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Capcom Vs. SNK 2
Review By:  J. Michael Neal
Developer:   Capcom
Publisher:   Capcom
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Fighting
ESRB:   Teen
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Card
Date Posted:   3-7-02

Six months after the release of the first game in the series, the company that created such fighting franchises as Street Fighter and Darkstalkers unleash Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001 onto an unsuspecting public. Possibly the final title of its kind, C vs. SNK2 sets out to be the definitive 2D fighting game. In theory it does so quite competently, despite not being wholly original. Considering Capcom's penchant for superfluous sequels (and tongue twisting titles) you'd think this fighter was yet another easy release from the gaming giant. However, this time around enough new (and old) elements come into the field to make this game a wise purchase for any fan of the genre, regardless of itís final place in the annuls of fighting game history.

The premise behind the game is the stuff that dreams are made of. Combatants from rival SNK and Capcom camps face off in a no-holds-bared championship to see which side has what it takes to come out on top. Regardless of what faction youíre partial to having both companies in one arena is a pretty epic proposition. Gamers will find much to love in the lineup, and will be hard pressed to not find at least one old favorite in the crowd. Pugilists from practically every major release in SNK and Capcomís legendary history, including all those youíve come to expect, help round out the 40 + character roster. Some faces, like Eagleís, havenít seen the light of day in at least a decade, and are a welcome addition to the characters that seem to appear in every game.

Any fan of the genre knows that the life-blood of a 2D fighting game is the Ďfeelí of the fighting system. Luckily the "Groove" system in C vs. SNK2 allows anyone whoís played a popular Street Fighter or SNK title in the past 5 years to feel right at home. In a nutshell each "Groove", or fighting style, encompasses a particular combat system from one of Capcom or SNKís venerable franchises. For example, the C-Groove is the standard system employed in most Capcom games, complete with air blocking and the classic three-level Super Bar that fills after successfully landing a move. The S-Groove, on the other hand, mimics the style of your average Art of Fighting game, right down to manually charging your super bar. Use to the Street Fighter III parry system? Use the P-Groove and itís almost the same game. Instead of having to adapt to a new feel, the game caters to your area of expertise, letting you use your old tactics on a brand new crowd. And while fans looking for the fast and furious action of Marvel vs. Capcom will be disappointed (thereís nary a single triple digit super move or 24 hit air combo to offend the eye), the Groove Edit option does allow you to mix and match properties of each Groove to recreate practically any fighting game on the planet, from Rival Schools to Gem Fighter. This game really goes a long way to help capture the feel of all the old 2D fighting classics, and help make this game a classic in itsí own right.

The game does feel a bit lacking in the modes department. The standard Verses, Survival, and Arcade are all here, but thatís about it. The Arcade mode does boast three sub-options, however, in Ratio, Three-on-Three, and Single, which do add some much needed spice to the formula. And while the Ratio mode is the real bread and butter of the game, a Tag option would have been a nice touch considering the roots of the "vs." series.

An important aspect of any fighting game is the controls, and while it should be said that the Playstation controller has never been ideal for Capcom fighting games, the game handles the same as ever. Moves are all preformed with the standard "fireball motions" and the response has never been tighter. It is nice to see Capcom try to compensate for the four-face button design by allowing gamers to use the right analog stick to control character movement. Itís not quite like using an arcade stick and not quite like using the D-Pad, but itís a nice combination of the two. And while this takes some getting use to it definite saves wear and tear on the old thumbs.

On the visual side of things graphics are well constructed and brimming with personality. Vibrant backgrounds and flashy effects make each fight an eye full, characters look and move the way they should, the frame rate is smooth, and all the animations weíve come to expect over the years are there. Nice little touches, like highly active backgrounds and pre and post battle taunts, are abound, and the front-end has a very clean look. The only sour note are the character models, which sport a surprisingly low-res look. Some characters arenít too bad, but others are covered in jagged lines and distorted details, giving a very heterogeneous look to an otherwise well-polished game. And when compared to the drop-dead gorgeous, high-resolution models of Guilty Gear X the game can be down right ugly at times.

Sonically, the game shines. Sound effects rock the speakers and catchy "J-Pop" floods each level. Each fighter has a stunning array of verbal taunts and sounds that go a long way to help distinguish some of the more similar characters from one another. Every "Hadoken!" sounds crystal clear and all the voices were taken from the original game, so everything sounds just as it should. The only problem is the headache-inducing announcer may drive some to turn the sound down entirely, just to silence his near constant ranting. An option to turn him off would have been a godsend.

Considering how much is in this game already, it seems almost gluttonous to ask for more, but it feels like Capcom is holding back on us, saving material for yet another sequel. Although it feels like a lot more could have gone into this game, that feeling doesnít take much away from this solid effort. Capcom vs. SNK 2 has a long way to go before it can be considered the "final word" in fighting games, but in the trying it has certainly set a high-water mark for other fighting games to follow.

HIGHS:

  • Although the game doesnít have everyone youíd expect, the lineup is long enough to please just about everyone.
  • Game play is as tight as it gets.
  • Groove system captures the feel of many past fighters.
  • Ratio mode offers near infinite strategy.
  • Voices and sound effects are top-notch.
  • Levels are distinct and lively.
  • Analog stick support a nice touch.

LOWS:

  • Character models are pixilated and jaggy.
  • Lacks fighting modes.
  • Announce is really, really annoying.

FINAL VERDICT:

This game sets out to be the pinnacle of Capcom and SNKís long and illustrious history as 2D fighter makers, and does so. That is, at least in theory. Combining the systems of nearly every past fighting game known to man, along with a lineup spanning both companiesí careers, and enough tactics to brand this a strategy title definitely gives C vs. SNK2 the formula for the Millenniumís greatest fighting game. Ultimately it doesnít feel Ďbigí enough to really do both companies justice simultaneously. In trying to reach these goals, however, Capcom has definitely created one of the more enduring fighting games of the last 15 years. Capcom vs. SNK 2 has enough depth and balance to make this a welcomed addition to any gamerís library, even if it itís not as "final" as one would hope.

Overall Score: 8.9

 


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