Two companies enter, one company leaves.
The problem with reviewing Street Fighter games is that they're usually all really good games. Yeah, just sit yourself down with a cold beer and a bag of Doritos, play a few rounds as Ryu (never Ken, because Ken is inferior), and enjoy yourself, just like you always do with any other Street Fighter game. It's exactly the same deal, beating the same exact fighters with the same exact combinations. The big problem is that the game really hasn't changed in 4 or 5 years.
So, rather than grading the game objectively, I'm going to review it in terms of how it differs from all other SF and Versus games.
The story of the game is typical SF nonsense. A bunch of rich guys and Bison have sponsored a tournament (isn't that original?) The rich guys wanna make money, and Bison wants to drain power from the fighters to enhance his "psycho" power. Depending on who you choose, you'll wind up fighting either Geese or Bison. Now, you'd think that would mean twice as many possible endings for every character. Wrong!
Capcom only provides two mundane endings, no matter whom you choose. So if you fight Bison you get the Bison ending, and if you fight Geese you get the Geese ending. Period. That's pretty disappointing.
One of the main differences is the inclusion of SNK characters. While these characters have never been in a SF game before, they are not "new" characters, per se, and have been tuned down. Several of them are missing moves that made them far more competitive fighters. Case in point: Geese has none of his offensive attacks other than the ground waves. Geese is supposed to be a bad-ass, take-no-prisoners head basher, but in Capcom vs SNK he's sort of a cupcake.
Personally, I would have rather just seen a whole bunch of new characters instead of a bunch of recycled SNK guys. However, some of the SNK guys are really cool, and have a new style of appearance and gameplay that hasn't ever been seen in a Street Fighter game.
Another "major" difference is the implementation of the 'groove' system. With this system, you choose between the Capcom or the SNK groove, the only difference being how you power up your super bar. If you pick the Capcom groove, your power bar works exactly like it did in Street Fighter Alpha 3. There are three levels of power which get charged up as you attack. If you pick the SNK groove, you charge your super bar by holding down the fierce punch and roundhouse kick buttons at the same time. Your bar fills up rapidly, but leaves you vulnerable to attack. When your bar is at the max level in the SNK groove, your regular attacks become stronger. Big deal.
Like Marvel Vs Capcom 2, the medium attacks have been done away with. I hate this, mainly because the medium attacks aren't really gone, they just share a button with the strongest attacks - depending on which direction you're pressing on the D-pad, your attack will either be medium or hard. I have no idea why this change was made. Maybe it was in deference to the awkward six-button situation on the DC controller, but in any case, it just plain sucks.
Other than that, the control scheme is exactly like SFA 3, except for the inclusion of a new rolling move which can be executed by pressing the light attack buttons at the same time. This move makes the player step or roll through the opponent or any objects, and is usually perfect for setting up a throw. While this new move adds all sorts of strategy to the game, it makes high-level player vs CPU matches nearly impossible, as the computer can roll and throw and do moves and stuff so well that it's nearly impossible to keep up.
Sadly, the problems aren't over yet. The "Secret Mode" takes away any incentive to beat the game at high levels (unless you just want to fight some really cheap CPU opponents). This is the worst idea to be implemented in a Street Fighter game, ever.
Basically, everything you can unlock in the game (levels, hidden characters) is sold in the "Secret Shop" for a certain amount of points. These points are earned by beating the game. No matter what difficulty level you beat the game on, you always get the same amount of points. This leads to long hours of tedious, repetetive gameplay just to unlock secrets that aren't even worth unlocking. There is only one secret, in my opinion, that is absolutely worth unlocking, and that is the ability to change up the point system.
Ahhh, the point system. The worst idea to be implemented into a Street Fighter game since, golly, the secret mode! Two horrible ideas in one game! Capcom, you shouldn't have! The point system is basically a handicap system that assigns point values to characters. Some characters are worth one point (they get hurt fast and hit like sissies), and others, like Evil Ryu, are worth four. Technically speaking, Evil Ryu against Blanca, Cami, Sakura and Dhalsim should be an even match.
The point system could have made the game really interesting. If the player had the ability to decide the strengths of his characters and formulate a deeply customized team, it would rock. And you can do that - provided you unlock that one, damned secret. Otherwise, all the one point players totally suck and will continue to blow donkeys until you buckle down and unlock that one secret...which I have no idea how to do, because you can't just buy secrets, you've got to unlock them first.
Perhaps you're thinking, "That doesn't sound so bad. I just wouldn't buy any of the sorry secrets and grab the cool ones in no time." Poor, naive gamer - you can't unlock any of the hidden characters until you unlock at least half of the lame, extra versions of the same old characters. I spell it D-O-H.
To be fair, the graphics are pretty solid. Good animation and cool lighting effects on all the projectile and flame-type attacks are a nice addition. The backgrounds are well done and the stages even have cutesy intros. Some of the characters are really well drawn, while some look horrible. The sound, on the other hand is pretty good.
While Capcom vs SNK certainly adds some flavor to the Street Fighter pot, it doesn't change the main course at all. Too bad, considering what this game could have been.