The King of Fighters 02/03 packs in a $600 value for less than $40, so if nothing else, it's one hell of a deal. This two-disc set includes direct ports of two fighting games that originated on the NeoGeo hardware, the longest-lasting video game system there ever was. So what these games may lack in graphical prowess, they more than make up for in spirit and underlying quality. Specifically, what you get here are two of the more recent installments of SNK's long-running King of Fighters series, which started more than 10 years ago and soon evolved to become the company's flagship franchise during the late '90s. The King of Fighters series has always offered deep, technical, fast-paced gameplay and big casts of memorable characters brimming with lots of personality, and both the 2002 and 2003 installments are exemplary of this. What's more, the Xbox version of this package exclusively features online play for both games--though an inconsistent implementation makes this otherwise exciting addition a little disappointing.
Each of these fine fighting games retailed for hundreds of dollars when they were first released a few years ago. Now you can have them both for less than the price of your average Xbox game.
The King of Fighters series doesn't tend to drastically change from one yearly installment to the next, but the 2002 and 2003 editions are probably more different than any other two back-to-back installments in the series. This is completely to the benefit of this package, since it means you'll be getting two fairly different experiences in one DVD case. Unfortunately, one of these differences is in the way in which online play was integrated into the games. In short, it's pretty good in 2003, and pretty bad in 2002. 2002's online gameplay feels laggy and unresponsive, even on a fast connection, making it difficult to adjust to the timing of even simpler combos and escape moves. It also lacks a rematch feature, so as soon as you finish a fight with your opponent, you're booted back out to the Xbox Live menu. This same flawed implementation may bring back bitter memories of SNK's own SVC Chaos, which suffered from the same problems.
Inexplicably, then, online gameplay in The King of Fighters 2003 is just fine. You can look forward to the same responsive controls as you'd normally expect, and you and your opponent can keep rematching each other as many times as you like. It's frustrating that one of these games performs so much better online than the other, especially since 2002 is arguably the better of the two games. Still, better that one of the games plays well online than neither. But if you're specifically looking to play 2002 online, caveat emptor. It's not unplayable, but it's not ideal either.