Review by fightmyjimmy

Reviewed: 03/13/06

Fantastic mechanics, but lacking in the show and shine.

I'm a 2D Fighter nut. I love fleshing out a fighting game, learning all the frames of animation, working out recovery times, and points of weakness for all the characters. Like the majority, I tend to swing towards the Capcom camp. It's not that I don't appreciate the intricacies and detail of SNKs fine games, its just they seem to have more soul behind them. Capcom Vs SNK was a landmark for the genre, a Capcom made, SNK endorsed crossover with the functionality of Art of Fighting, but the arcade feel of Street Fighter Alpha 3.

Being reviewed today is the same idea, but with the companies reversed. SNK Playmore making a crossover with Capcoms blessing to use their characters and movesets.

Story: 5/10
Its a fighting game. if you can name me a company that has been able to impose a detailed and meaningful story into a fighting game, I'll eat my hat. In this edition we get the similar themes coming from each character, which are occasionally expanded. We get shades of the Oriochi power that runs through SNK games, and we get the backstories of the Capcom characters flowing as normal. In the grand scope of things, the game appears to be set after Street Fighter 2, as the characters have a certain adulthood to them. Completely irrelevant, however.

Graphics: 7/10

I both love the graphics and hate the graphics at once. I think I was initially disappointed upon turning it on to see the lack of those satisfying crisp hits you would get in say, Street Fighter III. However, I played some more and became very aware of the incredible fluidity SNK have pushed into every character and sprite. The framerate never drops, even when using the huge characters (Earthquake vs Hugo can battle comfortably without a skipped frame) and moves such as roundhouse kicks and uppercuts are liquid smooth. The visual style is more what I had a problem with. The colors seem dull. The game has a very 'adult' nature about it, which I don't think I like. Another blow is the lack of stage/fighter pairings. There aren't enough backgrounds. Also, the projectile moves, such as a hadoken look out of place, as if they are part of the background of the stage, rather than on the sprite level. Overall though, the graphics give the game the framerate and speed it needs to possibly be a top fighter.

Sound: 3/10

I don't like the sounds at all. The hits connect with a relatively sturdy smacking noise, but it all seems a bit muffled. Character voices all seem to be done by one man and one woman (or one man/woman with a 7 octave voice) and get repetitive, and there is a notable absence of "Yoga Fire!", which is a blow to many SF fans. Most frustrating of all is the drone that is supposed to be background music. The stages all have slightly different tunes, but none are memorable at all. I was aching for the Ryu song to come on when I fought him, but it didn't.

Gameplay: 8/10

Very well thought out. Move priority in terms of cancelling other moves has been worked out well. I also like the minor changes such as fireballs going past people when you are right on top of them. There has been a lot of thought put into small details such as this. The moves are just easy enough to pull off, to save the thumbs the wear and tear of a PS2 D-pad. There are two types of supers, the standard which rely on one bar of super meter, which builds by performing specials or connecting hits, or both. Then there is an 'Exceed' move which can be done once per round (by default) and isn't linked to the super gauge. Rather, its only possible to perform if the characters energy is half spent or less. These moves range from easy to do to very hard to do (Geese requires around 20 button presses, Ken requires two quarter circles and two punches) and can really break the morale of a marauding opponent.

The characters are all balanced. It is possible to win with each and every one. One area of disappointment is that there are basically only two types of characters: those with charge moves (ie: hold back, towards + punch) and those with rolling moves (fireball motion). Although this does open the characters up for the beginner, with the exception of Geese and perhaps Hugo, there isn't anyone to spend a long time trying to figure out the moves for, which I like to do.

Another thing is the lack of modes to play in. With an engine this refined I would have loves to have seen tag matches or team battles from SNK. However, we get Survival, Vs, Practice and Arcade. SFA 3 this unfortunately isn't.

Play-time: 7/10

Not thinking of VS mode.If you enjoy fighters, you will like working through the arcade mode with everybody. There are a couple of secrets worth unlocking in the form of some very interesting bosses/unlockable characters. It isn;'t the treasure trove of nostalgia Marvel vs Capcom was, but its enough incentive to get really good. It took me a good month of considerable play to feel satisfied I can choose anybody and know a few decent tricks.

I would have liked to have had to work more for more characters, as basically all the 'secret' ones (even Shin Akuma and Super Mr. Karate - the boss characters) are available by holding R1 and highlighting certain characters.

Replayability: 9/10

Obviously a fighting game is better with friends than without. If you have a buddy who is willing to take controller 2, or even buy the game himself and get as good as you are, there will be some fantastic fights. There is no leeway for button bashers like there is in Capcoms more outrageous crossover games (no berserker barrage or one button projectiles thats for sure!) so there isn't the frustration of losing to your mate who pushed all the buttons at once when you;ve trained for the last 2 weeks. Me and my friends still get this game out quite often, and its been a good 6 months since we started playing.

Overall: 7/10

The main problem this game has is that the PS2 has about 5 or so fighting games that are just plain better than it, even in the smooth graphics department. This game is an essential purchase, however if you rarely see 2D fighters around and love them. For the real fans of the genre though, chances are you'll already have the Dreamcast with MvC and KoF games, the PS with SFA3 and a host of better games on the PS2, such as Guilty Gear and Capcom Fighting Jam.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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