Review by XenoSirus

"Soul Calibur II. The 3D Fighting Game Revolution."

When I first heard about Soul Calibur II in magazines and websites, I was euphoric. That’s really the only way to describe the emotion I felt when I heard it was being developed. My euphoria continued as I followed along with the game’s development, reading articles, catching up on the latest screenshots and rumors. I couldn’t wait and now that it’s been here for a few months, I’m still just as pleased with it.

The one question about this game that’s on everyone’s mind is, “Does Soul Calibur II live up to its predecessor?”. The answer, plain and simple, is yes. Soul Calibur II not only lives up to the original, it expands and improves on it.

Right from the opening FMV you can tell this game is going to be a graphical masterpiece. It is simply put the most beautiful PS2 game on the market. The character models are full of detail and set the bar at a new height for fighting games. The environments are literally breath taking, but unfortunately there isn’t much interactivity with them, which is something I would’ve liked to see. The characters and environments mesh well and not one thing looks out of place. All of this beauty without a hint of pixelation and with an amazing framerate, that’s definitely a new record for the PS2. Though I should note, from what I’ve seen it looks equally amazing on the X-box and Gamecube, most likely even better.

The gameplay and the physics are flawless, literally. The physics (of course) are a little less than lifelike, but are much closer to life than Tekken, Mortal Kombat, or Tao Feng. The control is perfect, unless you’re using a wireless and/or 3rd party controller you will never have response problems with this game and even if you did, it’d be your controllers fault. The moves are pretty well spaced out among the characters, but on occasion you’ll find a character or two that share a few of the same basic moves. Necrid (designed by Spawn creator Todd McFarlene) is the most notable case. If you’ve played more than a few fighting games in your time you’ll notice all his moves are almost a direct copy of some other random fighter. As with the original Soul Calibur, this game features a Weapon Master mode. This mode is accompanied by an (unfortunately) bland story, but if you’re a fighting game fan, you should be used it. Basically your object is to travel around a mini-map doing random, sometimes annoying quests, and most of the time you are rewarded with Gold and Experience Points. From what I know, Soul Calibur is the first fighting series to ever implement a level system. But as far as I know, the levels have no effect on the actual gameplay. You’ll also do most of your unlocking in this mode, so be prepared to be bombarded with pages of text filled with cliché fighting game story. Overall the mode is enjoyable and it adds a quite a bit of depth into the fighting game genre. More developers should take note and add some sort of mode other than “Arcade” and “VS” into their fighting games.

The sound is one of the game’s strong points as well. The tracks in this game are nothing short of masterpieces. They range from lighthearted tunes to dramatic, tense, tracks. The sound effects are amazing as well. The quality of these stand out even more so than the music, which is saying a lot. You hear every hit, every step, and every block clearly. Which brings me to the clarity of the game’s sound; it is crisp as can be. The one downside to the sound is the character voices. A good portion of the male characters sound as if they are going through puberty, when most are in their twenties to forties. Plus, the dialogue is very cheesy as well. They did a better job than most gaming companies, but that says almost nothing.

The replay value is relatively high, once you’re done with Weapon Master, you’re pretty much done with Weapon Master. Some will want to get to the highest level possible or buy every weapon there is, but if you aren’t that person, you can blow through Weapon Master relatively fast. But what really gets the replay value within this game, are the ‘Extra’ modes. You get to use the weapons you’ve bought in Weapon Master mode in all the normal modes, which can rack up quite a few hours when playing with a friend in VS mode.

Pros : Amazing Graphics.
Flawless Physics.
Superb Sound.
High Replay Value.

Cons : Re-hashed moves.
Cliché Story.
Cheesy Voices.

Soul Calibur II is an amazing fighting game, and in a mass of people’s eyes, the absolute best. It has a few small errors but nothing stopping it from being a masterpiece. The Pros out-weigh the cons by a ton. You should definitely pick this one up, for any of the 3 consoles.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/22/03

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