Round 2....million! Fiiiight!
Capcom seems to have devised a new strategy for selling games. The plan? Take the patented Street Fighter 2D fighting genre and spruce it up by pitting different fighters from different game series against one another. You know - Capcom vs. SNK, Marvel vs. Capcom, Care Bears vs. Rainbow Brite, etc. Don't worry about quality, though. Just toss in a few characters and get the saliva flowing for the sequel.
Then just take the basic idea introduced in the first game and load it up with tons of new characters, extra-cool features, and right the annoying wrongs. Sound familiar? Well, that's Capcom's latest and greatest fighter for the PS2, Capcom vs. SNK 2. This game is superior to its predecessor, with greater choices and deeper characters, even if some of the fighters themselves have never been more poorly rendered.
Capcom vs. SNK 2 uses 2.5D backgrounds in the same vein as Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but with games like DoA3 lurking around, such quasi-3D backgrounds just don't cut it anymore. They're simply an illusion meant to distract you from the fact that nothing is interactive other than the fighters.
This wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't such a huge contrast between the beautifully rendered 3D backgrounds and the ugly, grainy 2D fighters. This poor display is more shocking than a radio in a bathtub. While most of the characters look passable, some of them, like Cammy, look horrible all the time. What happened, Capcom? Cammy used to be awesome - why have you disfigured her so?
On the flipside, Capcom fighter gameplay has never been deeper, with more "grooves" than ever before (grooves are akin to gameplay 'styles'). Three of the grooves are attributable to past Capcom games like Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Double Impact, while three others belong to SNK games. While the three SF grooves are pretty standard, the inclusion of the three SNK grooves give a relative SNK rookie a lot of new ideas to poke around with, like being able to pull off unlimited super-moves once health is in the red. Shun goku satsu!
While a few of the characters in Capcom vs. SNK were decent, several of the SNK fighters had slim move lists, tipping the balance of power toward the Capcom warriors. This time, SNK is back with a vengeance. Several of the new SNK characters not only kick Ryu ass, but also have greater character depth, like the surgically sharp Hibiki.
The most annoying thing about the original Capcom vs. SNK was the fact that certain players had certain point values assigned to them, making for some uneven matches. Fortunately in the latest installment, you can choose whether or not you want the matches to be One on One, Three on Three, or Ratioed. However, even if you choose the Ratio matches, you still get to decide who retains what point value.
Unlocking the hidden characters (there aren't many of them, though) is more intuitively handled with a system very similar to that of the World mode in SFA3. You basically try to kick ass in creative ways, rack up a bunch of points, and hope one of the hidden bosses challenges you at the end of the game.
The endings, like those in the original, are limited to only a few possible outcomes. However, the integration of a possible boss fight within the endings adds a little tension and a bit of length.
Capcom vs. SNK 2 also comes with a color editing feature that allows you to tweak just about every aspect of each fighter's shading, plus an unlockable groove editing feature in which you can create new grooves based on your preferences (although if you prefer invulnerability and Spider-speed, you'll be sorely disappointed).
The sound is also a notch above the rest, with a genuinely entertaining cheesy announcer guy and some cool battle tracks. The FX themselves are the same as always, but the better tunes and psychotic hype-guy make this one of more aurally impressive Capcom games to date.
Capcom vs. SNK 2 has a few nifty new features, but is ultimately too much like many of the Capcom fighters that have come before it. There are plenty of modes and options, an easily tweakable color scheme and tons of fighters, but this old taste is getting a little stale. This a fighter worth only a rental if you own any other recent Street Fighter game.