Review by Zelda Qua
Soul Calibur II - Believe the hype my friends
Let's get one thing out of the way: I am definitely NOT a fighting game fan. With that said, I simply cannot stress enough the greatness that Soul Calibur II manages to achieve. If you are having any doubts about picking this one up, then read on to see why you definitely should.
While I am quite aware that this is a fighting game and shouldn't really have a story category, I can't help but say that I am pretty impressed that the Weapon Master Mode in Soul Calibur II actually had a half decent plot.. for a fighting game of course. It basically involves the character you have chosen going on a quest across the land to find the evil Soul Edge sword and destroy it. Along the way, you find yourself getting involved in many encounters with people trying to halt your progress. In the end, you accomplish your goal and each character has an ending.
The graphics in Soul Calibur II are pretty much top notch, however nothing particularly exceptional will catch your eye. If you've ever played the Dreamcast original, these are just like that but improved upon in a few areas. An area in particular that needs some attention is the age-old water effects that have been recycled through various first year PS2 games. The interface is very intuitive and clean. Character models are excellent, and backgrounds serve themselves well enough.
Soul Calibur II has a very deep combat system. There is no stepping around this fact. If you are a Tekken fan, you will find yourself actually having to use a considerable amount of strategy (not to mention the block button) to become a decent player. Each character actually feels considerably different enough to make learning one character vastly different from the next. A number of different weapons are featured from standard swords, to nunchuks and claws. Leading to my next point: despite the great gameplay I probably would have overlooked this one if it had not featured the greatly robust Weapon Master Mode. In my opinion, this mode makes the game folks. You travel across a map competing in different fights with various rules put into place for completing each. One example of this is a level where an assassin attacks you with a bomb, and you are trapped inside a cage where exchanging blows with your opponent also exchanges the bomb. If you are holding the bomb when the match is over, then you are blown into the air and lose. Things like this really give the game a lot of variety. From each fight you complete (win or lose) you will gain experience and money. Experience levels your character up and raises ranking while money is used to purchase new weapons for each character, as well as photo galleries and stuff like that. Different weapons possess different traits, so you will find yourself having to think which one to use before heading into a particular match. This game mode will take approximately 12-14 hours to complete fully depending on skill level. That alone is an amazing feat for a fighting game. Multiplayer is also great and unlocked weapons and costumes may be used in matches. If I could improve upon the gameplay in any way, it would be to be able to customize a characters stats in different aspects. That could be a lot of fun.
In a fighting game, music is not exactly an important issue. However, the music in this game is half decent anyway. The soundtrack consists of various orchestral scores to produce an epic feeling accompanying the intense combat. Sound effects range from mediocre to good. Slashes, whooshes and kicks sound about as good as they can possibly sound. However the voices that Namco decided to give the characters are often extremely laughable. Not that this will effect your viewpoint on the game or anything, it's just worth pointing out. You may actually enjoy the very cheesy voice samples that have been given to each character in copious amounts. A particular example is Raphael. A character who looks French and sounds pretty French, but is apparently Spanish.
Soul Calibur II is definitely worthy of popping 50+ hours into. The single player experience alone is considerably deep and will offer a high amount of play time. If you get really good, and have friends who are also good, matches can be extremely intense and entertaining. That's the beauty of the game. You can pick up and play it easily as a beginner, but masters of the game will be able to pick apart a new player in a matter of seconds, more likely than not without even suffering much damage. This is one game that will be popping in and out of your console over the next couple years.
Despite the fact that not much has changed from the original Soul Calibur, the gameplay remains as deep and fast as ever. Definitely THE best fighter I have ever played. As 95% of you know, each consoles version of the game comes with it's own unique character. Gamecube has Link, PS2 has Heihachi and the Xbox has Spawn. Personally, I enjoy the Playstation 2's controller best and don't mind that I get the worst of the three character's. Believe the hype my friends.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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