This year marked my first trip to the Eurogamer Expo. I was only able to attend the opening day, and with so many games and conferences I wanted to sample, I came up with a simple strategy: don't stay on one game for too long and try to mix it up.
Unfortunately this plan was abandoned after about ten minutes. As soon as I entered the Expo I made a beeline straight for the Challenge Zone, where I was confronted by not one but two Vewlix arcade cabinets hosting playable Marvel vs. Capcom 3 code.
With jaw slightly slackened, I witnessed Chun-Li taking a Proton Cannon to the face for the first time in glorious 3D. It was at this precise moment that I metaphorically hammered in the tent pegs.
Tinkering with the arcade machines was Leo Tan, Capcom's illustrious PR manager, who introduced me to Marvel 3's new six button layout. This turned out to be more in line with Tatsunoko vs. Capcom as the top three buttons were assigned to light, medium and heavy attack, with the lower three catering for a dedicated aerial button as well as two different tags. However, due to some kind of configuration problem, the second tag button was set to dash.
Seeing these calibration kinks as a potential excuse for losing I hastily clasped the arcade stick, hit the player two button and began to peruse the select screen. Scrolling up and down it was clear this was the same build shown at Comic Con with an even mix of Marvel and Capcom faces for a total of 18 characters – including oldies like Hulk, Felicia and Captain America and newbies like Trish, Doramammu and Viewtiful Joe. Nonetheless I was slightly disappointed by the absence of Albert Wesker.
Not wishing to look like I was trying too hard I fought back the urge to instantly pick Doctor Doom, Iron Man and Wolverine and instead opted for Chris Redfield, Dante and – mostly because I wanted a backup plan, but didn't want to pick the more obvious shotokan – Morrigan. It was then immensely refreshing to hear the nostalgic phrase, "select an Assist Type", because just like Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Marvel 3 is all about choices.
It's also about fan service as the first fight of the day, fittingly enough, was set in an Umbrella research facility packed tightly with caged Lickers and a slumbering Tyrant. Without any more time to contemplate what was about to happen the word "FIGHHHHT!!" exploded onto the screen in massive orange letters. This was going to be all kinds of awesome.
Redfield's moveset felt like a full-featured evolution of what an ex-STARS operative would be like in an extreme crossover universe. He can dish out some meaty punch combinations as well as throw grenades, lay proximity mines and pull out a flamethrower. His basic quarter-circle-forward special is also variable depending on which button you press, resulting in a shotgun blast, a machinegun volley or a hadoken busting magnum blast.
Hyper Combos also make a grand return with Redfield's payload being typically weapon based. The one which came out more often than not had him reaching for the grenade launcher and firing off a progressive salvo of ice, flame, explosive and electric rounds, but his more viscous Hyper Combo starts out with a knife slash and steadily works up the weaponry tree before cumulating in a devastating rocket blast.
More lethal still is his Level 3 orbital satellite laser which, as one of the days defining highlights, was used to finish off a Deadpool player as the Merc with a Mouth bellowed, "You pressed the wrong button!"