|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Arc System Works|
|Release: May 12, 2011|
|Players: 1-2, up to 8 Online|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence|
The game kind of looks wonky because they didn't add any new animations. Throws that should make a character crumple to the ground, like Tager's powerbomb forward throw, instead make them bounce across the screen. Moves don't do what you would think they would do by seeing their animations, and, as a result, it's harder to make combos without frame data or other external knowledge. In a sense, it's become a hardcore game, which doesn't do much for the longevity of the series.
From a hardcore perspective, however, I'm happy with CS2. Even though I'm frustrated that I have to learn my characters all over again—or switch to new ones—I feel like I'm not a victim of "cheap death syndrome" as often as I used to be. I feel like the notion of a one-hit death has been removed from the game, and there are lots of comeback opportunities for every character on the roster. Tiers are also far closer together, and problem characters are nowhere near as problematic as they were in CS1. Like I said, it's a better game, and it will probably take most players a while to realize that.
Outside of the gameplay, which is really the main reason for downloading the update, we have a few changes to other game modes. Most notable are the changes to online play, beginning with a generous reworking of the netcode. Originally, you needed to have a perfect connection (level 4) in order to play a decent game. However, now games are far more playable at level 3, 2, and even some level 1 connections. (But you'll still probably be hating yourself for dropping combos at level 1).
Arc System Works also integrated a number of new online options into the lobby system. However, in my book, one simple improvement tops them all: new canned messages. These one-off messages are basically used to send short emotes to the people you are playing with, and there are tons of new ones now. There are messages that mimic Ragna's "Gauntlet Hades!" quote. I never get tired of sending my opponents mashups like "Gauntlet Bathroom!" There's even a message that lets you ask your opponent if you want to stop playing Blaz and fire up some Arcana Heart. It's a nice touch.
Outside the online mode, the game's tutorial and challenge modes have been overhauled as well. Whereas the challenges originally catapulted you directly from learning special moves to learning hard-to-execute combos, they now teach you the basics of bread-and-butter combo execution by letting you learn one piece at a time. Combos will have the same start-up or ender across missions, allowing you to understand how each character operates gradually. It goes a long way to actually teaching you the game—far longer than CS1's challenge mode did.
Finally, there are some cosmetic touch-ups to the game as well, but they are mostly in audio form. Characters have new quotes that they didn't have before. When Ragna fights Hazama, he says, "They won't find your body." That's pretty badass. There are quite a few other quotes too, but, unfortunately, we don't get the new arcade announcer with this patch: she has to be downloaded separately as a paid voice pack.
Overall, I'd say CS2 is an improvement, but not one that will go over well with the dedicated fan base. I think it's about time that we turned our sights to a new Arc System Works game. Perhaps a new Guilty Gear?
Angelo M. D'Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer