The story mode in Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is awful. None of the games have ever really had anything particularly great when it comes to a plot, but at least fights were against other characters. In the story mode of Infinite, players spend most of their time fighting against either Ultron drones or Asgardians infected with the Sigma virus. Long story short, Ultron invades Abel City, breaching the barrier between the Marvel and Capcom universes, merges with Sigma to become Ultron Sigma and uses the power of the Reality and Space Infinity Stones to merge the two universes together so as to be able to eradicate all life and impose mechanical order on everything. And force people to fight wave after wave of Ultron drones.
The culmination of the story mode does see players fighting against a suitably ridiculous final foe, but up until then it’s more of a slog than anything else, designed to shoehorn in all of the roster and do little more than that. It’s kind of awkward, then, that the roster seems so piecemeal and uninspired, with 30 playable characters at launch and more coming as DLC later. On the Marvel side there is not a single X-Man or X-adjacent character, or anyone from the Fantastic Four making the super’s side of the equation feel empty. The developers stated that the roster was chosen on the characters Marvel was actively pushing or had plans for, but it seems more likely that some kind of licensing deal couldn’t be worked out with Fox to get the rights to the X-Men, Magneto, and many of the other characters that were staples in the previous Marvel vs Capcom games. On the Capcom side of things, the roster is a little better, but Nathan “Rad” Spencer, or at least the dreadlocked version of him from the rebooted Bionic Commando should never appear in anything ever again.
The lacklustre roster also has one other rather large problem. Many of the character models look absolutely terrible. The more cartoonish characters like Firebrand, Arthur, X and Zero look fine, but the human characters (ar at least partially human characters) either look like they come from a previous generation or look unfinished. Dante in particular looks like the developers forgot some shading and texturing, and Tony Stark’s face is a bit of a horrorshow when he raises the Iron Man mask to emote. The overall impression the presentation gives is that the game was rushed, but considering the release doesn’t coincide with anything, that doesn’t make much sense.
Despite the problems with the roster, the single player story mode and the presentation, the core of Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is good. Very good in fact. Rather than the three on three fights of Marvel vs Capcom 3, Infinite takes it back to two on two fights, so there is no relegating a character to being nothing more than an assist. Assist characters have been replaced with an Infinity Stone, and the implementation is fantastic. Each of the stones has an instant power that can be used at the touch of a button, or a more powerful implementation that can be used once its meter is filled. Each of the six stones commands a different power. Time, for instance, gives players a quick dash when used without charges (an Infinity Surge), but a charged use, also known as an Infinity Storm, allows for easier chaining of combos and faster character switching to continue combos. The Space stone Infinity Surge pulls enemies closer, and the Infinity Storm traps the opponent in a box for a short while, essentially negating their ability to zone or dodge.
The four button fighting engine seems simple but allows for some very deep fighting mechanics. A simple string of light punches will launch a basic six or so hit combo with a popup, and pressing heavy punch and heavy kick together will launch a level 1 super move for every character, but don’t let the apparent simplicity fool you. This level of accessibility gives everyone an in for different characters, but unless you dig deep you’ll never master a character with simple button mashing. Character switching is extremely fast and this plays a huge role in fights, as not only do characters regenerate health when they aren’t active, combos can either be extended or reset with character switches, making for some big damage teamups. One of the potentially most powerful moves in the game requires the Soul stone and a character switch, as the Soul Infinity Storm resurrects a fallen character and they fight alongside the other character for a short while.
With any luck there will be some kind of Ultimate version of MvC Infinite somewhere down the track, with a better roster and some much-improved character models. The game as it stands has a great fighting core that is very enjoyable, but the mess it is stuck in makes fighting less appealing than it should be. To add insult to injury, six additional characters (three of whom actually are already in the game but are unplayable) are available for $29.99.