An incredible Who's Who of fighting game superstars is largely squandered on SVC Chaos for the Xbox, which is an Xbox Live-enabled port of a NeoGeo fighting game. Much like the Capcom-developed Capcom vs. SNK games, SVC Chaos combines tons of different characters from each publisher's respective decades-old fighting game franchises, and lets them (and you) have at it in traditional one-on-one martial arts matches. The results really should have been great, especially since SNK really tends to do a much better job of putting together fast-paced, responsive, and complex fighting action than what's on display here. Diehard fans of some of these characters will find some redeeming value in this game just from seeing some of their old favorites with updated appearances and voices, but even they won't escape disappointment. Not only does SVC Chaos simply not play particularly well by the standards of 2D fighting games, but also the game's implementation of Xbox Live support is flawed.
SVC Chaos features an excellent cast of characters, but its gameplay doesn't live up to them.
The main problem with the Live support is that you can't choose to have a rematch against the other player once a fight is over. That means, as soon as you win or lose, you're first awkwardly prompted either to save a replay of the match or not, and then you're unceremoniously dropped at the Xbox Live main menu, where you can choose from the standard quick match and optimatch features all over again. Finding an opponent via quick match or optimatch really doesn't take that long, but the inability to easily continue playing against the same opponent after one match seems like a huge oversight. It's frustrating, especially since the handful of other online-enabled Xbox Live fighting games all conveniently let you rematch your opponent. Fortunately, there's the option to enter into a player lobby, in which you can invite and then subsequently reinvite players for a match. This is the best way to quickly play some bouts. Online play itself is functional, though the action is vulnerable to lag, which causes the controls (even on the character select screen) to sometimes feel finicky and unresponsive.
For what it's worth, there are a few decent options available when playing online, such as limiting the roster of characters only to the Capcom or SNK side, or preventing the use of some of the game's more powerful "hidden" characters (guys like Shin Akuma and SVC Chaos' very own "Violent Ken"--they normally appear on the character select screen when you press and hold the right shoulder button). And, despite the problems with the Live functionality and in the actual gameplay, SVC Chaos can still be pretty fun if you find yourself pitted against a similarly skilled opponent.
Nevertheless, the sorts of longtime fighting game fans who'd be interested in this game will be quick to pick up on the flaws in the fighting mechanics. Simply put, the game feels rushed. The fundamentals of any good fighting game--namely, the collision detection, which is to say, the stuff that happens when one character hits another character--just aren't very well implemented in SVC Chaos. Punches and kicks may look good in still frames but they just have a sloppy feel to them in practice. There's little feedback to differentiate between whether you've completely whiffed an attack, hit the opponent, or had the attack blocked by the opponent. Attacks in the game just don't have any weight to them--something that's most readily apparent and disappointing as when you finish off an opponent with a powerful special move of some sort, only to see him or her flop down to the ground without any kind of flash or drama. It's just like any other knockdown during the course of a match. So, there's no satisfaction to be found in finishing off an opponent with flair. In fact, ironically, ending a fight with just a simple jab tends to be much more impressive than doing it with a stronger move, because at least that way there's a special "slump to the ground" animation that you'll get to see.
The action has a flat, unrefined feel to it.
As mentioned, SVC Chaos' cast of characters is obviously the main attraction, although little care seems to have been given to ensure that the fighters were appropriately balanced. However, the usual suspects are here, including Street Fighter's Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, and Guile, and King of Fighters' Kyo and Iori, and Fatal Fury's Terry and Mai. Some surprising additions include Samurai Shodown II's Genjuro and DarkStalkers' Demitri, as well as King of Fighters' Athena, who is seen in her goddess outfit from the original 1986 arcade game in which she appeared. The nearly three dozen different characters in the game ultimately comprise an exciting selection of fighters, but, in another of the game's rather glaring omissions, there are very few grappler-type characters--there's really only one. Where are Street Fighter's Zangief and King of Fighters' Goro? Actually, you might suspect that the absence of grapplers has more to do with the limitations of the combat system rather than with a mere oversight. Throws are just one of the aspects of play that are awkwardly handled by SVC Chaos.