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by Capcom

CvsS2_05-01.jpg (8475 bytes)I’m going to say this right out: if you are a fan of fighting games at all go buy this game now. I was a complete newbie to fighters, but this game left me as a wannabe hardcore veteran. How? How did Capcom Vs. SNK 2 do it? It’s all in the grooves. You see, before you select your fighter you get to select your groove. Grooves will increase and decrease certain stats depending on which you chose. If you choose P Grove, for instance, you achieve a faster fighting speed, but with a worse defense. That in itself sets this game apart from the droves of beat-em-ups out there. It’s quite satisfying finding a groove that really works well with your playing style. While the player should definitely experiment with all possibilities, I found that the best groove for novices is the C-Groove, which is comparable to a jack of all trades (yeah, yeah, I know, master of none). With it, you’ll be able to get a good feel for the game.

CvsS2_08-01.jpg (8613 bytes)But the groove system is a double edged sword. Part of the appeal of fighters is, well, the fighters. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. While that still applies, it is to a much more marginal degree. When Blanca on P-Groove can get to be almost as fast as Chun-Li on C-Groove, you’ve got a problem. Still this problem, like the fighter differences, is marginal.

CvsS2_10-01.jpg (8928 bytes)While on the topic of the characters, it should be said that if you ever had a favorite fighter in either Street Fighter or King of Fighters series, you are very likely to see their ugly mug on the character select screen. I, being the non-fan (but also non-enemy) of fighters, was just glad to see a few stereotypical favorites, namely Ryu and Bison. So after choosing those two and hitting the randomizer like I always do for that third guy, it was off to the races.

CvsS2_04-01.jpg (9224 bytes)Now here’s a tip if you’re completely into fighting games: don’t buy the game for the single player arcade mode. The game can easily be beaten in an hour, with about half of that hour spent on the final boss, on the default setting. Up it a couple notches though and you’ve got a challenge. It’s still nothing like Mortal Kombat 3 on normal mode mind you (horrible excuse of a game, but great excuse to play the SNES), but perfectly adequate.

CvsS2_06-01.jpg (9244 bytes)Ok, now that I’ve gotten the boring chit-chat about single player mode done (you didn’t even read it, did you?) we can talk about the meat and potatoes of this game: multiplayer. I haven’t had this much fun beating the crap out of people since my friend Rachel made her finger double jointed by playing Tekken Tag Tournament too much. It almost goes without saying that the majority of playing hours with CvSNK2 will be spent with a friend. Obviously this means tremendous replay value. The game seems fairly cheesy and stupid to a bystander, but once handed the controller you’ll be hard pressed to take it away from them. When two skilled players fight, it’s a beautiful thing – combos, reversals, super-moves, the works. When you’re controlling this mind-boggling action you truly feel like a bad ass and the fighting spirit courses through your veins. Of course, this could be why so many arguments about who’s being cheap erupt (Hint: Only play this game with light hearted friends). But if a game can get you fussed up enough that you want to introduce your friends’ face to your foot, there must be something good going on.

CvsS2_01-01.jpg (9365 bytes)So, great gameplay, good difficulty, sweet groove system, blood pumping multiplayer, perfect game, right? Nope. Like all games, this one has a few quirks. For starters, the animation. It’s…. how to put this… ass. Well, it’s very decent animation, but nothing to write home about. I figured that since they were on a next generation console they could finally get 2D nailed. Instead the animation of fighters is as choppy as ever. I don’t want to see four frames representing a flip, I want to see a fluid motion. Not great, not horrible, but very 2D fighter-ish.

CvsS2_03-01.jpg (9746 bytes)While on the subject, the gameplay, even with its groove system, is still typical. I know that there’s not really much room for fighters to evolve, but I can’t completely forgive the fact that this game could’ve been made a decade ago. It wouldn’t have been as flashy mind you, but it would have the same basic elements.

CvsS2_07-01.jpg (10160 bytes)Here’s another point that is almost unfair to judge fighting games on: control. The PS2 pad is a great and diverse pad, but it was not made with 2D fighters in mind. That being said, the developers did an admirable job of trying to convert to the black glob of plastic, but there’s just no substitute for six face buttons. Get an arcade stick if you're really into it.

CvsS2_09-01.jpg (10294 bytes)In all, Capcom Vs. SNK 2 is the pinnacle of fighters to date. Hardcore gamers who stood in lines for countless hours to play someone in the fighting game of the month will find plenty to love, as will newbies. Just don’t expect too many innovations and you’ll be set.

David Logan   (02/06/2002)


Ups: Great replay value; excellent multiplayer madness; furious 2D action.

Downs: Animation could be a bit better; nothing new here.

Platform: PlayStation 2