Developer: Nihilistic Software/EA Canada
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: October 2005
When Electronic Arts first announced what was formerly known as their Marvel vs. EA project some months back, to say that fans—both of comics and of fighting games--were skeptical was an understatement. Already, EA was fighting a losing battle with popularity; the X-Men aside, the last time Marvel characters had been in a fighting game was Marvel vs. Capcom 2. A lot of people had been perfectly happy with that title, and had long awaited a sequel to it. This license (along with Capcom quitting the 2D fighter scene) drove the nail in the coffin for fans of that game and the others in its series.
After all, what franchises or characters did EA possibly have that could stand against the force of any of Marvel Comics’ mighty entities? A skier from SSX? Oddworld's Stranger? Or Exclusive License Man, perhaps?
The answer, we later found out, was that EA was going to make their own—with the help of Marvel themselves. In particular, Marvel artist Jae Lee and movie designer Paul Catling were tapped for character creation, and other Marvel writers will be handling the substance side of things soon enough.
Thus, out of this union, the Imperfects, a new team of superheroes were born. Not much is known about them yet, but the world soon will. The Imperrfects will be having their own running comic miniseries running from this month to the game’s release in October, and we’ll get to find out all of their backstories there—as well as what the roster even looks like. Few character designs have been released at this point.
You folks probably want to know about the game, though, don’t you? Yep, I thought as much.
Well, here’s the deal. The gameplay, so far, is 3D (get back here, purists), and looks to be reminiscent of games like Super Smash Bros. Melee, X-Men: Mutant Academy, and even the old Power Stone titles. You’ve got two or more fighters in a closed arena, chock full of objects to hurl at one another and ways to blow things up. The environments are destructible, and not just that “there are some conveniently placed barrels that blow up when you touch them because they’re supposed to” sort of destructible. We’re talking walls getting dented, giant billboards getting torn down (or used as incidental electrical weaponry), the whole shebang.
Each fighter has the same control scheme, and the usage of that control scheme remains identical for each fighter—however, all of the different attributes of each hero are taken into account. There are things that Iron Man and Spider-Man will be able to lift that Wolverine simply can’t; Wolverine’s healing factor will be taken into account, as will Spider-Man’s Spider Sense. Even normal attacks will vary in style depending on character choice. EA’s trying some inventive things in order to ensure unique experiences for playing as each unique superhero.
Also, for the same of game balance, EA’s got two gauges in the works to make sure that some powers don’t get abused over others. First is the aptly named “superpower meter”, which decreases every time one of a hero’s signature powers is in use. Powers that give a more significant advantage in a fight drain this meter faster, while powers that are more passive drain the meter more slowly. There is also a “rage meter,” that, once filled, gives the hero unlimited use of his superpowers for a temporary amount of time.
EA promises a deep, rich one-player story mode as well, though few details are known about it at this time. Should they deliver on that, they’ll definitely be one up on the competition, because it’s been a good while since the single-player experience of a fighting game not made by Namco has delivered yielded anything but simple cutscenes, or rote missions for the sake of unlocking characters and items. Multiplayer, both on and offline, is also planned, of course.
Time will tell if EA actually has a hit on their hands, or if we were really better off with a Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I have to admit that, as a 2D fighting fan, until I saw this game on the show floor, my opinions lay steadfastly in the latter camp. However, after checking out what EA’s trying to do, and how much research is being put into this game and the faithful representation of its cast, I’ve decided that I’m more than happy to given them a chance. The thought of being able to use superhero powers to beat up on my friends, while given complete freedom in my methods instead of having to memorize dial-a-combos, is too much of a siren call not to answer.
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