Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Soul Calibur II

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

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Soul Calibur launched as the descendant of Soul Blade on the DreamCast to much admiration. A follow-up was ensured, but the discontinuation of DreamCast hardware and subsiding of the Arcade market, Namco’s brutal battler had to find a new home. With three power-hungry beasts on the market, Namco chose to deliver three individual titles under the same name. Soul Calibur II represented a different take on the title on each format, extensively highlighted by the individual characters – GameCube fans have Link, while Xbox players battle with Spawn and PlayStation2 players have the weapon-less Heihachi from the Tekken series.

As far as fighting games go, Soul Calibur II’s story is actually quite good. As short-lived as it maybe, it is still one of the best stories recent fighting games have offered, on par with even the Dead Or Alive series. Each Electronic Theatre Imageindividual character has their own ambitions for claiming the Soul Edge (the blade which the game revolves around), and there is nothing complicated about that. Not to mention that there are small personal stories that are interlocked between characters, which adds a lot more depth to what would almost be a plain arcade fighter. In the case of the Fighter genre, stories can’t be complicated, because it takes away from the action. In the case of Soul Calibur II, a literate vignette explains a sort of background to each character as you enter their respective stages. There is nothing better than actually hearing why you are fighting your opponent, rather than just going head-to-head, mano-a-mano, for no reason what so ever.

The graphics featured in the GameCube release are still astounding. Crisp, clear backdrops shimmering with detail, astonishing real-time lighting and some of the best character animation seen on this generation. The loading times are practically non-existent and the variety of characters and arenas is often bewildering.

The title moves closer to Nintendo’s own current approach, running on the theory that the game can actually be picked up and have the basics learnt within the first five minutes by anyone who decides to play it. There is Electronic Theatre Imagealways one key thing that developers have to do in order to please all audiences and that is make the game playable for all people, including the casual gamer. The GameCube control setup is far simpler and extensively easier to use than most current titles, not to mention they are also very responsive. The GC controls are so well placed, that it’s so easy to pull off any combo in the command list.

There are so many modes of play, just like in the other Soul titles; there is plenty of replayability to this game. There are 10 weapons for each character to unlock, and lots of costumes. There are also several modes to unlock in the extras menu, where you can unlock other delicious goodies like extra stages. There is so much to unlock in this game, it could take you weeks of straight playing to unlockElectronic Theatre Image them all. A Weapon Master mode that allows you to track down new weapons by earning gold and experience adds flavour to the title, and a myriad of new and interesting game modes that allow for the unlocking of hidden stages and other treasures.

This game is the perfect depiction of what a fighting game should be. Nintendo and Namco got it right this time, and we now have a game that towers over all other fighting games to date. The fact that there is so much to this game, and that it is so in depth, not to mention a hell of a lot of fun to play, this game will go to the top of anyone’s list of fighting game, even if they only have the slightest interest in fighters. You really need to pick this game up, you won’t be disappointed.

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