If Marvel Vs. Capcom had been standing on its own, without four preceding Marvel-themed fighting games in the space of four years (two of those being Capcom Vs. games with the same tag-team style), I'd be inclined to be a lot more impressed with it. It does entrance a newcomer right out of the gate, with fluid animation, colorful graphics and easy-to-pull massive combos. When you play it for awhile, though, issues with the gameplay really begin to nag at you one after the other; if you're a fighting game aficionado, and are familiar with the previous entries in this series, they'll likely nag at you as soon as you begin playing.
Gameplay depth and balance are the trickiest parts of creating a fighting game, requiring a masterful touch all through the code that only very few companies have managed to pull off successfully (thus the decades-long dominance of Capcom and SNK in the fighting game market.) There's an alternative to this masterful craftsmanship, however; make your game so button-mashy and simplified that people are distracted from the lack of depth and balance by the ridiculous, flashy, over-the-top moves they can easily pull off with little to no skill or practice. Capcom didn't originate this trend, but they certainly noticed it; as the Marvel fighting game series progressed, they incorporated it more and more into the design, until it became the main philosophy of the series with this entry.
Of course, hardcore fighting game fans will hate this, since balance is king in a competitive atmosphere. Hardcore fighting gamers are still a niche market, however, and game companies looking to turn a buck always consider the mass market first. This game seems to be Capcom's ill-advised shift in dynamics to "accessibility"; a fine concept on its own, but not at the expense of totally breaking the gameplay so that only scrubs can really enjoy the game.
Let's take a look at the roster first. It is actually very solid here, with one of the better overall selections of characters (prior to the "throw everything and the kitchen sink in" approach of Marvel vs. Capcom 2.) Ryu is the lone shoto rep this time, but you can do a button press combo that outfits him with Ken or Akuma's move set in any match. The Capcom side is rounded out by Chunners, Morrigan (in her most secksualized form yet ... reasonable though, I suppose, given she is supposed to be a succubus), Zangief, Mega Man (looking a little overmatched here next to all the other behemoths, but holding his own with a highly spammable Mega Buster), Captain Commando, Jin and Strider Hiryu. Marvel mostly sees characters returning from other games, though there are some new adds - Spider-Man, Captain America, The Hulk, War Machine (virtually identical to Iron Man's old move set), Omega Red, Venom and Wolverine hold down this end. There are also a number of time-release and button-press hidden characters.
Absolutely the worst addition is the ability to play in an "Easy" mode, which makes the majority of your regular button presses do special moves automatically. Obviously, this is a scrub wet dream, and totally wrecks the play balance if some snot-nosed grubby-handed kid wanders up to the machine and picks it with Wolverine while you are playing in Normal mode and trying to exercise some skill in your play. It actually blows up in your face with some characters, though, like for example with Chun Li, who will go flipping over the enemies head most of the time when you try to just do any kind of a normal kick.
Redonkulous combos are done in all cases by simply rolling the stick in a Hadoken quarter-turn and pressing two buttons simultaneously. This basically degenerates all competitive play into charging the Super meter first and then chaining (through almost any old regular move) into an unblockable Super that takes off nearly half your life at once. If you play the computer, or play a bud who agrees not to be a spamster, the game can still be pretty entertaining as all the other aspects (such as responsiveness and collision detection) are really quite good. The problem with the gameplay is solely the imbalance in how little skill it takes to suddenly take off tons of health. There's some definite broken characters as well, even if you aren't spamming away in Easy mode; Wolverine no longer does unbreakable infinite combos but he's still pretty cheap, Strider also joins the ranks as a new major cheesehead, lamers can hang back and spam the Mega Buster and Beam with Mega Man or CAPTAAAAN FIYAAAH with Captain Commando, and Zangief has a Hyper Combo that is basically unavoidable if he gets right next to you and executes it (and it takes off more than half of your health.)
The game is gorgeous to look at, and can be fun in the living room if you are playing a friend who agrees not to cheese you. There's only so much you can play alone before it gets boring, however, and it also has possibly the cheapest Capcom final boss of all time.
* Gameplay Video