Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite comes six years after Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds hit store shelves, which means expectations are high for the title to push the franchise forward. Unfortunately, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite doesn't quite hit the mark, and in many ways feels like a step backward.
The first thing players will notice about Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is its lackluster graphics. Animations are fine and the game runs smooth for the most part, but character models leave a lot to be desired. A lot of characters look like inflated versions of themselves, with Captain America's absurdly muscular body looking especially comical. On the bright side, Chun-Li's face has been somewhat improved after the pre-release backlash, but like all the other characters in the game, her character model is uninspired at best.
Once players are able to move past the game's graphics, they will find a competent fighter, focused on streamlined, fast-paced tag team action. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite drops team size from three fighters to two and adds the new Active Switch system, which allows players to immediately bring in their partner mid-combo, adding another strategic layer to the fighting. Overall, the Active Switch system and two-on-two battles change the gameplay for the better, and should be well-received by fans.
Another big change to Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite's gameplay is the addition of the six Infinity Stones, which grant special buffs and abilities that can complement fighting styles or compensate for weaknesses. When used properly, Infinity Stones can play a major role in the outcome of a fight, but it seems like many people outright ignore them or don't use them in a strategic manner, activating their abilities whenever, instead of at the most opportune time.
One of the major ways that Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite differs from its predecessors is its inclusion of a cinematic story mode, which attempts to build a plot out of the concept of the Marvel and Capcom universes colliding. On paper, this sounds like it could be a lot of fun, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The story itself, wherein Ultron has used the Infinity Stones to combine himself with Mega Man X's villain Sigma, is weak to say the least, with random character interactions that lack emotion or purpose.
Almost every cut-scene in the game consists of characters acknowledging one another, sometimes spouting a catchphrase, and then fighting each other or something else. These moments should feel exciting or special, but instead they feel awkward thanks to poor voice acting and a halfhearted approach to constructing a coherent story.
Unfortunately, actually playing story mode is just as bad as suffering through its cut-scenes. The bulk of story mode consists of short fights with Ultron drones that are book-ended by long load times and uninteresting, cheap-looking cinematics. Considering this, most people may be tempted to skip story mode completely, but players have to beat it in order to unlock all the stages in the game.
Speaking of stages, that's another area where Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite may disappoint fans. Instead of featuring iconic locations from Marvel or Capcom properties on their own, it mashes them together. For example, players can fight in a stage that is a combination of an AIM facility and an Umbrella laboratory, or in a blend of Abel City and Asgard called XGard. This may sound like an interesting idea, but the game never does anything clever with the mashups, and none of the stages stand out as particularly memorable or noteworthy.
The rest of the game modes are standard for fighting games, but they are all far more engaging than Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite's story mode. Players can fight the CPU in a traditional Arcade-style game mode, or take on other players in local and online multiplayer battles. There's also Missions where players are challenged to complete combos or actions with specific characters, which is a great way to learn the basics of new fighters without going into Training mode.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite has a decent selection of game modes, but the same can't be said for its roster of playable fighters. There are only five new fighters available at launch, in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy's Gamora, Jedah Dohma (from the Darkstalkers series), Mega Man X, and Ultron, with 30 playable characters total. This is six less than was available in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds at launch, and to make matters worse, there are some rather glaring omissions.
As many fans are likely well aware of at this point, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite lacks some of the franchise's most popular fighters, with all of the X-Men cut, seemingly due to politics surrounding the X-Men movie rights. This means that players can't use fan favorites like Wolverine or Magneto in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, and the new additions to the roster, while appreciated, don't come close to replacing them.
What's worse is that there are some new characters seen in the game's story mode that aren't actually playable in the game, but will be added as future DLC. This includes characters like Monster Hunter and Black Panther, who both appear early in the story, yet aren't on the roster. While we can't say for certain if these characters are an example of on-disc DLC, their inclusion in the story is suspicious, especially when one considers Capcom's past history with on-disc DLC and fighting games.
Roster omissions, a tedious story mode, and a poor presentation all hold Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite back from reaching the same heights as its predecessors. While it's still fun and accessible at its core, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite's flaws are just too much for it to overcome.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant received an Xbox One code for this review.