ultimate fighting championship has arrived on PS2,
GameCube and Xbox and if you've ever played a Soul
(Blade, Edge, Calibur) game, you'll know exactly what
to expect from this high energy product from Namco.
That isn't to say SCII isn't a fine upstanding product;
it is in spades. It just happens to be more than a
little predictable and without sounding unappreciative,
it's more or less like the excellent Dreamcast verison
released back in 1999.
why do you need Soul Calibur 2? There are a few reasons
to be sure. One is that you may not be able to locate
all of the Dreamcast hookups if you need a Soul Calibur
fix. Another 3 major reasons are directly tied to
the way cool guest stars that make an appearance in
the 3 console versions of the game, notably Link from
Legend of Zelda in the GC version, Heihachi from Tekken
in the PS2 version and Todd McFarlane's Spawn in the
Xbox version. Let me just say now that there won't
be any codes to unlock any of those characters in
a different console version than the one they are
licensed to appear in. There is also the other new
addition to the clan - Todd McFarlane's creation Necrid
- who appears across the board in all 3 versions.
Of course you can't knock the insanely beautiful graphics,
superb (yet somewhat recycled) character animations
and the "button mashing on the surface yet
satisfyingly deep once you get to know it"
style of gameplay that the Soul Calibur series is
Calibur's gameplay has always divided gamers. There
are those who play it for ten minutes, get bored and
call the game a button masher. And then there are
the purists who understand the nuances of the fighting
engine, learn the timing to the counter attacks and
the blocking system and get much more out of their
experience with the game. Those of us who have the
ability to fight against other human opponents who
really take their SC seriously, know how entertaining
a good match can be, but there are far too many gamers
who will set this on the easiest skill level, battle
their way to the end and never pick up the game again.
That's their loss. The one serious knock that I could
level at SCII is that none of the versions support
online play. WIth the ability to go online with all
three systems it would have been something to offer
players with different versions the chance to play
Link against Spawn or Heihachi. That would have been
worth triple the price of admission. Unfortunately
online play isn't offered in any of the versions,
which diminishes what could have been one of the coolest
features of the decade into something more closely
resembling a tight and well polished fighting game
but nothing that we haven't seen before.
the inclusion of the aforementioned characters was
pure genius on everyone's part as it gives SCII the
clout that it wouldn't have had without it. I'm not
that big of a fan of Tekken's Heihachi Mishima, but
playing with him in this game is a nice diversion.
My favorite addition is Link on the GameCube who suits
the swordplay style the best, although Spawn is very
cool as well. Unfortunately the GameCube is my least
favorite in terms of control, with the PS2 being the
most comfortable controller to use. Most gamers who
don't have all three systems to compare won't have
any noticable difficulties playing the game with the
controller, this is purely a personal observation.
Although the game is played in a pseudo 3D, it's still
advised to use the D-Pad for inputting moves and that's
where the PS2 controller makes the others cry "Mama!".
The GC D-Pad is entirely to small and finicky, the
Xbox D-Pad is too rounded and sloppy but the PS2 D-Pad....it's
just right. Now I know how Goldilocks felt - I always
thought she was a little too high maintenance, but
I guess she really had something there. For those
with the Xbox and GC versions, just make sure you
never play the PS2 version or you won't go back.
with any fighting game these days, developers like
to give you some incentive to keep playing, so expect
numerous unlockables. If anything it gives the lone
player something to strive for after he or she has
beaten the game a few times. Along with the story
mode and arcade mode, players can also play the Text
Mode - which is my sarcastic name for the Weapon Master
Mode. This feature is a half-baked mission style mode
(that originally appeared in games Tobal 1, Tekken
etc) in which the characters fight each other for
purposes other than what is outlined in the story
mode. Between each fight is text upon text explaining
just what the hell is going on and it reminds of movies
that start with a few pages of text to fill you in.
This is just a personal opinion of mine but I'm not
a big fan of mixing mediums to that degree. If it's
a movie, I want to watch not read. If it's a game,
I want to play not read. Considering it will only
appeal to the uber-SC fan who will be able to dig
deeper into the lives of their favorite characters,
most of us just don't care all that much and that's
why we'll skip on ahead thanks to our flea like attention
spans eagerily hunting for the next bit of action.
Soul Calibur 2 looks great across all three platforms.
In fact, having all three going at once and flipping
back and forth between them I was sometimes hard pressed
to tell what version I was playing. For purely reference
purposes I hooked up my Dreamcast, tossed in Soul
Calibur and flipped between that too. Let me just
say that Namco kicked ass back in 99. It's stunning
how good the DC game looks in comparison to the next
gen systems. Why did the Dreamcast fail again? I'm
still not sure I quite understand...
fans who have already been playing the heck out of
their import versions won't have any reason to jump
ship. Soul Calibur 2 is exactly what you make it.
If you are a diehard fighting fan you'll get the most
out of your time with the game. If you are a casual
fan attracted to the pretty graphics like a moth to
a flame, expect to play for an hour or two, get the
jist and move on to something else. You will notice
that out of all three systems, the PS2 system takes
the cake with 4.75, the Xbox with 4.5 and the GC with
4.0. I calls 'em as I sees 'em.
shaping up to be one of the best fighters ever, Soul
Calibur 2 is also going to be a big hit with pop culture
fan boys everywhere. Why? Let me tell you. Each console
version of SC2 will feature a specific special character.
The Xbox version will feature Todd McFarlane's Spawn,
the Cube will feature Nintendo's Link (as already
reported by us months ago) and the PS2 version will
feature Tekken (and Namco's) Heihachi, which is sort
of a no brainer.
out the screens below and cry like a baby when you
realize that all of those cool characters won't be
able to fight each other. Spawn vs Link? Link vs Heihachi?
Sorry, not gonna happen. To ease the pain, each version
of SC2 will feature a newly created Todd McFarlane
character called Necrid (the big green dude) as well
as many other Namco guest stars which will be revealed
as the weeks go by until the March 23, 2003 Japanese
one of the best fighting games to have ever graced
a console, Soul Calibur for the Dreamcast was proof
positive that high-tech arcade games could be brought
into your living room and turn ordinary people into
gaming zombies. In fact, the Dreamcast game is still
one of the best looking fighters around, even though
the PS2 is technically a much more sophisticated and
3D fighter even surpassed the arcade version on the
DC with incredible graphics and its depth of gameplay.
One of the most important elements of the game was
the character control. An eight-way direction system
allowed for great maneuverability while the physics
of the game made concessions for the weight of weapons.
The characters were detailed to reveal facial expression
and muscles movement. Everything was animated at a
very smooth 60 fps. But that was way back in '98;
so let's quit living in the past. What's new with
Soul Calibur 2? Does it even stand a chance of being
a fraction as groundbreaking as the first one?
to Namco, the game will retain much of its ancestor's
look and feel. The sequel will not stray too far from
the original but we have learned it will be bigger
if not better, and in this case, bigger will be just
about as good as better. Heck, you can't improve on
Lay's Salt and Vinegar chips but you can sure increase
my pleasure (and waistline) by offering me more. Soul
Calibur 2 may also be released for the PS2 but don't
hold your breath...we're hearing rumblings that this
may be a GameCube exclusive.