First off, I'd like to formally apologize to all of the avid fighting fans for not personally covering this game during its initial release for Dreamcast. Despite initial hopes to be all over it like white on rice, I've felt nothing short of a great disgust for the engine entirely. Naturally, such strong negative feelings were made evident in my performance, creating an even greater void and yes - more disgust. So it's pretty ironic that after two years, here I am (genuinely passionate at that) on the verge of ranting about like a gaming fanboy. Change is good.
There were a number of factors which led to this gradual change of heart, but I suppose the most significant was the fact this is the only console fighter in the U.S. to offer online play. Plus, the occasional game sessions with some of the local players slowly began chipping away at the thick, biased shell which kept me distant for so long. The timing couldn't be better ever since popular arcade venues have been replaced by workout gyms or residential housing - leaving the fighting community with limited alternatives to retain their competitive edge. And let's face it, for anyone that's already familiar with the game, we've all picked it up for the same reason - to talk tons of smack, kick ass and have fun doing it. To quote a familiar line. . .
"Hardcore fans have been eagerly anticipating this event.
And now, the waiting is finally over. . ."
Thanks to Xbox Live, such aspirations have been fulfilled. All you need is a copy of the game, a high-speed connection and your own personal "gamer tag" to get started. Wait a second. . .before I address the online elements, since it's possible that you've little or no knowledge as to what's new in the sequel; cue the background details if you please. . .
"This is the first dream event of the 21st century!"
The original edition was easily one of the most anticipated fighting games in history as it marked the first official crossover between the Capcom and SNK universes. Though as outlined in our review, its release was met with mixed results. Thankfully, the sequel made atonement for nearly everything that fans considered inappropriate within the game (especially avid SNK players who had every right to acknowledge that they were given the short end of the stick). CVS2 expands upon the limited game mode system, featuring 6 grooves in total (divided into 3 distinct categories respectively for the Capcom and SNK ensemble). Each groove offers specific abilities featured in previous Street Fighter 2 and King of Fighters' titles such as air-blocking, short jumps, parries, side-steps and custom combos. Best of all, where the original title only consisted of four action buttons, the traditional 6-button layout has returned! (Thank goodness Capcom recognized their error, it was such an awkward adjustment). O_o
For added variety and enjoyment, players can also configure pre-existing grooves to create their own specialized fighting style referred to as an Ex Groove (exceptionally similar to the aspect featured in Street Fighter Alpha 3's World Tour Mode). Plus, in order to accomodate novice players who may be intimidated by the game's complexity and logistics have a choice from two control configurations after selecting their favorite groove. Hado-wha? Can't pull of a Dragon Punch? Not to worry, thanks to the EO Mode or EO-Ism as it's called in the game; (AC-Ism allows the standard arcade parameters, recommended for more experienced players), giving newcomers with little or no knowledge of the game's mechanics to execute moves with ease and in essence, offer some exceptional competition against more experienced players. Though before some of you begin shouting unfair advantage, this mode creates a significant handicap (if that's even a suitable term) in case any *** cough, cough! *** veterans chose to take advantage.
To elaborate on the EO Mode specifics - in place of the directional pad (which is disabled), you'll need to use the left and right thumb sticks. Each action button corresponds to a designated special move. Normal moves are not accessible, so standard combos can not be executed. While this sounds pretty reasonable, I've encountered players that have used this and it's created some heat among other online players. Basically because any EO player can execute special moves at the touch of a button. Instant execution with zero reaction time. As a result, you could be facing someone that's got a Level 4 Bison and all you hear is "Pyscho Crushaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!" over and over. Not going anywhere for awhile? Approach such players at your own discretion.
Most importantly, the character roster shot up dramatically, featuring a total of 44 characters to choose from. Though don't expect any new kids on the block. Chances are, if you're a fighting veteran, you've played with Ryu and Kyo before. Moreover, the cast includes characters including Eagle, Maki, Yun, among others that have at one time or another, graced the fighting or action genres in some respect. So technically, there's really nothing new about the cast in general, other than the fact they're playable in this fighting edition. Although it's wishful thinking, I'd love to see a fighting game include a relatively larger ratio of original characters that make a sequel worth playing.