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Marvel vs. Capcom 3: A fighter for the masses?

Hands-on: With great power, comes a great Shoryuken...

In this cruel world of frightening numbers and cold hard cash, we wouldn't be surprised if Marvel vs. Capcom was dreamt up by a well-dressed, cigar smoking businessmen - as a cross-promotional scheme to sucker in two immeasurably passionate fanbases.

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However, if we went by early impressions of the third instalment in the crossover series, it's what you'd get when a comic book nerd and a fighting game fan get trapped in an elevator with a few important people long enough to deliver a pitch.

A pitch that we like to imagine consists of said nerds acting out overly-dramatic fake punches, making sound effects like KKKKRRRUNCH, KA-BOOM and SMAAAASH while stringing together scenarios featuring the likes of Ryu, Iron Man, Hulk and Dante with 'and then... and then... and then...', barely drawing a breath in between each.

There's nothing like seeing Spider-Man, Ryu and Captain America shatter intellectual property boundaries to whale on an equally star-studded opposing team - that's something that anyone can appreciate.

This simple pleasure is the key to why the series has stayed so popular over the years and - coupled with a few smart control tweaks and gameplay enhancements - is what could make Marvel vs. Capcom 3 the most successful entry in the series yet.

HEROIC BEATDOWN
Capcom has taken the 'if ain't broke, don't fix it' approach to developing the fighting system for Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The series' 3 v 3 fighting mechanics have stood the test of time and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has obviously been used as the blueprint for the third game in the series.

It's not all the same though. While there hasn't been an MvC title in ten years, 2010 saw the release of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom for the Wii. The tweaks introduced in that entry have been rolled back into MvC3 and the result is a far more accessible feeling game that is likely to be less overwhelming and intimidating for new players, whilst allowing execution masters to focus on developing strategies and practicing match-ups.

For the uninitiated MvC3 is all about picking a three-man dream team of fighters from an impressive selection of Marvel and Capcom characters, then beating the Stan Lee out of the opposing trio of combatants.

The bread and butter of combat is a combo system which allows players to string together attacks by quickly hitting the light, mid and heavy attack buttons in ascending order.

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Beyond that, it can be as deep and complex as you want it to be. You can choose to execute an attack that launches the enemy into the air, follow them up there with a super-jump and begin another string of combos, or finish with a special attack and get ready for another assault once the player drags his sorry comic butt off the ground. You could even call in one of your two teammates for an assist attack to catch your opponent off guard and give you the time to rethink, reposition and kick off again.

The biggest new feature in MvC3 is the ability to call in your partners one by one during an air combo. After pulling off a string in the air hitting the launch button with a direction pressed will summon one of your super-powered buddies to pick up where you left off and continue the beat down. After all three characters have had their fun the opponent is smashed back down to earth.

Sounds unfair right? Luckily the victim can try and guess the direction used to tag someone in and input the same direction and launch command to prematurely end the air assault. This new addition makes air combat a guessing game as opposed to the one-sided combofest it was in previous games. Also, it looks ridiculously cool.

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