The story side of Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite stumbles in trying to achieve a semblance of order amidst the clashing of discordant fictional worlds, but the multiplayer action is just as intense and chaotic as it's ever been, with spectacular battles that are enjoyable no matter which side comes out on top.
While I played through Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite's story and arcade modes multiple times leading up to Tuesday's release, I've only just begun testing my skills against other players. Eventually I will pick a pair of fighters from the 30-strong launch roster that complement each other's strengths and weaknesses, take them both through their challenges in Mission Mode, and really get to know them inside and out. But for now I'm just picking characters I like and seeing how they handle against real people.
Leaning heavily towards Dante, despite his hideous face.
Going into battle blind isn't so bad, as long as you have the hang of the button layout. The four face buttons on the controller are kicks and punches, with heavy and light versions of both. Every character can perform a basic combo by stringing them together in the right order -- light punch, light kick, heavy punch, heavy kick. Drop a crouching heavy punch to the end of that and your opponent's in the air, ready to be pursued and pummelled, keeping the combo going. Once you've mastered that, start weaving different special moves in, maybe swap out your characters in mid-combo, spice things up. If you're the kind of player who has trouble stringing combos together in fighting games, Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite is a good place to start.
And if you're the kind of player who'd rather not bother learning, there are a series of assists that can be enabled or disabled. Auto-combo, which I keep forgetting to turn off, turns repeated presses of the light punch button into a basic combo, while auto-jump makes sure your character follows a launched enemy into the air. The easy hyper combo option makes pulling off otherwise complicated super moves into a squeeze of a shoulder button. These assists can make the most novice of novices put on a good show at the very least.
If you want to learn the game properly, turn the assists off, something I failed to do in one of my earliest online matches, seen below. I picked Chun-Li and Captain Marvel because I like the characters, not because I knew Captain Marvel could easily slide under Jedah's projectile attack at the beginning of the round. I did not, hence the standing, blocking and looking puzzled.
I lost the match above, but I put on a good show. I blocked, I used my advance guards techniques. I exhibited patience. Had I been a little more familiar with my characters' movesets, I might have prevailed.
Then I accidentally hit rematch and went full-on button-mashing monster.
I feel like I accomplished more in the first match, but damn if the second wasn't a lot of fun as well.
There are four online modes in Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite: Ranked, Casual, the Beginners League and Lobby. The first two are self-explanatory, and an endless source of entertainment via both colourful losses and skin-of-your-teeth wins. The Beginners League is a special area for the lowest ranks to compete for graduation into the big leagues. It's a good place to flail against other players with all of your might, with no regard to things like strategy or defence. We're learning together, you guys.
Meanwhile, in the lobbies, players group together and take turns fighting and watching each other fight. I like to hang out in the lobbies most of all.
The only aspect of Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite I'm still not sure about are the Infinity Stones, six gems that grant players special abilities capable of turning the tide of battle. Are they useful tools, or sources of abject annoyance? I've lost count of how many times I've nearly won a match only to have a player using the Soul Stone initiate an Infinity Storm, resurrecting a downed team member and staging a massive comeback. So annoying.
On the other hand, say you're in a match with a player who instantly begins juggling you all to hell with Thor, and then tries to set you up for it over and over again. To me it seems like a good moment to start spamming the ever-loving-hell out of the Time Stone, rapidly dodging back and forth across the screen with no rhyme nor reason, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Is that too much power? Since the match above I've been actively avoiding choosing the Time Stone in order to avoid temptation. We'll have to see how it all plays out as the competition settles.
One win, two losses (at least two that I've posted video of here), and three very entertaining matches. I'll never be the best at Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite, but I'm having the best time not getting there.