Review by robcram

"The soul has returned"

From the producers of the hugely popular Tekken series, Soul Blade or Soul Edge (depending on where you come from) started life in the arcades. Ported also to the Playstation it established itself as a benchmark title in the weapons based combat genre. Similar games such as Toshinden had paved the way for what was to become an ongoing saga that just kept on getting better. With a name
change and subsequent release on the Dreamcast and arcades Soul Calibur was the new king of weapons based fighting games.Showing that the Dreamcast is a well capable piece of kit (even by todays standards ) Soul Calibur looked and played awesome. It couldn’t get any better that this surely? Well Namco has now released Soul Calibur 2 on all formats so lets see shall we!

As with all Namco fighters you are treated to an excellent FMV intro to proceedings Introducing some cool action shots of each fighter.Sets the mood perfectly. Once you have pressed start this is where your Adventure begins (you can kiss goodbye to many hours, days even and ultimately months or years). You are faced with an im-
pressive list of modes to play through which includes Arcade ,Vs, Survival ,time attack , Team Battle and the mighty Weapons Master mode. Other options include Museum and extra which I will explain
later. Selecting arcade to begin with will place you into a series of fights which follows your chosen character’s story. There are a total of 20+ fighters who all have their own unique looks and weapons.The character detail is second to none here as they all look amazing. Smooth animation and speedy frame rates provide an arena of
sheer visual pleasure. Sparks fly as weapons collide ,trails sweep across the screen with every swift strike. Combatants yell and grimace with every hit or parry, swordplay never looked so good. The multi shaped areas also look better than ever with massive detail to
complement the fighting. This time there is some interaction with walls whereby you can pin your opponent . The classic wall-less stages are back also.

Controlling your fighter is relatively easy depending on which system you are playing on or if you are using arcade sticks. Unfortunately I have been playing using the Gamecube pad, which is hardly ideal for this type of game. However I found that with a little patience, getting to grips with the d-pad was not that hard and I eventually became fluid with its use. Playing Soul Calibur is easy for beginners to get into and is also deep enough for the fighting game masters to enjoy.

The classical inspired music also returns in all its grandeur which complements the time period the game is set in. Other sound effects are great especially the yells and screams of attacking and fallen foes. Great atmosphere all round.

When arcade fighters are ported to consoles there is often a gap that needs to be filled, to provide that little bit extra for the player to mess around with. Soul Calibur 2 has addressed this issue with a whole host of features to unlock and play. Most noticeably the Weapons Master mode. It is here where you will most likely want to start first ,as it is key to unlocking the many secrets of this game.The aim here is to fight your way to the top earning money on the way to purchase/ unlock the many weapons and extras in the game. You will have to face numerous opponents of diverse difficulty in many strange places, including dungeons. These will include things like invisible opponents and arenas that are filled with
quicksand. Also many stages require you to perform certain moves to dispatch your foe. Although the text which outlines your objectives are in Japanese. This does not really hinder your efforts, as the path to victory is often quite clear. A lot of the story text is also
present here in Japanese but again does not hinder your enjoyment of this mode. There are huge amounts of weapons to buy and unlock here. This will keep you hooked for a very long time as you gain ranks. All items and extras can be viewed in the Museum. There are loads of things to acquire here and makes a great portfolio for the game once completed. Any weapons can then be used in the “Extra” modes of play which adds new tactics to bouts depending on which weapons are being used.

Soul Calibur 2 is a great template for modern day fighting games.With its large content , Excellent visuals and sound. Engaging game play and loads of extra modes especially for console players, you can’t go wrong here. There is something for every one to enjoy.Also featured are 3 unique characters who correspond with each
system. Ps2 has Heihachi from Tekken. Gamecube features the famous Link from the Zelda games. Xbox gets Todd Mcfarlanes Spawn character. I guess this doesn’t warrant getting all versions but maybe getting another version on the US release. Depends on how big a fan you are. Either way you must get this game even if its the only beat em up you get this year. You will not be disappointed as it goes that bit further than its predecessors.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/11/03, Updated 04/11/03

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