Namco
Namco
Fighting
1-2
08.26.03

Soul Calibur II


Soul Calibur is back, and the soul still burns! When released on the Dreamcast in 1999, Soul Calibur touched many fighting fans. If you haven't seen or heard about this series by now, now is the time for next generations console gamers to see what all the commotion is about. Namco's weapons based fighter is back.

Us Xbox gamers lucked out, we got the best version of Soul Calibur II, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Let them talk all they want, but do they have Spawn? No. I'm not even a huge fan of Spawn, but let me tell you, he is the most bad-ass fighter in the entire game. The PS2 version has a character from Tekken, and the Gamecube has Link. Spawn will kick both of their asses! Soul Calibur tells the story about how each character fights for the evil sword, Soul Edge.

Gameplay

Just like the first Soul Calibur, the gameplay is the strong point. It plays almost exactly the same as the original. There are 15 characters to choose from right from the start, and Spawn is one of them. Most of the old cast of characters still lies within the game, but there are also a slew of new and particularly unique characters. No need to worry, Mitsurugi, Voldo, Nightmare, Ivy, Kilik, and Maxi are all here. The new characters are where it's at. Besides Spawn, there is Necrid, Raphael, Cassandra, Talim, plus a few others.

The game menu is broken down into a lot of sections. The five main ones are Original, Extra, Weapon Master, Museum, and then Options. Original mode includes Arcade, VS, Time Attack, Survival, Team Battle, VS Team Battle, and Practice. The Extra mode is where you can select the new weapons that you unlocked and use them in the game.

Every time you beat the game with a different character you get his or her profile unlocked in the "Museum". The profile consists of useful information if you care about where your favorite character comes from, or how old he or she is. There are also a few paragraphs that tell a little history about each. You'll be able to view the selected characters stage, as well as listen to all the "Voices" for each character.

The main arcade mode is not the only place to unlock things within the game. The Weapon Master mode is also a main mode to unlock things. Here you earn gold and experience, and can buy certain weapons. You play through chapters, and there quite a lot to read if you get really into it, but the reading can easily be dismissed. This is the mode of play that would be the bulk in terms of playing time. There's over 200 weapons to unlock and use. The Team Battle mode is great to play because you pick 3 of your best fighters, and then go at it until someone loses all of their fighters to your sword.

All the moves and combinations are accessible through a list by pausing during a match. The Practice mode is the best way to learn the game. Your opponent will just stand there while you beat him to death. It will also tell you how much damage you are doing.

The control is exactly the same as it was on Dreamcast, and if you played SC, SCII will feel very similar. There is no jump button, but you can jump toward your opponent and attack. There just really isn't any way to jump over your opponent. The A button is used as the guard button. You can guard regular, or by press down and A, you can guard low attacks. X is the horizontal strike, and Y is the vertical strike button. For the kick button, you use B. There are also the "shortcut" commands. The black button is equal to X+Y, while the right trigger is the same as X+Y+B. A "Soul Charge" is performed by pressing the right trigger, which can make your attacks more damaging. Before a battle starts, you can do a quick taunt to your opponent by pressing any button. The Xbox controller is similar to the Dreamcast one, so it's really easy to get used to if you ever played SC on DC.

The game is not hard to beat, and it can be done with any character in about 15 minutes. There are plenty of difficulty levels to mess around with though, and they can be a lot tougher then the default settings.

Graphics

A lot of the characters from the first Soul Calibur look the same from Dreamcast, with better textures of course, and many of them sport new outfits. The stages and backgrounds in Soul Calibur II are full of color, and have many details to be looked at. The reflections from sparks of wicked hits, and the wind effects on the character's clothes all add up to make this game graphically remarkable. If there were one thing that I thought they could have added to this game it would be blood. There is none at all, but other then that, there is nothing that I can find wrong with the graphics.

I also got the chance to briefly play the other 2 versions of this game. The Xbox version is brighter, colorful, and it has higher quality textures then the PS2 and Gamecube versions. They are not terrible, but it makes you wonder why they just didn't make this game an Xbox Exclusive.

Sound

The music is heart-pounding, and is perfect for this nonstop action fighter. All the audio is well composed, and it feels the way it should feel. All of the character voice acting is in English, and Spawn will always let his opponent know that he is "pissed off". The "announcer" now pronounces some of the fighters differently then he did in the first SC, but that doesn't mean he's still doesn't sound powerful.

Bottom Line:

If you missed the first round, then Soul Calibur II is a must have for your Xbox library. With the best graphics in a fighting game since DOA3, no other game can really compare to Soul Calibur 2. Especially since the gameplay is top notch. Even though the endings are a little bit generic and boring, Soul Calibur II is a well-rounded fighter, with virtually no flaws. This game appeals to both the fighting fan, and the general videogame fan. Check this game out.

-Steve Melanson




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