Review by DarkDeity86

"The best realistic fighter on the GC? Yes. The perfect fighter? No?"

Introduction - First of all, a brief overview of SCII's history. Namco's second most famous fighter (after Tekken, it's no-weapon cousin) began life on the Playstation, under the name of Soul Blade (aka Soul Edge) and played very much like Tekken, but with weapons. withA couple of years later, it resurfaced on the ill-fated Dreamcast, as Soul Calibur. The games engine was greatly altered; weapons could no longer break (resulting in unarmed combat) and there was a new sytem of powering up (soul charging) and blocking (guard imapcting). Soul Calibur II uses this same engine, though with improved graphics. If you played SC, this game will be very familier.

Gameplay - 9/10 In my opinion, this game lives up to it's reputation as one of the greatest 3D fighters of all time. The controls are simple enough that a novice can pick them up in no time, but aren't too simple. There has been much talk of whether the GC contoller us suitable for this kind of game, and i think it does an ok job. My main complaint with it is that both shoulder buttons are for block (as well as B) which seems incrediably redundant to me. Thankfully, you can alter the controls to your liking, so thats no too bad.
SCII can be divided into four different game types; Arcade, Extra, Vs, and WeaponMaster. Arcade is what the name suggests, it's just like an arcade machine. You pick a chracter and play through several battles, culminating in a special ''Destined'' battle with someone relevant to thier story, and then a fight with long term SC boss Inferno. After this we see what happens to the character via the use of two art stills and some writing. While the difficulty of arcade gets harder with each match as with all games, and is generaly a good challenge and quite fun (to begin with, anyway, but i'll get into that later) I was disapointed with the endings, which were far inferios to it's Playstation ancestors (which were interactive) and event he likes of lesser beat-em up Bloody Roar had better endings then this. Beating the game as a character grants access to thier profile, which is well done, containing speech samples, background and a chance to have a good look at them.
Happily, there is a practice mode, allowing you to fight a dummy opponent, and also granting you a move list (including the ability to watch all the moves be preformed, which is nice).
What i deem ''extra'' is other 1p game modes, including survival (beating enemies in a row, with only some or no health recovered in between) and time attack (self explanitory). While good to begin with, i found these modes a bit stale after a while.
Vs, as you would expect, is your standard figh-a-mate mode. There is a wide variety of arenas (with more unlokcable) and well as weapons, after you've earned them, which is always a plus. You can also adjust health, for longer or shorter matches. The Vs mode is fairly decent, all in all, but again gets old fast, as one match tends to be much like the next. It doesnt fair paritcualary well as a party game, either, especialy compared to games like TimeSplitters2, Super Smash Brothers Melee, or MonkeyBall, which all offer much more spontanious pick-up-and-play fun.
Finally there is the much talked of WeaponMaster mode. In this mode, you travel across a large map, which is littered with locations to fight. Most have special rules to spice it up and ad variety. Exploding floors, for example, or foes that can only be ring-outed. Which each fight you earn cash and experience. The cash is used buy new weapons, costumes, levels, and expedetions (the character showing thier stuff in a short demo). Different locations have different items, and earning enough cash to get them all takes some time. The exp points go towards leveling up your character. I was disaponted to find that all this wields is acess to new pathes, however.
The wealth of unlockables (there are ten unlokcable weapons for everyone, foe example) can then be used in Extra Arcade mode, adding some variety.
There is also a ''Museum'' option, allowing you to see data on all the weapons, the character and level profiles, and the endins and other such demos.
I was disapointed to find there is no option to simply fight a character of your choice in a match. It's either the full blown arcade or practice (which does not contain the option for a real fight)
In addtion, the game is far to similer to SC on the DC. The gameplay mechanics have not advanced at all, nor have the existing chracters changed much (Mitsurgi here is almost exactly the same as he was before, for example)
Namco have gone for the safe, ''if it aint broke dont fix it'' option.

Story - 6/10 Since it's a fighting game, SCII's story is one of the least important things about it. Namco have tried, however, so here's the sotry in brief. Back in the 16th century, there was an evil demon blade known as Soul Edge. It was the most poweful weapon in existence, but utterly evil. Fighters were lured to it by it's power, but all who wielded it were controlled by the evil spirit of the sword, Inferno. Back in SB, Cervantes, a pirate, had the sword (which had become two twin swords). He was defeated by a ninja named Taki, and a greek warrior girl, Sophitia. They broke one of the swords A german knight named Sigfried found the sword and was possessed, becoming Nightmare. In SC, Nightmare was defeated by a women named Xianghua, who wielded a magic sword called Soul Calibur (hence the game name) which was the opposite to the Edge. Four years alter, Nightmare and the Edge return, and once again warriors from all over the world are fighting for it.
Not to bad, really, but a bit of a rehash of the previous two games. Nothing new here.

Graphics/Sound - 9/10 for graphics, 10/10 for sound The graphics are superb, the best i've seen on the Cube to date. They are smooth, detailed, and flowing. The animations are also very good, and flow into each other well. The arenas are nicely detailed, with little effects like reflections, kicked up dust and beutiful, moving backgrounds. There are several small niggles that really lower it down, however. Fair, for example, ignores all physical things, moving through chracters, weapons, and scenery, and falling into the floor when a character is down. This is a disapointment, as the heair is well animated, and i was expecint this long term problem to be fixed. There are also several minor but annoying glithes, such as the way samurai chracter Mitsurugi's armour plates tend to go haywire and twitch all over the place. The sound, all in all, is very good. The swirlign occhestrated music lends a grand feel to the bouts, and the various crashes, clangs, and thuds of combat are convincing. One thing i dont like is the acting. Some of the voices are a bi off, and many are intensely annoying. The translators did a half rate job in many placea, resulting in some excrutiating ''Engrish''. There are long awkward pauses in the......wrong place, and enfesice on the wrong words. There are some characters who are ok, however, and some good lines, so it's no a total loss. I actualy prefer the Japanese acting, which is on the whole less annoying and has less cheesey lines.

Play Time/Replayability - 7/10It took me about three weeks of casual gaming to unlock everything in WM(although i muse admit it has me hooked) and too beat aracade with all the chracters. During this time i found my favourite chracters and became very good with them. This is quite good as on the whole beat em ups dont last very long in terms of single player.
There is however, very little replay value. Once everything has been unlocked it's really just more of the same, and the various extra modes like survial dont offer enough variety to warrant very much playing.
Vs, ussualy the main factor in a beat em up, was a bit of a let down in terms of giving the game life. Once again matches tend to become all to similer, so prolonged bouts are general out the window.

Final Recommendation - all in all, 8/10 If you want a realistic, very technical fighting game, i would recomend this. If you want a fun pick up and play party fighting game, go by Smash Bros. If you want a game that will last a very long time, i would stay clear of this, as (for me at least) it was far too short in comparison to my other games.
All in all, it's a great game with alot going for it. It's not as perfect as some would claim, however.
Oh and if your buying this for Link alone, i wouldn't, unless your obbsessed with the elf boy. Rinky Dinkreally doesnt warrant buying the game with his presence alone, although it was nice to see him in realistic graphics for once.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 10/29/03

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