Soul Calibur II

Games - Soul Calibur II Review PS2
Soul Calibur II Review PS2
Soul Calibur II is the second coming of the greatest and flawless fighting game ever which was only seen on the Sega Dreamcast. Although there was a lesser version available on the PSONE called Soul Edge. The question is, can you make one of the greatest games ever made even better? The answer is yes but it may not feel as revolutionary as the original as you have seen most of it before.

The first real difference you will notice between Soul Calibur II and the original will be cosmetic. The visuals have been improved upon but most of the animations have remained the same. Characters will appear different as will the fully three dimensional fighting arenas. So when playing Soul Calibur II you may feel that you have been here before even though the surroundings are different. The fighting system itself has not changed as the same conventions seem to apply. You still have the four buttons for vertical slash, horizontal slash, kick and guard. Horizontal attacks will work better against an opponent that is constantly side stepping while the vertical attack will usually work against an opponent using a horizontal attack. On top of this you have the blocking and attacking conventions. Low attacks will hit a high blocking opponent while mid attacks will hit a low blocking fighter and the high attack will hit a mid blocking opponent. These are the basics of the two tier system which is what made Soul Calibur so great in the first place and many regard it to be flawless. There are other additions to this system as fighters can pull of deflection moves which deflect the attack of the opposing player, plus all players have the ability to use the soul charge which allows the player to power up their attacks. Basically this is an extremely comprehensive fighting system that has been tried and tested.

The fighting system has been tweaked in Soul Calibur II to account for crouching and moving around, but it has to be said it is only the extremely experienced players will notice these improvements. The PS2 controller is perfectly suited to Soul Calibur II as it is for all fighting games. All of the characters from the original return with most of the special moves still intact. So if you played the original you shouldn't have any problems pulling off the combos and using the same tactics. There are a number of new characters but only two are completely new Raphael the fencer and Talim who is incredibly quick and she uses two blades. Each version of the game on the various systems features a unique character. The XBOX version gets Spawn from Todd McFarlane's comic books. PS2 gets Heihachi Mishima from the Tekken series and the GameCube gets one of Nintendo's favourites Link from the Zelda series. Spawn has the limited ability to fly and he can inflict a huge amount of damage with his axe. Heihachi has all the moves he possessed in the Tekken series but he does look better than ever in Soul Calibur II. Finally Link has the ability to use his bow and arrow, boomerang and bombs. At the end of the day it is the characters that make the difference between the three console versions.

Soul Calibur II has a mode called Weapon Master which is a cross between a story mode and a mission mode. To start with the Weapon Master mode will teach you the basics on combat and then further elaborating on this as you progress. Later on in the missions you will be faced with various conditions such as a low health meter or high winds that can blow you or your opponent off the edge of the ring. One thing that became a little frustrating and boring is the bucket loads of text that you are given to read in between levels. This could have been done in speech really as you will probably keep skipping the text after a couple of levels. As you progress you will unlock new features in the game and you will also earn gold so you can buy new weapons for all of your fighters. When playing the Weapon Master mode you don't have to complete the entire thing with one character or weapon you may swap and change as you see fit along the way. This ability to acquire new weapons for each character comes from the first game in the series Soul Edge or Soul Blade. Each weapon will have its own pros and cons as some may be incredibly powerful yet a little too big and slow to use while others may offer greater offensive properties while not having so great defensive properties. There are loads of other extras to collect including art work, character profiles, new

 
Games - Soul Calibur II Review PS2
Games - Soul Calibur II Review PS2
Games - Soul Calibur II Review PS2
Games - Soul Calibur II Review PS2

levels and character outfits and so on. All this is a great addition to Soul Calibur II and it definitely increases the games longevity in the single player mode. Unfortunately Soul Calibur II does not have online play which is a real shame as it could have been the defining moment for the series.

Playing Soul Calibur against the computer is a very challenging prospect on the more difficult settings. There are ways to break down the AI but you will find it tough. You can't beat playing Soul Calibur II against another human player of course. Soul Calibur II is easy to pick up and play for the novice player yet fantastically challenging for the more experienced player. The training mode offers the ability to learn all the special moves for each character but it won't teach you how to use the moves and the tactics, that bit is for you to work out yourself. Never the less having a good arsenal of moves is very important if you want to become a decent fighter.

Graphically Soul Calibur II is impressive on all versions. The frame rate is rock steady at 60 frames per second for 99.9% of the time but you may feel or see a slight change occasionally. All the characters move in a very realistic manner but Namco have opted to give the characters a slightly less realistic appearance opting for a more Japanese cartoon look. All the clothes and hair move in the wind which is a very nice touch and it finishes of the presentation with style.

Soul Calibur II also sounds very good indeed. The characters initially speak in English as default but this can be changed so they speak in Japanese as it makes the game feel and obviously sound more authentic but saying that the English voiceovers are not bad at all. The sound track has real flair and adds to the great on screen action. The sound effects themselves are very similar to those from the original Soul Calibur so there is not much of a change here.

Soul Calibur II really reinforces how good the original Dreamcast version was, but now it has been brought into the 21st century it has been improved upon with the fast action and great visuals. Unfortunately people are not as excited about this new edition because it doesn't break new ground as the original did. It certainly is better in many ways than the original and it keeps all the innovative fighting conventions in the game-play that made the original such a huge success. It s the best looking fighting game to date and if you own a GameCube or XBOX this is a must have as noting else comes close. On the PS2 however there is much more competition in the form of the simply brilliant Tekken 4 and technically brilliant Virtua Fighter 4, it comes down to personal preference but at the moment Soul Calibur II is certainly my favourite fighter. A must have addition to anyone's games library.

9.0 out of 10

 

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