Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Phoenix takes it to the dark side

Feb. 20, 2011 | 8:48 a.m.

A great deal has changed since gamers last pitted villains and heroes from the Marvel and Capcom universes against one another in Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes. That fighting game debuted in arcades—yes, arcades—in early 2000. Now, more than a decade later, Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds has arrived for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Here at Hero Complex, to prepare for the fray, we’re doing a series of posts looking at the game’s Marvel villains, their history and their combat moves. Today:  Dark Phoenix

phoenix Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Phoenix takes it to the dark side

Phoenix (Capcom/Marvel)

As we finish up our look at the villains of Fate of Two Worlds, we turn to a true force to be reckoned with — and a woman who lives up to her name by testing any black-and-white definitions of good and evil in the Marvel universe.  Jean Grey was the original X-Men team member Marvel Girl but became more dynamic in the persona of Phoenix before  shifting again into the persona of the omnipotent and ravenous Dark Phoenix. When the cosmic Phoenix Force pushes her buttons just right, Grey transforms into a blazing entity capable of consuming Galactus and, if the mood strikes her, destroying a universe or two. How does that translate to Marvel vs. Capcom 3?

“If you fill up all five of Grey’s super meters and then you’re killed, she’ll explode in a giant fireball and turn into Dark Phoenix, with a new set of really over-the-top moves,” said Killian, a special advisor to the game. To turn the heat up on your opponent, use her “Phoenix Rising” attack, in which she uses her telekenetic powers to create a giant firebird that burns everything in it’s path.

If you think it sounds like more thought and care went into the treatment of the game’s Marvel characters, you’d be right. “Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes was a great fighting game but without much fan service when it came to the Marvel characters,” said Killian, who points out that Fate of Two Worlds looks more like a comic book by sporting narrative panels at the end of matches, pages that turn (or, in some cases, rip) as the player progresses and, when players are choosing their three-person team, animation that makes it appear as though the fighters are assembling on the cover of their very own comic book series.

What else can the Marvel faithful look for in the game? Plenty, according to Chris Baker, manager of licensed games at Marvel Entertainment. They brought hired veteran comic writer Frank Tieri aboard to write the lion’s share of the game’s dialogue; all the Marvel characters’ levels now refer to specific Marvel landscape (i.e. Spider-Man’s level takes place amid a Daily Bugle float parade in New York); and even the characters’ alternate costumes (for when, say, one Thor fights another) are rooted in Marvel canon.

Part of that fan service is a reflection of how much larger Marvel’s profile has grown since New Age of Heroes was first released. “Marvel is much bigger as a brand than we were back then,” said Baker, who points out that the only film franchise under its belt at the time was the “Blade” series. Since 2000, the heroes and villains of Marvel have gotten their Hollywood close-up in stunning fashion — more than 20 films and three more due this summer. “Yes, Marvel’s grown up. But so have video games. Ten years is one quarter of the life of the medium. So we’re all in a totally different place.”

— Mike Winder

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