Review by Auron255
"Its not the best but its good..."
There is quite a lot to this game, and in which case, makes it necessary to look at all sorts of different aspects to make a fair review of this game. But when there is so much in this game, how can one decide where to start.
Soul Calibur II
As far as fighting games go, this actually has a worthy story. As small and minimalized as it is, it is still the best story, any recent fighting game has to offer. Each individual 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 be a plain arcade fighter, than if the game had no story. 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 2, a short literated 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.
These are THE best graphics that any fighting game can sport on the PS2. Soul Calibur 2 flaunts its stuff, and it flaunts it well. Each and every character has their own unique look and posture, and every part of their bodies is emphasized with excessive detail. ALthough it can never be too excessive. The rings that you fight in normally have an edge where you can ''ring out'' your opponents, so their is obviously a set size to the arena, but the background are sometimes so expansive, that only 1/4 of the actual area is the arena. For instance, when fighting Voldo, you will see a ship, and a calm water body, with mountainous walls that reach high as the sky, when you only fight on a small circle near the ship. It may sound a little convoluted, where the developers are trying to be cocky or something odd in that manner, but in reality it makes the game even more immersive. There are a myriad of battle arenas; almost as many arenas as their are characters in the game. Graphically, this game is a gem, and will be one of those games that are talked about as being a ''classic'' for the graphics freaks.
The controls are fairly straight forward, although awkward if you've become accustomed to other fighters that use controls similar to each other. Although its no reason to dock marks, so this is merely a set back for the people who can't pick things up right away. Though there is one thing that makes the controls suck. The combos and the control responsiveness. The combos are rediculously long. In games like Tekken, if you do a 5 or 6 button combo, the attack usually does about 5 or 6 hits. In the case of SC2, if you do a 7 or 8 button combo, the attack may only do 3 or 4 hits. The button combos are so long sometimes, that you will be in the middle of the combo and forget what comes next. The second is the control responsiveness. When you're knocked to the ground, you want to recover fast. But if you press the recover button, you won't recover right away. You'll be flat on your back before you can recover, leaving you open for an onslaught attack (which happens more often than not). Some of the combos aren't pulled off properly not due to lack of responsiveness, but an absolute rediculous amount of sensitivity. If the combo requires a left direction to be pressed, if you press left-down, or left-up, even in the slightest, the combo won't work. This is where the competing consoles win against the PS2. The GC controls are a lot more responsive and less sensitive, where the Xbox controls are like the PS2's, but not to such a high degree. Even though these things are few, they count for a lot and add that much extra difficulty to the game, which demands the docking of marks.
The gameplay can go either way. Practicing is fun, and allows you to get a handle of the different characters moves. In some ways this is a good feature. You will have a lot fun training with the different characters and mastering their moves, and since their are an abundance of moves for each character, this adds so much game time for the player. Weapons Master mode is a fun little extra for players to play through the world of Soul Calibur II and collect different weapons for each character. And trust me, there are A HUGE AMOUNT of weapons to collect. There are up to 7 or 8 for each character. Once you collect these weapons, you can carry them through into the other fighting modes like Arcade mode. Even though there are a ton of modes to play through, like the Time Attack, and other modes found in almost all games, the Weapons Master definately stands out as the defining mode of gameplay for Soul Calibur 2, as well as the Practice, and Arcade. Although these are all fun and good, there are some elements of the game that don't stack up well. One is the immense amount of difficulty. On easy mode, you may be able to survive if you can learn the controls and few good combos to use over and over again, but trust me, using normal is a no-no for anyone playing this for the first time. Not only do the CPU opponents fight with master style, they can pull off the most complicated of combos, and can keep attacking you while you're down until you're either out or KO'd. Sometimes you won't even get a shot off because the enemy AI is so amazingly difficult, JUST on normal mode. I've played every fighter under the sun, but I've never had so much trouble on normal mode with any single game, except for this one. There is so much that can go into making intelligent AI, but there is one key thing about fighters that Soul Calibur 2 doesn't have: A player should be able to pick any arcade fighting game, set it to easy, and mash away and some how win. I know it sounds strange and unusual, but not all gamers are elite fighters, and must resort to button mashing to win battles. You simply cannot do this is in this game. You must know different combos, and how to execute them, in order to do any more than one weak hit. When determining who this games audience is, its definately the fighter veterans, who enjoy master the techniques and moves of all the players. But in doing so, they eliminate the multi-player crowd. The people who invite their friends over, or let family members play, can't, because they won't make any headway, and will be sitting ducks. Its basically only FUN for those who know the moves and can perform them fluidly. Otherwise, you'll be sitting like a duck, throwing a single punch, doing a single kick, guarding or even nothing at all. As much as I hate to do it, SC2 has to lose marks for failing to appeal to all audiences, and making the game so incredible difficult.
There is so much to critique this game for, that you can't do it all in one review. There are two kinds of gamers who will play this game. The SC or fighting game veterans, and the occasional gamer who might pick this up out of interest, and both will give entirely different reviews.
And just for the record, the sound is excellent (10/10), and the replay value is there if you're the fighting game freak (8/10)
Since their are two kinds of gamers for this, I'll give two marks, and average them to make the final score.
The Fighter-Vet: 10/10
This game will definatelty have the fighting gamers hooked. i know I am. After learning the controls, i've learned to do combat on the normal, with some degree of difficulty, but its not the same for the casual gamer.
The Casual Gamer: 6/10
There is simply no fun to be had for the casual gamer. They can pick up the controller, and perhaps go through Arcade mode on Easy difficulty setting, but its definately not a walk in the park and seems more like work than play when trying to accomplish your goals. Even for the fighter veteran, these things are fairly noticable, and need to be pointed out to those who aren't eccstatic fans of the fighting genre. This game is simply unejoyable for those who can't master the combo/control scheme. Its sad to say, but its true.
Final Score: 8/10
This game is a lot of fun, but there are exceptions to the rule. Be cautious when looking at this game. Think about what kind of gamer you are, and how honed your fighting skills are before you rent or buy this game. I would say buy it, but only if you can invest the time to become good, and memorize combos and attack patterns. I've been anticipating this since its announcement, and I've become even more excited when nearing the release date. But when you get this game, its all hype, and suffers from some serious flaws. In my eyes this game is almost perfect, (since i'm somewhere in between the Fighting-Vet and the Fighting-Fan) but is still worthy of the Soul Calibur name.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/20/03
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