Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
Introduction:When you talk about fighting games it doesn’t get bigger then Soul Calibur. Soul Calibur II is the sequel to the Sega Dreamcast fighter which has held the title as best 3d fighter in many minds rivaled by only by the Virtual Fighter series. Finally the Dreamcast famed fighter has come to life for this generation’s consoles and will be held in the same appraise as it always has.
The Game:The first thing you will notice about Soul Calibur II is that the fighting involves weapons of all different types, plus the ability to use hand to hand combat. The weapons are a huge part of the game and give Soul Calibur II an edge over conventional hand to hand fighters being fresh and innovative. If you’re not too familiar with this game already it will awe you in the way it flows and connects with the use of all the different weapon sizes and attributes.
The game is a disputed button masher to some, but there is a moderate learning curve and a good deal of techniques and combos to memorize. The gameplay is quickly paced and at times can become frantic and intense which are perfect qualities for a fighting game. Your reactions have to be spot on if you want to take on the AI at its top level, or even your friends who have the touch of luck. This game posed to be more challenging then I thought it would be. A fighter that is brings the fight to you is always very welcoming.
Now to the cast of Soul Calibur II. There are 20 characters which can use, some which have to be unlocked. And as you already know a special character has been added to each consoles version. On the Xbox you will have Spawn. The arguments flair on the message boards about which add-on is the best, but when you see Spawn in the game you will see how perfectly his ora fits into the Soul Calibur universe. Each character in the game has different attributes, fighting styles, and advantages over other opponents. The game is balanced with females, males, and monsters. Each character has different types of weapons with varying ranges and offence and defensive attributes, different body types and speeds; all this adds a strategic choice when picking your fighter to do battle. The best advice I would give is playing the fast against the slow, and pick a few fighters to specialize in so you can use them to overcome the odds. Downtowns Picks are: Raphael, Spawn and Talim.
Graphics & Sound:The graphics in Soul Calibur II are at the top of their game. Compared to other fighters you could closely pin it against Dead or Alive graphic prowess. The man habiliment in Soul Calibur is that is runs at a solid frame rate and doesn’t jerk for every second is an opportunity. The characters are extremely detailed and polished, as well as overly imaginative. The environments very, but mostly are small areas, where you can be pushed off the edge to failure. The Xbox can be played at 720p with Soul Calibur II which bumps up the polish of the game. There a plenty of extra lighting effects and eye candy to make everyone happy. The character models and animations are beautifully done, you could say flawless. Soul Calibur II keeps a good medium and doesn’t overdue the graphics department as I’m sure they could. They keep it realistic to there universe and make this one of the most stunning Xbox titles to date.
The sound is good in Soul Calibur keeping in real Xbox tradition in 5.1 sound. The clangs of the weapons are great, as well as the voice acting of the characters. The background is filled with atmospheric ambiance and has an original soundtrack. The soundtrack contains mostly stringed oriented pieces with give the game a regal and interesting aurora. Like the graphics the sound is perfect and not overdone, and sounds great with a surround sound system.
Innovation:Soul Calibur II is caught in the sequel trap. A sequel is meant to capture the essisance of the original and bring the same gameplay back, but on a higher level. Soul Calibur II keeps the game in vain of the original and stayed in sequel tradition. The game has made many improvements and updated the game from the first one, although it doesn’t jump the genre by any new leaps or bounds. Soul Calibur is innovative compared to other games of the same category, and exceeds in innovating itself a bit from the original. The game has a bunch of new characters, weapons and moves which brings something new to the pot.
Now Soul Calibur II is innovative compared to most of the other fighters that have been out recently for the Xbox. The main attraction would be a fighting game with weapons, the weapons and the ability to change up your weapon is awesome, and innovative. More fighters should fallow suit and offer more customization to the characters. Why not? And weapons are the best way to do this. The game has a great and time consuming first player experience called ‘Weapon Master’. This is where all other fighters fail by having weak and quick story modes that offer nothing new. The ‘Weapon Master’ mode puts you in the story and gives you many options and objectives to complete. I felt the dungeons where a great bonus as well as the different combats conditions. IE Wind pushing you towards the edges, Invisible Opponents, Interactive environment (exploding walls and floors) and the boss characters.
Mojo:Spawn! Damn right, some of you are sick of McFarlane’s hell minion, but not me. He is a great addition to the Xbox version of the game. What can you say this game is the definition of mojo. Massively cool characters, huge impressive powerful weapons, upgrades, and a plethora of modes. Bickity Blam! This sucka takes away from everything else when it’s on your tube. I didn’t even notice that Cameron Diaz was sitting next to me. Move over baby, its time for some killin’ (umm, maybe I need help) How cool is Nightmare? And the whole cast of Soul Calibur 2. Sure the ladies in the game are almost full clothed, but they still have all the moves. This game has the mojo baby. Slammin’
Lowdown:Soul Calibur II is a refined version of the original game; of course any fans of fighting games are going to eat this up. It would be very hard to deny the great package Namco has put together. The Xbox finally has a game up to and exceeding Dead or Alive 3. It only took a few years, but Soul Calibur II is outstanding. Get this baby, and slice em’ all to they fall.
Gameplay: 10, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 10. Final: 10
GOTY AWARD:BEST FIGHTING GAME OF 2003
GOTY RUNNER-UP:BEST GRAPHICS IN 2003