Marvel vs. Capcom 2 picks up right where the previous game left off, just with a bigger roster, the ability to field a team of three, and an inexplicable "light jazz" soundtrack.
Like the previous game, it's terribly and merrily broken. Upper-tier competition consists of only a handful of characters using an even smaller handful of strategies, because you'll be annihalated with anyone else. Of course, if you're not into tournament play that's irrelevant, but certain characters seem designed to be easily cheesed (Captain Commando, Iceman, Cable) while others are nearly impossible to do anything effectively with (Jill, Roll, Marrow). And then there's pulling off a 50 to 100 hit combo by pulling both triggers at the same time.
The roster is pretty neat for the most part, the sprites are mostly appealing, and the gameplay is actually quite good if you're fine with having no real play balance whatsoever. The thing that gets this game the Meh score is that there's virtually no single player value to it at all. The single player experience consists solely of running through Arcade mode to fight the same gimpy end boss over and over again (with no unique character endings, just a generic credits scroll) or a "score attack" mode. That's it.
Yeah, you can unlock all sorts of characters and alternate colors ... but the key to that is depriving you of a lot of important characters that should have been in the roster from the start. For example, here's just a partial list of characters that have to be unlocked at the start - Mega Man, Felicia, Captain Commando, Dhalsim, Morrigan, Magneto, Iron Man, Storm and Chun-Li! I'm of the mind that "unlocks" are fine, but should be exotic or broken characters, not series staples that you know people will be looking to play with from the jump.
Each run through Arcade Mode generally nets you enough points to unlock one or two new characters, but the Shop where you buy them is arbitrary as all hell. There's only two available at a time, and you have to keep entering and exiting the shop in the hopes that the one you actually want will take the place of one that's already sitting there. And not only that, but the prices randomly change each time you enter the shop, and can be all over the map from 500 points to nearly 3000 points! The ultimate slap in the face is that you don't even need to really play the game to accumulate points, if you let the Dreamcast sit on for five or six hours, you automatically accumulate enough to go on a spending spree. Which begs the question - if the characters can be had with no effort other than wearing your console down, why not JUST GIVE THEM TO YOU FROM THE START IN THE FIRST PLACE?!!!
The stupid unlock procedures, the single-player aspect getting worn out in a matter of days, the borked unbalanced cheapness of certain characters, and the terribad soundtrack that will imprint on your brain for life all converge to heavily weigh down what is otherwise a well-done and fun fighting engine with a good and large cast. If you've got someone consistently willing to play against you and/or have much higher than normal patience for beating up the CPU in samey arcade mode over and over and over, the game might justify the price tag, but otherwise try it without paying first or just steer entirely clear.
* Like the game but hate the music? Try this.
* Gameplay Video