Review by MrNobody721

"Namco's Ongoing Tale of Souls and Swords is a Winner"

Basic Game Information:

Soul Calibur II is a 3D fighting game. It is the third installment of the Soul Edge/Blade/Calibur series. The game was developed and published by Namco, and was released for the GameCube in America on August 27, 2003. The game can be played with one or two players, but has no online component.

SCII GC Style

Before I get to anything about the game in general, I thought that I would start off with the differences between the GC (GameCube) version of SCII (Soul Calibur II), and the other versions. The main difference you will find between this and the other versions is Link, GC's exclusive character (X-Box got Spawn and PS2 got Heihachi Mishima). When I first got the game I found Link pretty fun to play around with. Not only do you fight with your sword and shield, but you can also shoot arrows, throw your boomerang, or even throw bombs!!! Unfortunately all that is just for fun, because they are all pretty useless against anyone decent. Also, if you get into the game seriously you will find that Link is banned from most tournaments (all of the ones that Namco sponsors/approves of anyways), and that he is the most unsafe character in the game. Keep in mind that this will only apply to serious gamers, you casual gamers won't have to worry about this (as you most likely won't face anyone good enough to punish your moves) and for you Link will be just fine and most likely very fun.

Out of the three versions, GC is 2nd best in the graphics department…although the differences between the three versions aren't really that much. The GC version has no problem with loading times or lag (the PS2 version is really the only version where you may encounter some loading/lag times). Last, but not least, the GC definitely has the worst controller out of all of them. You may find some issues with this as the GC controller was definitely NOT built with the fighting genre in mind. The D-pad (which most people prefer to use with their fighters) is really too small. Also, the button layout is something that many people also have frequent problems with. I'll go ahead and say that the best way to solve your controller problems is to buy a PS2 controller converter or buy a stick to play the game with. Overall, I would say that for the causal gamer you will find the GC version to be the best version (mainly because of Link). For the more serious gamer I would say that the X-Box, or GC versions will do…although you will need a stick/PS2 converter for the GC version.

Graphics
The graphics for this game are simply great. The first thing that you will see (the intro scene), is well done and will most likely get you really excited to play the game (I know it got me excited)…esp. when you see Link's little insert in it. The character models are another spectacular aspect of the game. They all contain a lot of color, detail, and life. I was literally shocked when I first saw the models and how well-done they were (this was when it was released on the arcade though)…and the models haven't lost anything in the port to console. The arenas that you fight in are also extremely impressive. You most likely won't notice (because well, you tend not to when fighting an opponent), but you will be missing out on some great, varied environments that are all very well done. You will fight everywhere from an Egyptian crypt, to the dock of a pirate ship, to a pagan temple, to a Japanese fortress…and the list continues. All of these have a shocking level of detail that is surprising easy to miss unless you pay close attention. The animations in the game are very fluid and realistic. A lot of you may find Taki's “bounce” quite pleasing…I personally had more fun watching Astaroth's throw animations or Voldo's weird evasion…but all the animations in this game are very well done. Best of all, you will find little to no lag in this game at all!!! (And that is pretty important in fighting games).
Overall Graphics Rating: 9.5/10 (Superb)

Sound
The sound in SCII is very nice. The soundtrack for the game is orchestrated and has an epic sounding theme to it all. They even put Link's theme into the game when you use him on a certain stage and it sounds great!!! While you may not finding yourself sitting there just listening to the game's soundtrack (actually Link fanboys might…but most people won't), you also won't find yourself looking for a musical alternative while playing the game. The sound FX for the game are solid. Weapon clashes and such sound as they should and there are no real bad or good things to mention here. The aspect of sound that most people will probably notice the most is the character voices. You can listen to the characters speak in either English or Japanese…and you can have subtitles for each. I found that, for the most part, the character's Japanese voiceovers sounded much better and sometimes more natural. I thought that the Japanese voiceovers were excellent for the most part. The English voiceovers I thought where not as good, but the combination of actually being able to understand my character and the fact that a couple characters actually do sound better in English makes it so the choice btw the two is actually really preference. Overall, the game has a very high quality in all of the sound aspects.
Overall Sound Rating: 9/10 (Superb)

Storyline
Soul Calibur II has actually has a pretty engrossing storyline for a fighting game. It all revolves around an extremely powerful blade named ‘Soul Edge'…that is all-powerful and yet inherently evil. It feeds off of the souls of others for its power. The various fighters in the game are all either trying to destroy it or wield it for their various reasons. All of the fighters have a pretty in-depth background. Namco also gives most of the stages their own little background as well as the various weapons that the characters wield. Not only that, but the WMM (Weapon Master Mode) for the game lets you follow along a little plotline while you are completing it. Overall, the storyline itself for the game isn't bad at all (especially for a fighting game), and the game also has more storyline then most fighters.
Overall Storyline Rating: 8/10 (Great)

Gameplay
I have already mentioned how the GC has an extremely bad controller for the game…so the game controls aren't all that intuitive unless you get a converter or a stick. The gameplay itself is very solid. SCII is a balanced enough game that you can literally play with the worst character in the game and still have a shot at winning. No matter who you are the odds are never really so stacked against you that you have little to no shot of winning. The game defense basically consists of blocking, Guard Impacting, and evading. Blocking something is pretty obvious. The GI (Guard Impact) system in the game really helps to punish patterns, slow moves, bad mixups, and such. For casual gamers you will find a lot of mind game potential and depth in the GI system. Even though GI loses a lot on higher levels you will still see it used at times. The movements system for SCII is really nice and comes out very fluid…it also happens to be part of the evasion system. The ability to side step vertical attacks (and even some horizontal attacks if you get good) is a really big help, and is used very much on higher level play. You can also duck high attacks (obviously) and jump low attacks (obviously…but harder then it sounds). Overall, SCII has a very balanced cast of characters and a solid defensive system. This makes the game very playable for players of all kinds of levels and dedication. The controls are the only real bad point here.
Overall Gameplay Rating: 9/10 (Superb)

Fun Factor
The fun factor for this game is really dependent on whether or not you will have people to play it with or not. This game will be extremely fun for you to play when you first get it no matter who you are. When you get the game the joy of going through WMM and reading the story will be fun and rewarding for you. However, after you have unlocked everything you will find that WMM loses a lot (if not then all) of its fun factor, and the other single player game modes just don't do much for you to keep you extremely interested in the game for that long afterward unless you are a fighting game fanatic. However, if you have a group of friends that you can continuously compete with, then you will find this game to be extremely enjoyable long after everything is unlocked and you will find much more enjoyment out of versus play then any other mode anyways. I would say that if the score was based on the fun of multiplayer alone then it would be a 10/10. However, if it was based on single player alone it would be more along the lines of 9/10 (at first) and then turning to a 6/10.
Overall Fun Factor Rating: 9/10 (Superb)

Replay Value
Again, the replay value of the game is heavily dependent on whether or not you are going to have people to play against or not. If you do happen to then you will probably play this game as long as your group does…which very well may be more then a year because this game provides an extremely enjoyable multiplayer experience. You will find yourself constantly learning and relearning your character and other characters. You can continuously adjust your strategy and used moves and play style. Yet, if you are a lonely soul (or maybe your friends don't like video games or fighters) then the replay value is significantly shortened. You will unlock everything…beat the game a couple times (abusing 1-2 moves more likely then less)…and find there not to be much more reason for you to be playing. I would say that for multiplayer the replay value is extremely high. However, for single player I would say that the replay value is moderately low.
Overall Replay Value Rating: Fairly High

Overall Score
Well, overall Soul Calibur II is a great game. For fighting game fanatics I would say it is a must buy. For people with friends that they regularly game with I would say this is a must buy. For people who game alone then I would say that you should try the game out at the very least. The game is great for both casual gamers and serious gamers. It has great visuals and good sound. The gameplay is balanced and the best on the 3D market at its time. It is very fun to play (for multiplayer especially), and has great replay value (for multiplayer especially). In other words, the chances are you will love this game!!!
Overall Rating: 9/10 (Superb)


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/06/04


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