Review by Allyourbase

"Here it is! Start drooling!"

It's been a long wait, but I believe that it was worth it. nearly six months after the Japanese release of Soul Calibur II, American PS2 owners can finally witness firsthand what the rage is all about. If you thought the original Soul Calibur was awesome, you haven't seen anything yet. SC2 promises, and delivers, all that and the proverbial bag of chips.

In case you don't know, SC2 takes place four years after the original game. Nightmare, the holder of the evil Soul Edge sword, finds himself weakened after an epic battle with Xianghua. Although the sword's grip on his mind has weakened, Nightmare is still reluctantly forced to kill in order to satisfy the sword's appetite for the soulds of strong warriors. As a result, warriors arise from all over the globe in order to destroy the sword - or perhaps take the sword for themselves. Enough about the story, let's get to the good stuff.

Graphics 9.5/10 - The graphics are near-flawless port from the arcade version. Each character, whether it be the hulking Astaroth to the voluptuous Ivy or the flexible Voldo, are lovingly rendered in amazing detail. Small details like clothing moving in the wind provide awesome realism and each character moves and attacks realistically (except for Yoshimitsu or Voldo, but that's another story). The backgrounds are simply a sight to behold and are as diverse as the characters themselves. You'll find yourself gawking at how realistic the backdrops are. The only nitpicky point I want to bring up is the frame slowdown. When the action gets too intense, sometimes the game gets choppy. While this isn't life-threatening, it can be annoying. Aside from that, the graphics are wonderful.

Sound 10/10 - The background tunes aren't as memorable as they were in SC1, mainly because each stage isn't tied to a specific character per se. While the sounds aren't audible amidst the din of an arcade, given a killer home system, you can hear the sound and fury of battle. The sound of swords clashing brings intensity to each fight and the character's voices bring added spice and trash talking to the fight. From Raphael's ''How boring!'' to Nightmare's ''This is it!'' and Cervantes' ''No mercy!'', you gain a sense of what each fighter is like as a person. You'll definitely want to spring for a killer sound system.

Gameplay 10/10 - This is where the game really shines. If Namco wanted to create a system that was easy to pick up, but difficult to master, they've found their answer in SC2. There are four buttons, three to attack and one to guard. Sound simple? It is. But wandering through each character's movelist and deciphering each move's unique properties and using them correctly takes years of practice. Thankfully, you can cook up all the neat combos and set ups you want in the Practice Mode.

Replay value 10/10 - All the extra stuff Namco added must be an apology letter for the barebones atrocity called ''Tekken 4''. SC2 is packed to the eyeballs with all sorts of neat stuff. There's Arcade Mode, which is your standard play-through-the-game-and-see-your-character's-ending. Then of course, there's Survival, Time Attack, and VS. modes. But the true star is Weapon Master Mode, which makes its triumphant return, after appearing in Soul Blade. In Weapon Master, you complete various missions to earn experience and gold. The gold can then be used to unlock extra goodies such as extra costumes, new characters and new weapons. Trust me, there are TONS of goodies to unlock. Expect to spend a couple of weeks unlocking everything. With well over 15 characters to study and learn, there's something for everyone.

Overall 10/10 - I take it back: Tekken Tag Tournament is not the best fighting game ever. Soul Calibur 2 is far and away the best fighting game I've ever seen. Whether you want a quick 15-minute fix of fun or want to play into the wee hours of the morning, Soul Calibur 2 has something to satisfy your cravings. Disconnect your phone, move to a cave and get ready: Soul Calibur 2 is going to own your life for a long time. :P

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/28/03, Updated 07/28/03

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