Capcom vs. SNK 2: EO for the Xbox represents the biggest advancement in a series of fighting games since Street Fighter II made its appearance on the Super NES. This is the fourth home version of this game that has been released in just under two years. First came the Dreamcast, then the PlayStation 2, followed by the Gamecube and now it makes its home on the Xbox. But this Xbox version has something that the other three, even the excellent arcade version didn’t have, online play.
This is one of Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO’s low points. The graphics haven’t changed much in the last 10 years, and it shows. Some of the new characters such as Haohmaru look superbly drawn and expertly animated. While others, such as Morrigan look like their sprites were taken straight from some of the first games in their respective series. The one main gripe with the game is the inconsistent art style used throughout. Some characters look amazing, while others make you wonder what they were thinking.
The backgrounds, a mix of 2D and 3D graphics, are superbly drawn. You might find yourself in a desert, fighting for your life, as 4×4 vehicles hit a dirt ramp, and fly over your head. There are also cameos by both Capcom and SNK characters in the backgrounds, making it even more enjoyable for those who have followed these series for a while.
The sound is what you would expect from a fighting game such as this. Forgettable, and sometimes irritating dance music is used for the background music. Most of the music has been recycled from the first Capcom vs. SNK. The majority of the new music is just as bad, and in one instance, worse than the original. There are a few highlights in there, but nothing that’s going to make you go out and search for the soundtrack.
The characters speech and taunts are nothing you haven’t heard since Street Fighter II or King of Fighters 95. The “Hadoken”, and “Tiger uppercut” are the same as they were ten years ago. While most would see this as laziness on the part of the developers, I see it as a blessing. There is just something reassuring about knowing what your character is going to say or do. While it would have been nice to have the voices redone, I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.
In every Capcom game, they have used the same, standard six-button configuration. Three buttons for punch and three for kick. While in the SNK games, they only make use of four buttons. This doesn’t sound like a major difference, but it truly is. In the original Capcom vs. SNK, Capcom went with the four-button configuration. While this leaned more towards the SNK side of things, it was very adequate. In the sequel, we now have the standard six buttons. While you may think this may lean more towards the Capcom side, it really doesn’t. The SNK characters have been tweaked to make use of these two extra buttons, and I think Capcom did a remarkable job.
The controls for the characters haven’t changed since you first put your quarter into the machine at the arcade. There are a lot of Down, Down-Forward, Forward + Punch or Kick moves. There have been a few new moves added for a few characters, but all in all, it’s the same game play we all fell in love with ten years ago. The controls are responsive and the Xbox controller does an adequate job of handling it. While the D-pad on the standard Xbox controller is not really built to be used in a game like this, it gets the job done. This is one instance where the standard Xbox controller (or the large controller) has the controller S beat. While the controller S has the better D-pad, more suited for a game like this, the placement of the black and white buttons, which are used for fierce punch and fierce kick, make it rather difficult to pull off some of the moves. The face buttons on the standard Xbox controller mimic the six button layout of the arcade machine better, even if the black and while buttons are a little too small. If you really want to be competitive though, it may be a good idea to invest in an Xbox arcade stick. There are many on the market, ranging from $20 to $150 for the X-Arcade two person controller. Getting any of these should make anyone who grew up dumping quarters into the arcade feel right at home.
EO mode is a control scheme first introduced on the GameCube version. It consists of using the right thumb stick on the control pad to pull off the moves. Tapping it certain directions pulls off the moves for you. While this makes the game a little flashier, it also takes away the skill of the game. Not only that, it allows you to do moves in succession that just aren’t humanly possible. Its good for beginners to let them know what’s possible if you practice, but you will ultimately get more enjoyment out of learning to do the moves yourself.
This is the first fighting game to be released in the US with online matchmaking as one of its components. This has been the dream of countless people, to be able to play with people from all over the country, whenever they want. This not only makes the game that much more fun, it increases the replay to an infinite number. When you first sign on, you are met with a screen with the following options. Quick match, which lets you jump into the first available match. Optimatch, which lets you choose from a list of filters, such as Arcade mode (no EO mode), Console mode (allows EO mode), Custom Color edits, Custom grooves, and Voice chat on or off. It also let you choose whether you want to fight only people domestically or worldwide. You also have the choice of only letting your friends join your game. The next option is Friends, which is the same as with any Xbox Live game, it lets you see which one of your friends is online, and in what game.
How does it play online you may ask? Well, good question. Its all in how you choose your games. After you set up your filters in optimatch, you are taken to a screen with the available matches. The network tests your connection with each of these, and rates them. There’s best, good, bad and worst. I have only chosen games with the best or good rating and I have to say that I was impressed. I saw and felt little to no lag. Out of the 150 or so matches I have played online, I would say 90% of them have been relatively lag free. The other few times I had lag, it either cleared up, and played normally, or it lagged really bad. I would say my overall experience was really surprising. With so much going on onscreen with the super moves, and flying fireballs, I would say that the network handles it really well.
My only complaint about the online portion is not really a complaint but more of an irritation. After a round is over, the screen goes yellow for a few seconds to load the next characters, and the voice chat gets cut off during this. While this may not seem like a big deal, it really is. After a heated round, it would be nice to taunt your opponent a little if you won, or give him a little talking to about how you are going to get him next round. Like I said, this doesn’t take away from the truly great experience of playing online, its just a complaint I have.
Now this is where it gets a little tricky. The graphics are outdated, the music is nothing to write home about, and the controls and the moves are the same thing we have been seeing for years. So why is it rated so high you may ask? Two words: Xbox Live. This takes a game that could easily get boring in a few weeks, and takes it to another level. When you get in a game with no lag, good players, and intense matches, it makes it one of the best experiences you have ever had online. If you even have a small memory of Street Fighter, or if you have been playing 2D fighting games for years, you owe it to yourself to pick up Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO.
For those without Xbox Live, that’s another story. Immediately take off two points. Like I said, the graphics are no different then the last game, and the sound is ok. If you only have a Xbox, and are really into 2D fighting games, then this is really your only option. But for those with a PlayStation 2, you could pick up Guilty Gear X2, which has much better graphics, great characters, and a good fighting system. Like I said, this is not a bad game, but you could do much better if you don’t have Xbox Live.
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