Review by Cammy14
"Fighting game of the year."
Namco is no stranger to 3D fighting ever since it challenged Virtua Fighter's supremacy with its Tekken series, winning hands down every time. But for some reason, Tekken 4 just couldn't capture all that made Tekken 3 so addictive. Rest assured they did not make the same mistake with Soul Calibur II.
Story? Well, we have endings this time, but there are no mentioning of what happened since the first Soul Calibur so I assume this is the second chapter of the saga (even the boss Inferno returns)
Namco seems to take the ''less is more'' approach and as a result there is only a total of 15 fighters - small number compared to the first game. As a result, the characters are deeper and more challenging to master than ever - you can play for hours with one character and still discovering new moves every fight.
MAJOR improvements from the first SC on the Dreamcast - all the character's faces are meticulously rendered, although their facial expressions can sometimes be disturbing. Lens flare and all the typical Namco flash effects look prettier than ever. The backgrounds also look great, but you'll wish they were less empty.
Heroic themes play throughout the game, from the title screen to the ending. The clashing sounds of steel against steel, which happens often, rings realistically with great clarity. Characters now have voices too, and the acting is above average. Even the annoying announcer is gone, replaced by a calmer and less gratifying one. One annoyance is that when you KO an opponent, you can keep hitting him for fun, but he'll scream in agony with each hit. This gets old quick.
As mentioned, there are literally hundreds of moves for each character that you can play one character in many different ways. The eight-way run remains the most intuitive movement system in a 3D game ever, and it gives the game a true 3D feeling. The AI in this game is fantastic - it adapts to your moves, so you can never hope to keep catching it with the same tactics. This is probably the only game where I've seen too many people get defeated bu the first opponent alone (myself included).
The arcade version packs features normally found in home systems, like survival and training. The genius lies in conquest mode, however. Pick a character, a name and password, and swear allegiance to one of four kingdoms. Then you attack another kingdom, fighting eight other warriors each time. With every victory, the game grades your skills and records your playing style for that character. You gain experience every time you win, and this will be used to gain rank and prestige. At the end of it, you gain territory from the kingdom you invaded - the objective is to unite the land under your kingdom. Then you can choose to fight the character you have raised so far with your password. It's extremely addictive and it gives you a huge satisfaction when this character you've raised managed to beat you fair and square. It's also amazing that you'll actually see the character fighting the way you would have fought - provided you teach him correctly, of course. Furthermore, if your skills suddenly degenerate, then your disciple's will, too.
I've spent more money playing SCII than any other arcade game ever, and judging by the standings of some people (up to 3200 fights in conquest mode - that's 400 credits, BTW) they must have, too. If you're still not comfortable with 3D fighters, SCII will make you a convert. I just wish Namco would let us save our characters to a memory card so we can conquest other arcades as well, but that's what consoles are for, right?
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 10/14/02, Updated 10/14/02
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