Review by bbears
INTRO: Every once and while you will play a game that will just blow you away. Soul Caliber II is one of those games. Technically the game is flawless, the gameplay is incredibly fast paced, there is mounds of depth and unlockables to be found, and the story is as involving as you want it to be, and the controls respond perfectly with not one hiccup. Now that I have basically described the entire game you don't even need to go on with my review right? But you are going to so you can see how all of the things I have just described are true.
GRAPHICS: SCII is one of the 5 best looking games on the PS2. The framerate is blazing with out showing any slow down. The character models are all highly detailed and cool looking too. Heiachi, the PS2 guest character looks better than he does in the Tekken series. Characters Nightmare and Necrid are especially gruesome looking. The game offers a profile mode where you can simply just look at the amazing amount of details put in the characters. You can also easily tell the difference between all of the different weapons of an individual character. The backgrounds are truly what make this game seem epic. Huge and looking like they were painted onto your TV screen, SCII easily has the best designed arenas of all fighters.
SOUND: The music only heightens the game's amazing visuals. All of the tracks are epic and grand. They all sound appropriate too, nothing seems out place or over dramatic. The background voice is also a very nice touch. Depending on the arena and fighting characters the voice will give a short prelude to the battle. Character voices sound very good too. Not much is called for in voice acting, but what is there is flawless. Sound effects are crisp, clear, and sound real. The menu sound effects are not the greatest but they can be easily overlooked.
CONTROLS: SCII is a very fast paced fighter that demands precision control. So it is a damn good thing SCII has precision control. All the face buttons and the D-pad are used. R1 and L1 are also used. SCII is one of the few 3D fighters that can pull combat with D-pad movement. Normally D-pad movement makes everything very stiff and frustrating, but here it is done better than any other fighter. Utilizing the D-pad is what makes this game stand out. You are given unrivaled fluidity with old school precision. Which makes SCII so easy to pick up for the novice, but challenging for some one willing to master it.
STORY: Most fighters don't even pretend to try and present a story. But SCII delivers are very deep storyline that allows you the option of exploring it or not. The basic plot is there are two swords, soul edge and soul caliber. One is evil the other good, both are magically possessed. All of the different characters have different stories to why they are pursuing either of the swords. Of course there is an end summary for every character once you beat it for that character in arcade mode, but the profile mode also offers lots of background information. The back story involved is quite immense. The game also has weapon master mode, which tells a long winded story of its own through narrative screens prior to every mission. Unfortunately except for the opening sequence no FMVs are used, which is a disappointment considering the power available here. But the opening FMV is amazing, looking like something out Final Fantasy.
GAMEPLAY: Soul Caliber II features a considerable amount of depth. Most fighting games now attempt some sort of story mode. SCII excels here better than any of it's peers. The Weapon Master mode you journeying a map featuring various missions. All of the missions are fairly typical variety for a fighting game, but the sheer volume is amazing. Time attack and handicap matches are a plenty. But all of these missions have reasons. Such as time attack because you are poisoned and need to defeat your opponent before time runs out. There are also dungeons. This is where you journey trough a maze via map to get goodies and have several matches along the way. The goodies consist of weapons (which have a real impact on the gameplay), extra characters, costumes, modes, arenas, etc. Other modes are arcade, survival, time attack, and a bonus arcade mode where you select your weapon. All of these play out fairly typically. So besides an actual story mode what makes SCII stand out? Of course it is the combat. If you have never played SCII imagine Virtua Fighter with exclusively weapons. The D-pad, face buttons, and some shoulder buttons are used for combat. Button mashing will win you one or two matches but an experienced player will love the open ended combo system. But unlike Tekken or Virtua Fighter you don't need a PHD complete the combos.
THE BOTTOM LINE: One of the best games for the PS2 and the best fighter for this current generation of consoles.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/14/05
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