Soul Caliber 2 Review

Soul Caliber 2 Review

Soul Calibur 2
A Review By James Winder

Platform: Xbox, GameCube & PS2
Genre: Fighting
Release Date: August 27, 2003
Price: $49.99
Score: 8.5 out of 10

The first Soul Calibur game was a massive hit for the Sega Dreamcast back
in 1999. Featuring a completely unique way of fighting involving a multitude
of weapons Soul Calibur was one of the games which managed to keep the
Dreamcast alive during its dying months. With jaw dropping graphics and
a massive arsenal of weapons this was a fighting game with a difference.
What made it unique was the fantastic single player mission mode which
saw you being forced to fight in a series of peculiar circumstances, for
example, in one fight you could only use throw moves, in another your
weapons were invisible. As you met these challenges you were awarded points
which were used to buy portraits, collect enough of these and you could
unlock hidden levels, new weapons, new characters and even more missions
to play. This level of depth set Soul Calibur apart from most other fighting
games in which the object was simply to win fights and then move on to
the next opponent.

Now in 2003 comes Soul Calibur 2, this time being released on Xbox, PS2
and GameCube. The version that I have been playing is on Xbox, though
all three versions are pretty much the same apart from a few little differences
in the graphics and a slightly different character line-up.

The main story of the game involves you travelling many distant lands
to retrieve “Soul Edge” a massive sword with evil powers.
Some of the characters are out to destroy the sword and rid the world
of its destructive powers, whilst others simply wish to harness its power
for themselves. The game features 20 playable characters (15 to start
with and 5 to unlock) all of which have their own unique abilities and
fighting style. Ranging from new characters to the series, such as Necrid
who is capable of morphing his weapon into that of his opponent, to Astaroth
a huge demon who wields a gigantic axe which is larger than most of the
other characters.

The first thing that struck me about this game was the graphics on the
characters themselves, an incredible amount of effort has been put into
the little things; like individual hair movements and even visible heartbeats
on some characters. Their movement is extremely fluid and lifelike and
they actually feel as heavy as they look which further adds to the realism.
Each character also has three different costumes to choose from. The backdrops
are equally as amazing with vast landscapes and detailed fighting areas
featuring running water and fantastic shadows and lighting. Of course
you won’t have much time to admire them once the fighting begins.

The sound effects are equally as great, with some lovely metal hitting
metal sounds when swords clash, and the thud of bodies hitting the floor
from a great height after a devastating combo move. It all sounds fantastic
on my surround sound system. The music is a bit of a let down with the
usual cheesy arcade style tunes playing in the background. Each level
and character is introduced by a voiceover which gives the game a more
cinematic quality.

The fighting itself gives you endless combinations of moves to create
yourself meaning that even the most experienced player will still find
new moves to impress with. Playing defensively has always been a good
idea with Soul Calibur games but in SC2 its all about timing. If you block
too early your opponent will be able to stop and wait for your defences
to fall before he attacks you. There are also some great counter attacks
which, if you can pull them off in time, make for some very intense fighting.
As you begin to master the game you will be able to pull off fake moves
to confuse your enemy before you move in for the kill. Like many fighting
games though you can also get ahead simply by bashing the buttons and
hoping for the best. This will lead to some frustrating two player battles
where one player is trying to master the moves and pull off tricky combos
while the other player pummels them into the ground by trying to press
as many buttons as they can as quickly as they can. However once you have
mastered the moves and you don’t need to look down at the control
pad every minute you will soon be able to dispose of these annoying people.

Unlike a lot of fighting games the fights in SC2 seem to flow nicely,
there is no bouncing around the screen at ridiculous heights here, jumping
moves are very limited forcing you to get straight into the real combat.
Each fighting arena is limited in size so you can actually knock your
opponent off the edge and into the water or lava or whatever happens to
be there, this causes you to automatically win the round. A great trick
to pull off when you are low on energy, but very annoying when it happens
to you.

To progress through this game in single player mode takes more brains
than brawn, the computer controlled enemies quickly become very difficult
to beat meaning you have to learn each ones individual fighting style
and look for cracks in their strategy. This game has lightening fast loading
times meaning that the story progresses nicely and leaves you raring to
get into the next battle.

SC2 does suffer some of the basic flaws of fighting games, you soon get
to see all the arenas and all the characters and if this bothers you then
you will soon find the game repetitive, if however you are a true beat
‘em up fan then you will look past this and concentrate on the game’s
fantastic fighting engine.

The sheer depth of the single player mode will keep you playing for hours
on end and with great two player options you are sure to come back to
this again and again. SC2 is definitely the best fighting game available
for the Xbox and beat ‘em up fans should not miss this great piece
of gaming history.

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