MvC2’s combos are built using an easy to grasp, and often forgiving, link system. So, you’re able to tap light punch twice then hard punch for an easy three hit combo with just about any character in the game. Key to getting better at MvC2, however, is the launcher system. By pressing down or down forward and hard punch or hard kick, you’re able to launch your opponent into the air. If you press up immediately afterwards you’re able to jump up in hot pursuit and perform an air combo, dealing additional damage before they’ve even hit the ground. The launcher can usually be strung onto the end of basic combos, like the one described above. So you can see that big combos aren’t going to be beyond most players.
Layered on top of this is the Super Combo system, similar to Street Fighter IV’s Ultra Combo system. Your three-person team shares a single super meter, which fills, as you take and deal damage, up to a maximum of five levels. By doing one simple motion and pressing both punch buttons or both kicks, the screen will freeze for a split second and you’ll unleash a… you guessed it, Super Combo. Every character has at least one, some as many as three. Ryu, for example, has a massive Hadouken that hits his opponent multiple times. X-Man Gambit explodes in a flurry of kinetically-charged playing cards. Every character’s Ultra Combo is different, but they’re all huge fun.
Now here’s where things get interesting. If you’ve got enough Super Combo levels filled you’re able to combine all three of your characters' Super Combos into one super, duper mega madness (not the official name) combo. All you need to do is the motion for the on-screen character, then, before the animation’s run its course, perform the motion for a partner’s Super Combo. This brings your partner out who automatically starts their Super. Then, before that’s finished, do it again, and your third and final character will finish it off. This, my fighting game fan friends, is what MvC2 is all about.
Put simply, it’s a fast, frenetic, at times bonkers brawler. An absolutely insane amount of stuff can happen on screen, to the point where you often find it hard to keep track of who’s hitting who and from what direction. It’s never boring though – the kind of feel, pace and strategy involved is almost in direct opposition to Street Fighter IV’s more considered, slower play, which is no bad thing. In fact it’s just as great, for some even better, but for different reasons.
And that's Spider-Man, Wolverine and Iron Man busting out their Super Combos on poor old Ryu at the same time. Ouch.
What’s new for the hardcore? Well, the two new character graphic modes on offer – crisp and smooth – are welcome, but this is not in any way a HD Remix. It probably wasn’t needed anyway – the graphics always were excellent. The backgrounds in particular, all 3D, are vibrant, eye catching and colourful, and look great on high resolution TVs. Apparently the original textures and assets from the Dreamcast version were much higher quality than the Dreamcast could display at the time. It shows.
For purists, those who’ll no doubt turn their noses up at all this HD nonsense, you can use the “Classic” setting, which leaves the sprites completely unfiltered, and turns the ratio to 4:3 (the widescreen support is excellent – it doesn’t touch the play area, and doesn’t zoom and crop like HD Remix did). This gives an almost identical look to the Dreamcast version – the version still used in fighting game tournaments around the world.
Most important of all, of course, is the addition of online. With the game developed by Backbone, the same studio behind the excellent Super Street Fighter II Turbo, it comes as no surprise to find the net code is solid and works well, with similar menu options and support. The excellent player match quarter mode/lobby system from HD Remix returns (why wasn’t it in SFIV?), which is great. There are leaderboards, too. Capcom’s called it “the best fighting game net code ever created for consoles”. We’re inclined to agree.
When all is said and done, if you’re a fighting game fan MvC2 is an essential purchase. It won’t be for everybody – it’s at times bewildering, even though button mashing and repeated quarter circle forward motions often result in spectacular combos. Underneath, one hell of a fighting game system is there for those of you who wish to unravel it – the game wouldn’t still be played by the pros on the tournament circuit if it didn’t require genuine skill to master. But really, the big draw is online play. That and the prospect of a trip down a Dreamcast-coloured memory lane.