Soul Calibur II

The original Soul Calibur on Dreamcast was hailed as the best game on Dreamcast and the best fighting game of it’s time. Soul Calibur II has a lot to live up to. But Soul Calibur II didn’t live up to the original… It exceeded it beyond my wildest dreams.

Soul Calibur is the BEST fighting game ever made, and quite possibly the best game ever made. So why are you just sitting there reading this review? Go! Now! Go buy this game right now!

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Okay, you’re still reading. Obviously you need a little persuasion to convince you to go buy this game. Alright, here goes:

Imagine if you were given an unlimited budget to create a video game. Now imagine that you are given the best developers, programmers, artists, and composers in the world. Now imagine that they will do everything you want, however you want it. This is what might happen:

First, you’d want phenomenal visuals. You’d have the artists strive for perfection. You’d want the character designs to kick ass. You’d want the graphics to beat everything else out there. Well, Soul Calibur II delivers in spades. The graphics in SC II are amazing. The backgrounds are detailed and lush. Water trickles, wind blows, and flower petals flutter… the backgrounds come alive with attention to tiny details and beautiful animations. The characters are even more amazing. The artists created a huge cast of incredibly cool characters, unlike anything I’ve seen since Guilty Gear X. Each character has incredibly high geometry, and the texture work is as crisp as you’re going to get on a GameCube. Besides the amazing polygons and textures, there’s also lighting, shading, and bump-mapping effects. To top it all off, the animations are extremely fluid, from the main animations of the body movements, to little details like hair and clothes waving in the breeze. No detail has been left out. And to make sure you see every little detail, the game supports Progressive Scan Televisions. Also, the game runs at a constant 60 frames per second, without a hitch. In the visual department, this game shines as one of the most lush and beautiful games on the GameCube.

Next you’d want an incredible soundtrack. Unless you absolutely abhor orchestral music, you’d probably want to give your game a majestic, theatrical score to accompany all those amazing visuals. Once again, SC II delivers. The music in this game is, you guessed it, orchestral. It sounds full and rich, and fits the theme of the game perfectly. I can’t imagine anyone not liking the music in this game. The first time I booted up this game, I was blown away by not only the visuals, but also the wonderful musical score. On top of that, the sound effects are top notch. The clang sound of swords clashing, the whooshing sound of a giant axe swing, all the sound effects are over-the-top in your face, and make the game sound powerful and violent. They work perfectly in the game to make sure you not only see the impact, you feel the impact. With all this comes some voice work, which although limited, does not disappoint. There is an English voice track, so when your character taunts the enemy, or makes a snide comment about their fighting abilities, you’ll understand what they’re saying. If you don’t like the English voice artists, you can also set it to the original Japanese soundtrack, and just enable subtitles to read what they’re saying. English or Japanese, the voices sound clear and not digitized, and they fit the personality of each character.

Now you’re thinking, ‘I have the greatest looking and sounding game out there. But who wants to play a game that’s not fun?’ So you decided the most effort should be placed on gameplay. Good choice. Short and simple, SC II plays like a dream. The controls are tight and responsive. There is no lag time, like in some fighting games, and you never question why a character acted the way they did. When you press a button or combination of buttons, the character does what they’re told, without any problems. In some fighting games, pulling off a special move can be complicated and difficult. In SC II, even the most complicated maneuver can be pulled off with ease if you just concentrate on pressing the right buttons at the right time. Speaking of maneuvers, there’s hundreds of thousands of maneuvers in SC II. Each character has hundreds of moves unique to them, and each one has a purpose. No two moves are alike, and each one has a strength and a weakness. Essentially, when you get good enough, you can plan out custom combos and pull off each move according to the current situation. When you reach that level, you will become untouchable. Added to the perfect control is the perfect fighting system, and if that’s not enough, each character has ten weapons, each with unique stats that change the way a character plays, adding an even deeper element of strategy. The graphics may lure you in, but the flawless gameplay is what will keep you coming back for more.

Okay, so you’ve created the base for the perfect game: Outstanding graphics, sound, and gameplay. Now you want to expand on that and give it depth. SC II has plenty to keep you busy. There are 15 characters when you start the game, and many more to unlock as you play. There are a multitude of features to unlock in SC II, like Time Attack, Survival, Team Battle, and Extra Battle modes, as well as new stages, costumes, weapons, art galleries, character profiles, and so much more. There gets a point where you think you’ve unlocked it all, and then something else shows up. No fighting game has ever been so gigantic.

What could make the perfect game even more fun? Multiplayer! You and a friend can pick your favorite character and go head to head in a brutal battle to see who is superior. Playing against AI is fun, but there’s nothing that compares to human competition.

Now you want to top it all off with the most kick ass FMV intro sequence you’ve ever seen. The FMV is just awesome, blowing everything else out of the water, aside from maybe the Resident Evil FMVs. But even then, the two are so incredibly detailed and cool, you’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite.

Finally, just in case you’re the type of person who just has to have a story line to even consider buying a game, this game has a massive story. There’s the main story about Soul Calibur and Soul Edge, plus the Weapon Master mode, kind of a mock RPG in the game. There are also detailed background stories on every character in the game, plus a brief history of each and every weapon. Even the stages have background stories. No detail is left out.

In essence, Soul Calibur II is the game you’d wind up with if you were given the opportunity to make the perfect game for yourself.

Okay, so by now you’re either thinking, ‘I must have this game’, or you still have your reservations about it. Well, if you think fighting games are mindless, SC II proves you need strategy to win. If you think fighting games are too hard, or easy, SC II has difficulty settings to accommodate every type of player from novice to expert. If you just plain don’t like fighting games, I will assure you, this one will change your mind. I know a few people who hate fighting games, and still like SC II. My brother refuses to play Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, or any other fighting game for that matter, but he actually likes SC II. My friend Tracy never got into fighting games, but she still kicks ass when playing SC II. If you’re still unsure, think about all the crap games you’ve ever bought in you life. All the money wasted on dumb games that suck. Think how many more times you’ll shell out the money to buy some game that looks cool and turns out to be a total disappointment. Now consider Soul Calibur II. Even if you don’t love the game to the degree I do, you could have done worse. There’s a 99.9% chance you’ll like this game, and in the rare 0.1% chance you don’t, just be glad you didn’t waste your money on Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure instead.

"You will not find a better playing fighting game. Period."
- Soulcalibur II
Follow Own it? Rating: M   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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