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Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite - Character Pass
Score: 65%
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Local); 2 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Fighting/Online

Introduction:

If you navigated to this review, youíre almost certainly on the fence regarding the Character Pass for Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Those who arenít on the fence are likely in two camps: either they donít own the game or are not interested in the type of downloadable content offered by most modern fighting games. And this review is destined to come with a caveat; I donít have a very good eye for balancing in fighting games. So Iíll provide some background and brief playstyle descriptions for each of the six new fighters; hopefully this will be enough to push you towards a final decision.

Sigma:

For the first time in years (and maybe even decades), it's a good time to be a Mega Man fan. Not only are we getting a sequel to the core franchise, but Capcom has plans to rerelease the Mega Man X series. The original big bad of that spinoff, as well as half of Marvel vs. Capcom Infiniteís composite villain, Sigma is the leader of the Mavericks, that violent faction within the Reploid race.

Heís more than a bald dude with an incredibly creepy set of eyes. Heís every bit as dangerous as he looks. Maybe not quite as dangerous as he is in his numerous incarnations in the Mega Man X games, but letís be frank: games now just arenít as difficult as they were back in those days. Still, itís pretty empowering to play a killer robot with an energy sword and the power to rip holes in transdimensional fabric. Not someone on whose bad side you want to be.


Monster Hunter:

The first of two characters seemingly included to generate buzz for a separate (but no less major) 2018 release, a random Monster Hunter makes her way to the fold. Yes, Monster Hunter World is on its way, and the Character Pass includes one of these archaic warriors as a clear means of giving the hype train behind the first major release of 2018 a kick in the proverbial pants.

Decked out in feathers, bones, and basically an entire outfit carved from a veritable menagerie of fictional exotic animals, Monster Hunter looks absolutely ridiculous in this game. She should, as she most definitely does not hail from a setting that has achieved very much in terms of technological progress. But while the playstyle of Monster Hunter has nothing to do with the systems and mechanics we all associate with fighting games, the character feels more or less right at home among the original motley crew.


Black Panther:

Captain America: Civil War saw the understated entrance of King TíChalla of Wakanda into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but heís getting his own standalone film this spring, courtesy of Creed director Ryan Coogler. And in the spirit of full disclosure, Iím arguably more stoked about Black Panther than, yíknow, that other one. The one whose casting budget could probably pay off a third world country's debt. Avengers: Infinity War. It just looks so different in both style and substance that I canít help but be excited.

Black Pantherís playstyle can almost be derived from his chosen superhero name. Heís fast and ferocious, prioritizing lightning-fast assaults and high-flying evasive maneuvers over deliberate attack patterns and tanky defense. When it comes down to it, though, itís all in the claws. Weirdly enough, he feels quite a bit like Vega from Street Fighter.


Black Widow:

Depending on who you ask, the first ass-kicking beauty to join the Avengers (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, at least) is or isnít shown enough love. While a number of asides and quiet moments loaded with subtext hint at a particularly horrific past, itís easy to see that Natasha Romanoff is still loaded with potential as both an action heroine and as a three-dimensional character. As we move deeper into the game-changing Phase III of the MCU, I sure hope she stays safe.

In Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, Black Widowís abilities largely reflect the high-flying acrobatics and brutal close-quarters combat exhibited by Scarlett Johansson over the years. Sheís a hurricane of guns, gadgets, and limbs. And best of all, she feels considerably more self-made and confident than most of her Marvel contemporaries, who were mostly in the right (or wrong) place at a very specific point in time. Long story short: no super powers, no problem.


Winter Soldier:

Poor Bucky Barnes. The guy just canít catch a break. Captain Americaís best-friend-turned-enemy-turned-best-friend again is a thoroughly tragic figure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As powerful as he is tortured, his impulse to return to his past self is frequently superceded by the lasting influence of Hydraís brainwashing. His depiction here seems tailored to about where he's at in the MCU, stasis therapy aside; he and Cap being on a permanent first name basis during fights says it all.

Winter Soldier is big on guns and munitions of all sorts, as he is in both the comics and the films. You didnít need me to tell you that heís capable of whipping out pistols, assault rifles, and small explosives. His existence in this game should be enough to tell you that. But of course, thereís the matter of his mechanical arm, which, despite what happened to it in Captain America: Civil War, serves as perhaps his greatest asset.


Venom:

The only new addition to Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite who has yet to make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Eddie Brockís symbiote-corrupted alter ego explodes onto the scene in all his oozy, tentacled, nightmarish glory. He looks absolutely awesome here, and replicates the consistency treatment given to Cap and Winter Soldier with regards to Spider-Man. That being said, his voice acting sounds like that other symbiote villain. You know... the more overtly evil one?

Luckily, Venom plays with the correct balance of speed and raw power you'd expect. His ground and aerial movement is rife with all kinds of visual flourishes, and the multiple ways in which he can contort and mutate to attack and defend are magnificently grotesque. All the teeth, goo, and exposed musculature you're used to seeing from the character? You get it here, to say the very least.


Conclusion:

If I have a grasp on the Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite community, I suspect that most players will want these characters on the merits of the tangible fanservice they provide. For others, these characters help add a certain completeness to the game that feels more substantial than the fighters paywalled off by other publishers. (Not naming any other names, but Warner Bros.)

As much as I love Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, I donít think Iím quite the target audience for the Character Pass. Part of this comes from the fact that the last decade of watching my favorite industry mutate in frighteningly cynical and exploitative ways has whittled me down into a cantankerous, jaded consumer advocate. I can appreciate good business sense, but that doesn't mean I can't also resent it. As this applies to Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, I remember thinking the original roster of fighters was a bit on the scant side. Ultimately, Iím hesitant to praise a release that elevates a standalone product from slightly incomplete to slightly more complete. Iím not against the idea of this kind of stuff being sold separately, but these six characters are currently being sold together for half of the core game's launch price. I'm just not good with that. At all.

If you want to remove the value factor from the conversation and focus exclusively on the content on offer (and you really, really shouldn't), Capcom has been on top of this for decades now. If itís up your alley, youíll probably dig it.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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