Capcom held its first community event in the Midwestern United States last Wednesday night showcasing the first public demo of the Tokyo Game Show build of Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. Fifteen PlayStation 3 consoles running the game were barely enough for a crowd that packed a nondescript Near West Side Chicago warehouse. In a sign that’s encouraging for the game’s ultimate sales figures, the line pressing to enter the demo space kept the event at capacity until just before closing as the burly security team swapped the patient crowd in and out, one for one.
Even with free pizza as a distraction, the lines for each individual demo station’s controller stood at minimum ten people deep at all times, with players calmly cycling though their turns as each match ended, save for some who risked the crowd’s ire by playing best-of-two rounds, EVO Tournament style. Keeping the event lively, a DJ played though a mix of house standards and Capcom game soundtrack remixes, eliciting chuckles from the crowd as familiar tunes reverberated off the warehouse’s bare concrete walls.
Hands-on, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 played as smooth as a game with its pedigree would be expected to. Beyond the individual character animations, the ‘world’ of the game is a kinetic spectacle packed with detail and references to the pair of universes the franchise shares. However, it must be noted that foreground effects firmly place the game in a comic book universe. There are clear nods like victory screens paneled out like a comic page but there are also blink-and-you-miss-it details like powerful attacks that appear to rip the ‘page’ the game is taking place on, only to have the fight flipped to a new one in an instant, giving the impression that the battle is actually a real page turner of an action comic.
Watching player after player select from the mostly franchise-new character roster (which unfortunately at this point did not include the recently announced Spider-Man and Resident Evil’s Albert Wesker), crowd favorites quickly emerged. In particular, Super-Skrull’s stretchy punches and a diving Human Torch super attack became the anchor for many teams, though flashy attacks like Amaterasu’s three-element (fire/ice/lighting) super and delayed action celestial brush attack proved popular. Old school experimentation also uncovered more thematical supers, like the movie-esce debuffs that were a staple of Viewtiful Joe’s solo titles. At the bottom of the list was Resident Evil 5’s Chris Redfield, whose overall ‘normalcy’ worked against him with a rush to see the more visually impressive characters and their moves.
The atmosphere of the event itself took on an old school arcade vibe of its own, true to the game’s roots. In the darkness lit by the monitors, crowds gathered at the corners of each demo’s console, issuing cheers and grunts for both well-executed moves and desperate comebacks. "It was great to see how excited and competitive everyone is. […] Everyone seems to have fallen in love [with it]," described Keisha Howard, of the local sugargamers.com blog. The appreciative mob, who for most Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has only existed as screenshots and YouTube videos, were not to be outdone by the enthusiasm of the larger, more costal gaming gathering’s attendees, “Gamers aren't limited to living in California and New York. The Midwest has its share of enthusiastic gamers who need more social gaming events to attend.”
That enthusiasm showed as fans came wearing their game and comic branded t-shirts, and even a few showed up in their cosplay finest including a mini-Dante from Devil May Cry and a Mega Man Legends Tron Bonne (complete with a giant Serv-Bot head that was passed among the crowd for photos). When it was over, the consoles were clicked off one by one and crowd shuffled home, some with a bit of swag, but all with their interest peaked for the game’s Spring 2011 release.Who do you want to play as most?