When Marvel vs Capcom 3 was released, fans everywhere fell under the spell of easily one of the most fun yet most challenging fighting games available. After a decade long wait, with a re-release of MvC2 on XBLA and PSN not too long ago, the scarily dedicated fan base (never challenge them to a match lest you want to be humiliated) were ready to learn a whole new series of move sheets and perfect their tag team of glory. Now, as Capcom seem to be a doing a lot recently, we have a new expansion on the original title. But the question arises, as it does every time, as to whether or not it is actually worth it or whether it should have simply been released as DLC? Super Street Fighter 4 felt like an entirely new game chock full of new, exciting characters, tweaked characters and a bunch of new modes to dive into. However, the same cannot really be said for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.
The last line is by no means a criticism of the game itself, merely a criticism of the way in which Capcom chose to release it. SSF4 was a retail release but felt very much like its own game to justify such a decision. UMvC3 doesn't bring enough to the table to warrant a retail release, albeit a budget one. This, in turn, makes it quite difficult to review the game. I feel like I would be treading ground already placed by our review of MvC3 itself because very little in regards to graphics, music or modes has changed.
The only real addition to modes is that of Mission mode. This provides you with a sort of structured training ground for each individual character. Rather than simply hopping into Practise mode and working your way through the move sheet until you have perfected, and learnt by heart, every single move available to every character, Mission mode allows you to find the best ways of combining these moves. Every character has their own set of missions tailored to their skill set. This lets you go much more in-depth into how to properly implement each character. It isn't a fantastic source of training, with a better comparison being the training mode in BlazBlue, which was a lot more in-depth yet easy to follow, but for the basics and getting a hang of particularly aerial combos it is useful. Other than that, the standard Arcade modes and Online modes exist which haven't really been tweaked at all.
The biggest change seems to be the inclusion of 12 new characters, 6 for each side. What is nice about the selection here is that each character plays much differently and are incredibly fun to learn how to play. There is one returning character from Marvel vs Capcom 2, Strider Hiryu, who plays much in the same way as he did in MvC2, but the rest are all entirely original. Ghost Rider is both a heavy and long range addition. He's relatively slow and clunky but, thanks to his chain whip, he can provide some much needed damage from a distance. Frank West requires you to take photos during battle in order to gain PP and learn the more deadly skilled moves and Phoenix Wright requires you to gather evidence. Although Wright seems weak at first, much like in his games, when the right evidence is collected, it can be used to devastating effect. There are also the weird ones like Rocket Racoon and Nova, who have a similar style to some other characters in the game. The most interesting addition is that of Dr Strange, who uses his magic to lure players into traps. This requires a lot of strategy in how you place certain "markers" and when to use them in combination with other attacks to create a destructive force!
There have been certain tweaks to the balance of characters. Those who were somewhat useless in the original game now have a lot more behind them, making you consider actually picking them for your team. However, none of the more popular characters seem to have been nerfed with some even gaining new moves to add to the sheet.
Other than this, there is very little in the way of expansion upon the original game. This makes it incredibly hard to score the game itself. By all accounts, the game itself is fantastic and much deserved of the score we gave MvC3 but there just isn't enough in UMvC3 to really set it apart as a title in its own right. The tweak and new characters could quite easily have been introduced through DLC or an update. For players who have never owned the game before and want a jumping in point, the reduced price and the new characters would make this the obvious choice and so a definite purchase. But for those MvC diehards who already have MvC3, it's quite difficult to gague whether there is any point in purchasing it seperately or simply sticking with the original title. For what it's worth, it warrants a purchase for first time players but existing fans may want to mull it over for a while.