The Evolution fighting game tournament is an annual competition that crowns champions in the hottest console fighting games. The 2004 tournament featured Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Capcom vs. SNK 2, Guilty Gear X2 #Reload, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, Tekken 4, Tekken Tag Tournament, Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution, and Soul Calibur II. This four-disc DVD set covers all of the finals matches for every game as well as bonus matches and more.
The presentation of the games is very, very good. Other than having the names of the competitors on the screen (you can turn it off with the subtitle feature of your DVD player) the games look and sound just like they are being played on your TV screen. They dont look quite as sharp as they would if you were playing them yourself, of course, but these DVDs are about appreciating the skill of the players and the complexities of the games and not about pretty graphics. The discs are all double sided and youll find one game on each side of the four discs (SFIII and SSFIIT are both on one side). Most of the games have both the finals rounds as well as bonus matches taken from the tournament. The set also includes a walk around of the tournament site, interviews with the participants, and video footage of the finals for each games. Overall, there is around 16 hours of footage across the four discs so there is a lot to see here.
Things Could Be Better ...
I have some very specific criticisms of the DVDs as well as the tournament itself. Now, I havent competed in this tournament and I dont know all of the specifics of everything, but with a few changes I think things could be better. First off, the menu navigation for each match features the names of the competitors. Add in what characters they are using and things would be 10x better. Another big issue I have with the tournament itself is that everyone uses the same characters constantly and it becomes really boring to watch after a while. Does it really make you the best in the world in a game when you only know how to use one character? I dont think so. Everyone uses the cheapest and easiest characters in every game and I find that really, really lame. People should switch characters in every fight. My final complaint about the DVDs is that they were obviously created with the tournament participants in mind as the target audience. That is fine, but I think there is a much wider audience for DVD sets like this. Gamers appreciate demonstrations of skill and I think if these DVDs were more accessible to everyone and not just the hardcore the tournament itself and the content of the DVDs would be a lot better.
As far as the actual matches themselves go, Evolution 2k4 will blow you away. If you have any interest in the nine games featured in the tournament, I guarantee you that you will learn something about your favorite game that you didnt even know you could do before. The most important thing that the Evolution DVDs do is that they will inspire you to pick up a controller (or your favorite arcade stick) and start playing. Youll want to try all of the new moves and techniques that you just saw and that is definitely good times.
All in all, the Evolution 2k4 DVDs make for some very interesting viewing for hardcore fighting game fans. It isnt all that cool to watch everyone use the same characters over and over again (expect to see Magneto, Storm, and Sentinel a LOT in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, for example) but you will still be able to learn something. The DVDs are actually split into two different sets 2D fighters and 3D fighters and you can get one set for $37.95 or both for $68.40. That is quite a bit of money to spend on watching other people play games and if it was less a lot more people would get them (and would then probably compete in the tournament the next year), but if you are a hardcore fighting game fan I think youll be happy with your purchase. Between the cost and the content, these DVDs definitely arent for everyone. Fighting fans will get a kick out of it, but if you are a casual fan with some money burning a hole in your pocket give it a try and maybe it will inspire you to become more serious.