‘hero’ or the ‘herald’, fighting for the fate of planet Earth. The cast isn’t split as you may expect, instead playing as any character under the Herald team will replace the basic character model with that of the shiny clones used by Galacticus in the single-player Offline Mode. The idea of the Heroes & Heralds mode is to save/conquer the planet, a feat which is achieved by claiming terrain on a grid. Each piece of terrain requires several battles of increasing difficulty to win, and when coupled with the Hit List can offer a moment of mental flexing in addition to all the twitch gameplay.

The Hit List plays like a bingo card, with characters to defeat displayed on a chart. Should the player manage to make a straight line of defeated opponents they will unlock new bonus terrain offering the chance to win a high-class ability card, but should they lose this terrain lose and it’s goneElectronic Theatre Image forever. The ability cards are of course Heroes & Heralds mode’s other great addition to the formula, though while some will immediately fall in love with the idea, others could easily just ignore it’s presence altogether.

Deck building billed as one of the main features in the introductory sequence – eighteen pages of new information simply thrown at the player, before a fight is even engaged in. It doesn’t take long for an experienced Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 to learn how to get the most out of the new additions, but in keeping the mid-game handholding to a minimum Capcom has arguably alienated a significant slice of the videogame’s audience. During play, players will earn new ability cards for each victory. These ability cards offer varying effects, and up to three may be selected for use in each fight: a lead card and two accompaniments. Players can opt to strengthen a specific aspect of their fighting style, i.e. adding significantly to the duration, damage and fill rate of their HC meter, or they can simply choose to lightly increase three different attributes. Players will quickly find a selection that suits them, and skilled played will most certainly enjoy experimenting with the combination of different combatant teams and different sets of ability cards.

Heros & Heralds mode is playable both off- and online. The online mode is a curious beast, seemingly influenced by SEGA’s ill-fated Chromehounds. Online campaigns are persistent, lasting a week before resetting anew. Players choose a specific faction for each campaign, and each fight engaged in online willElectronic Theatre Image aid/weaken that faction’s position. Of course, the player is rewarded for their success in the online arena just as they are offline, with high-class ability cards being the typical privilege afforded to skilled players.

While there will be those gamers who argue that the release of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 should’ve been delayed to accommodate the inclusion of Heroes & Heralds mode, however in the real world such a decision may not have been possible: there’s a lot more involved in putting a videogame on a store shelf than simply arranging a courier. That Capcom have honoured their commitment to deliver the new gameplay mode for free is the greater concern, especially when many other publishers may have charged. Heroes & Heralds mode isn’t the definitive version of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, but it doesn’t ever try to be. It’s a new way to play the videogame you already know and love, and as a free addition, you can’t say fairer than that.

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