Purist aspirations aside, CVS2: EO is essentially a solid arcade translation to the Xbox. I won't elaborate in details on the graphics and sound other than to state that I am eagerly awaiting for Capcom to produce a high-res fighter akin to Guilty Gear X. (Seriously, is a sprite upgrade too much to ask? Seeing Morrigan's dated look is really depressing and it indicates just how lazy Capcom has truly become). But I digress; two specific elements within the game were addressed. If you're looking to use roll-cancels here, you'll have to look elsewhere because it's no longer possible. P-Groove now allows players to execute Super Cancels (special moves cancelled into supers) ala Street Fighter 3. Plus, a few of the characters who are acknowledged as "top-tier" (i.e. Sagat, Blanka, Cammy) were tweaked to be somewhat less of a dominating force. ("What powah! Who can stop these devastating warriors?!?")
Um. . .yeah.
These characters STILL are devastating. It's as if Capcom dropped the notch .001%. So yes, you too in five minutes or less can become a "skilled" opponent just by mashing away on Fierce (or Roundhouse) and dominate your opponents with ease! It's true!
"The time has come, when the new history is going to unfold."
Though let's move onto the main draw of the game; online play - the pros and cons, and most importantly, the overall experience. To reiterate the general admission expressed among other editors and fans - the game is awesome, but it's not perfect. We'll tackle the cons first. Lag is one of the greater concerns among the fighting community and unfortunately it shows its head on occasion. One would expect that latency wouldn't be an issue seeing as how a high-speed connection is mandatory. Though the general consensus discussed throughout numerous forums has led me to the conclusion that certain ISPs are the main suspect.
I'd like to stress to anyone who's considering purchasing CVS2: EO to conduct some research on your existing ISP to ensure that it's even compatible with Xbox Live. Users of Road Runner, Comcast, MSN Broadband - to name a few will get you up and running with no difficulty (See Internet Service Providers at the official Xbox website). Though if you're using a non-certified ISP (read: recognized by Microsoft as a "compatible" service), chances are you'll be among the disgruntled due to the possibility of exercising a few more extra steps before you can even jump on the virtual battlefield. Compared to the X-band (which basically was the precursor to what we're enjoying now), matches occassionally are hindered by congestion to the point that your reaction times will be substantially compromised. In that event, it's suggested that you connect your Ethernet cable directly into the Xbox instead of through a router to receive the best possible connection speed. With just a bit over a week in operation, I am sure that Microsoft has received tons of consumer feedback and hopefully they'll address the network issues in a prompt fashion.
". . .the road to victory is not an easy one."
Network imperfections notwithstanding, over 90% of the matches I've played online were very smooth and responsive. Using the Xbox Communicator is a great asset for interacting with other players whether they're friends or someone you've never met. So even though you can't "see the intensity in their eyes" like the arcade, at least you'll be able to hear it along with the rest of the trash talk they'll be spewing at you. If one can even call it that. Sometimes, you'll encounter some "unique" challengers and it leads you to the conclusion that some people are better seen than heard (on any occassion). In the event, I sincerely recommend that you take advantage of the mute function.
In any case, if you're totally dependant on the Communicator, you're likely to run into some difficulties. It's a subjective point, but generally many players feel that a joystick is the best way to play console fighting games. . .and I'd be the first to agree. However, if you're a owner of a MAS Arcade stick or some obscure third-party peripheral, be prepared to do a lot of cord swapping. You see, none of these sticks were developed with Xbox Live's networking functions in mind. In other words, they're not designed to support the Communicator. So, if you're comfortable with making the investment, you may want to consider an X-Arcade adapter which will accommodate your headset. However, whether you'll be comfortable using the stick itself is another discussion altogether. On a slightly related note, players with an affinity for pad usage are pretty much SOL if you're expecting to be a force to be reckoned with using the S controller or stock pad (ew!) due to their design. Your best option is to acquire a Magic Box and then if you've got a Saturn joystick or 6-button pad lying around - plug that sucker up. Otherwise, prepare to lose a LOT of online matches.
Speaking of losing, your statistical performance is ranked against players worldwide. At present, Japan is leading the pack with a sprinkle of North American competitors spread throughout the top 200. The rankings is very straightforward, featuring your current rank, wins, losses, total points accrued (tallied from matches against other players based upon over match performance, use of special moves, supers, etc.) and your native country. For many, the ranking system will mean the difference between being a good player and a better player. Most are so rank conscious (or ignorant) that they will do anything to compromise the ratio of losses when encountering players that defeat them in a match. Their solution? Pulling the plug. Lame. . .simply because you'll receive a loss on your record along with the player that ejected from the match. Is this fair? Of course not, but unfortunately no counter-measures have been developed and the designated winner ends up with a raw deal. This is an extreme deterrent to fair play and it must be addressed immediately.