Wow, what a disappointment. Unless you're truly starved for a new 2D fighter, you'll probably end up staying far away from this game. SVC Chaos had all the potential to be a bona fide 2D fighter, but ultimately ended up a digital lemon.
A battle beyond your imagination...
Following in the footsteps of the Capcom vs. SNK series, players can pit their favorite characters from the Capcom vs. SNK universe in another episode of martial arts mayhem. But the real chaos is finding a happy medium to keep your interests. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I clenched my fists in frustration as I struggled to execute moves (particularly when playing with charge characters) which traditionally were simple to execute with little or no effort. This leaves players meandering to find alternative selections, possibly characters whose moves primarily consist of half-circle motions. However, even they're prone to be inconsistent and unreliable.
Ignore the fact for a moment that Chaos offers a wealth of characters to choose from, especially since most of them are either practically unplayable due to quirky control mechanics or excessively overpowered. (Since when did Dhalsim become a formidable badass?) :p
In traditional SNK flavor, the in-game dialogue is pretty cheeky and is bound to raise a few smirks on occasion. However, some characters seem a bit out of character. Ryu, for example seems excessively cocky when he’s interacting with his rivals -- a quality that usually has been reserved to Ken.
Graphically, Chaos falls somewhat lower than the standard quality most SNK fighters offer. Although the characters are exceptionally well-animated, they lack the vibrancy and detail as evidenced in other Xbox 2D fighters. Stalwarts will also be turned off by the ugly traces of pixilation which will vary according to your television's resolution. Sadly, the backgrounds don’t fare any better, failing to offer any signs of improvement from its arcade counterpart and lacks a few critical details including parallax and interactive objects. Furthermore, seeing as the Xbox edition was a direct port from the Neo-Geo system, steps should have been taken to incorporate some enhancements to spice things up. Thankfully, future 2D installments such as the forthcoming King of Fighters 2002/2003 release will be graced by Sammy's Atomisware hardware, featuring high-res graphics and 3-D backgrounds; ultimately offering players a more visually, pleasant presentation.
"Here comes a new challenger..."
Playing online is unquestionably the game’s best draw, despite the fact the interface lacks the polish and critical features commonly offered by most Xbox online fighters. It’s a mystery that you can’t automatically rematch a human opponent. Instead, you’re kicked back to the main lobby where you can await an invite from your previous rival or establish a match of your own. This is probably the only reason why I’ll be inclined to keep playing, despite a couple of asinine remarks from self-proclaimed "champions".
Criticisms nothwithstanding, SVC isn’t a total hit-or miss and there certainly are a variety of likeable elements. The single-player mode, for example, offers an exceptionally challenging experience. When the action gets too tough to handle, players can even the odds by dropping the CPU’s energy gauge or lowering the difficulty a notch. I can’t deny that it can be advantageous when battling against Shin Gouki, but personal beliefs keep me from abusing such a feature and stick to solid skill and patience to achieve the sweet taste of victory. The Survival, Color Edit, Practice and Sound test modes also serve to offer players some added redeeming values; not to mention a modest Gallery Mode featuring the awesome illustrations developed by the popular artist, Falcoon who undoubtedly is my favorite artist. (More of his work can be found here.)
Not a battle...a struggle
Color me jaded, but SVC Chaos totally let me down. Given the lack of quality the title offers, $50 bucks is a steep investment. Unless you’re a fighting fanatic, there’s little reason to pick this game up (even renting it would be a stretch). In the meantime, I’ll stick to CVS2 for my 2D melee indulgences. Hopefully SNK Playmore’s next 2D offering will offer more brilliance and innovation.