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SNK Vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos (Xbox)

By Michael Palisano

Taking the legendary companies' brawling series to another new cross-over, the release of SNK Vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos remakes the series with a distinctive SNK feel. The game's mixture of characters, brilliant 2D design and deep moves lists, with new combo attacks and a fantastic Exceed move, adds to the strategy and depth. SNK vs. Capcom's play balance is excellent, as you'd expect, but the real fun of the game lies in the new online modes that allow you to battle other players using Xbox Live. This is an excellent cross-over, and a definite must-own for fans of either companies' fighting titles.

Players who long-dreamed of a cross-over title featuring the 2D characters of Capcom and SNK have had plenty of reasons to celebrate over the past few years, as both companies' characters starred in the successful Capcom vs. SNK series in the arcades and home consoles over these past few years. The games received a warm welcome from fans on both sides of the fighting chasm, but the SNK style seems to have taken a back seat. While the Capcom developed titles were successful, the company has largely taken the upper hand with the past few cross-over fighting games. Now, at long last the developers at SNK Playmore have taken the lead back with the release of SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, the latest cross-over between the companies' legendary fighting squads. Featuring 17 characters from each company for a total of 34, this has an excellent play balance with a feel that's much more in the SNK camp this time around. Many of the characters who appear here are the expected stars such as Chun-Li and Ryu from the Capcom side and Iori Yugami, Terry Brogard and Geese Howard on the SNK team. However, there are also a number of exclusive characters like Mega Man, Red Arremer from Capcom and Shiki and Athena on the SNK side. Additionally, players can unlock a number of hidden characters from some classic fighting series including Samurai Shodown, King of Fighters and Fatal Fury. The roster this time is quite extensive, giving SVC Chaos a well-rounded lot of fighters. There are more than enough characters in the game to pose a significant challenge, and the game's finely tuned gameplay keeps things quite challenging throughout, though some of the boss battles seem excessively difficult.

SNK Vs. Capcom's roster is extensive, but the depth here is likewise impressive. Each fighter has an extensive moves list that includes a wide array of standard, special, combo and super moves. These allow you plenty of versatility but the game also includes some more advanced techniques. Using the Forward Ground Step move allows players to time their attacks much more effectively, allowing for a more sophisticated attack strategy. During the battles, players can use their power-gauge to perform super combos, with three powers levels for each character. Players can also use the new Exceed moves. These incredibly powerful combos let you inflict a massive amount of damage on opponents. The fighting itself is straightforward and should pose little problem for veterans of either company's series. The moves themselves are easy to accomplish thanks to the responsive controls, which makes performing even some of the most complicated moves simple. Getting through the rounds is fairly simple, and most of the opposing characters' AI is smart enough to pose a challenge, though not excessively difficult. This changes with the boss battles, so don't go in unprepared. Learning the bosses' patterns and finding their weaknesses will take a lot of time and patience, but they can be beaten if you're persistent. This gives the gameplay a uniquely SNK feel, emphasizing a grittier, more down to Earth style than the flashy, combo- heavy Capcom fighters feature. As expected, the gameplay itself offers some fast and frenetic play with lightning moves and combos. The standard battles are intense, but the real challenge in the game lies in the boss battles, which are incredibly challenging. SNK vs. Capcom features not one but three different bosses, which adds plenty of challenge to the gameplay.

In addition to the standard single-player arcade and versus modes, the game also features a number of extra modes including Survival mode, where you have to withstand an assault by a seemingly endless array of foes. These are usually single fall matches, so you have little room for error. Players can also view artwork in the Gallery mode and save battles to view again in Replay mode. For die-hard players, SVC Chaos also includes a special Color Edit mode, where you can customize your characters' appearance with clothing, skin and hair able to be changed. These modes offer you exactly what you'd expect in a traditional 2D fighter, but SVC Chaos goes beyond this with the addition of Xbox Live support. Logging on is quite simple using the game's excellent interface. Once logged in, you can explore the lobby and chat with other players, then set up a match with another player. You can choose to enter a quick match with predetermined rules or set up a customized round where you set the rules. Players can also set up players' lists, so they can fight against others online and more. Using the Xbox Live service makes the game feel much more competitive, recreating the fun of the arcade where you can challenge and dominate random opponents. It makes for much less predictable yet more challenging matches. While this has become a relatively standard feature in fighting games recently, the online support is an excellent addition to an already solid gaming experience.

From a visual standpoint, SVC Chaos veers towards the grittier, more realistic SNK look, giving the Capcom characters a darker feel that's more consistent with the SNK universe. The game takes classic approach to the backgrounds. They look great with standard 2D environments instead of the mixture of 2D with 3D objects that popularized the Capcom developed cross-overs. The use of these 2D sprites makes things feel a bit dated but most harcdcore gamers will most likely appreciate the more traditional approach. SVC Chaos benefits from the Xbox technology with the fast loading battles making for a seamless experience. While the game probably won't appeal to the mass market used to dazzling graphics and button mashing action, SVC Chaos is a solidly entertaining fighter. It's traditional approach gives the gameplay plenty of depth with a generally superb character balance, extensive move list and challenging opponents. The addition of Xbox Live support is the icing on the cake that adds an entirely new dimension of depth and challenge to the experience. Overall, this solidly release is another outstanding fighting game that offers the traditional elements you'd expect with a few twists thrown in. SVC Chaos is an excellent title that's bound to please the hardcore audience with the hardcore fighting action they crave.

Grade: B

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