MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3 Jean Grey's skills at deflecting Wolverine's clumsy come-ons meant Ryu's advances never stood a chance.

WHO WOULD WIN in a fight: Final Fight's Mayor Mike "I'm Not Jesse Ventura, Please Don't Sue" Haggar or Marvel Comics' tyrannosaur-armed, macrocephalic supervillain M.O.D.O.K.? Until recently, this sort of throwdown was restricted to geeky imaginations—but thanks to Capcom's Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners can now find out in the comfort of their own homes.

Admittedly, series fans will initially be disappointed with the MvC3 roster, which has been significantly cut down from its immediate predecessor's 56 to a mere 36 (with more possible, naturally, as downloadable content). Once you actually play the game, though, you'll see why the roster reduction was necessary: Unlike MvC2, which used (occasionally years-old) 2D sprites, MvC3's characters are rendered in amazingly detailed 3D. Even those who have appeared in games this generation, like Wolverine and the Street Fighter cast, have never looked this good. The models are spot on, and the cel-shading-esque texture work adds a comic book flavor that perfectly fits the game's over-the-top tone.

But the most impressive part of Marvel vs. Capcom 3—beyond its pretty graphics and its new power-up system—is how well it suits gamers who prefer to play solo. Even the best fighters have always had a decided multiplayer slant, and while MvC3 certainly offers months of player vs. player gameplay, its new modes will entertain lonely gamers for a long time. Other than the latest Smash Bros. sequel, MvC3 is easily the most single-player-friendly fighting game to date.

Taken as a whole, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 offers more value for the $60 entry fee than even Capcom's own Super Street Fighter IV. A few months ago, I would've thought it impossible for anyone to top that title—but once again, Capcom has brought to market a new high-water mark in virtual pugilism.