Review by Angel of Sanity

"One of the best 3D Fighters I've played"

Soul Calibur 2 is the sequel to 1999's Dreamcast launch title, Soul Calibur. At the time of its release it was much more advanced than anyone expected. Even to this day, it still hails as the best looking Dreamcast game to date. And to be honest, that may be a bold statement but it can be proven. Soul Calibur 2 doesn't really expand upon anything that made the original so good. To make each version unique, Namco opted to add an exclusive character to each version of the game. The PS2 has Heihachi of Tekken fame, the Xbox has Spawn, and the GCN has possibly the best of the three characters, Nintendo's own Link from the acclaimed Zelda series. For multi-console owners, like myself, this alone made it difficult for me to decide which version to get. However, after careful consideration, I decided to get the Gamecube version. Enough of the intro, on with the review.

The presentation in SC2 is excellent. The game starts off with an great FMV sequence, that not only looks great but also sets the tone for the game. It shows some of the various fighters from the game in CG form. GCN owners got lucky, as Namco added Link to the FMV. The menus are nicely laid out and easy to navigate through. Namco did a great job on the presentation.

The graphics in the game are the biggest improvement over the original. The Character models look great, with realistic looking faces and fluid movement. The game runs at a constant with no signs of slowdown. The arenas are equally detailed featuring great texture work and excellent lighting effects. The particle effects and other special effects are also well done. Namco did a great job of improving the graphics over the original and the effort shows. As for Arcade to console conversions go, the Gamecube version looks exactly like the arcade version. Great job Namco.

The sound effects are great. Each weapons sounds different from the next and every fighter has different grunts and screams. Namco was kind enough to add a language setting to switch from English to Japanse. This a great feature because the Japanse voices sound much better than the English voices. The Music is great, featuring a 24-track fully orchestrated soundtrack. All of it is crystal clear and fits the theme of the game well. Namco did a fantastic job with the sound and music.

The game offers several modes of play including the now standard for all 3D fighters Arcade, vs, time attack, survival, team battle, vs team battle, and practice. Arcade mode is your basic one player mode where you play through a set number of stages to see a characters ending. Versus mode is self-explanatory. Time attack is a variation of arcade mode where the object is to beat each opponent within a set time limit. Survival mode is where you battle various fighters from the game until you die. Team Battle and Versus Team Battle are where you form a group of three fighters and face either computer opponents in arcade mode fashion or a friend in vs team battle. Practice mode is where you can practice with a certain character against an non-attacking opponent. While not as deep as Tekken 3's practice mode, it gets the job done and has the basic options you need to become a master with a certain character. Along with all these modes there are extra versions of these modes which you have to unlock. The only difference is you can choose which weapon you want to use. The main mode of the game though is the Weapon Master mode. In this mode you complete several missions to unlock stuff. For each mission you beat you gain gold and experience. With gold you buy various weapons and other items for the shops. Each chapter has its own shop. In total there are 10 chapters. Each on gets harder as you progress. Experience points are used mainly to unlock extra stuff and aren't necessarily used very well in my opinion. In this mode you unlock characters and arenas and misc stuff. You have to buy everything else like weapons and costumes. For the most part, this mode is well-rounded but the only complaint is that it is a little too easy and can be beaten rather quickly. For single player gamers, there is lots of replay value in this mode and arcade mode. Also, some single players might find enjoyment in practice mode to learn characters they want to master. However, like all fighting games the single player mode is only second to multiplayer modes and this game is no exception. The vs and vs team battle modes can be quite addicting. The controller layout is great and works well with the Gamecube controller. Once again Namco did a great job making sure 1-player and 2-player games are balanced out.

A must-buy for all fighting game fans. However, if you aren't a big fighting game fan a rental should help you decide. Overall, though you will get a lot for your money with this game

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/31/03

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