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  Review: Soul Calibur II
On 10/31/03 by Manveer 'Eidolon' Heir

Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco
Release Date: 08/27/03
ESRB: "T" for Teen
Official Site:
Platform(s): Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2
Played On: Xbox

In recent years, very few fighting games have intrigued me. I remember the days of playing Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter 2, and Virtua Fighter religiously. Unfortunately, those days are long over. It's not that good fighting games have ceased existence. Games such as Tekken and Marvel vs. Capcom have kept the genre alive and well, yet none of them have captured my attention for very long. Until now, that is. While I played the original Soul Calibur a fair bit for the Dreamcast, I didn't enjoy it as much as Soul Calibur II. Soul Calibur II is, simply, one of the best fighting games put out in recent memory.

Soul Calibur II features 20 fighters and a whole slew of combat arenas. Each fighter has about a dozen weapons they can wield in combat, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages (One of my favorites has to be Voldo's tambourines). However, the game only starts with the base weapons and only a portion of the fighters. To get all the fighters, weapons, and other features, you must play Weapon Master mode.

Weapon Master has a little over ten chapters, each containing multiple missions. In each chapter you must finish a series of missions to earn gold and experience. The gold and experience can be used to purchase and unlock secret items, which are then usable in the regular game. I found it enjoyable at first to go through and unlock everything, especially the new costumes and new characters. Instead of just playing my roommates or the computer, I was working towards something that added depth to the game. However after the first ten hours of playing Weapon Master, I started getting quickly bored and frustrated at the difficulty of some of the missions. It gets somewhat tedious to unlock everything in the game, but overall Weapon Master is an enjoyable addition to the game that extends the gameplay of Soul Calibur II. Soul Calibur II also features the other standard fighting modes as well. Arcade, Team Battle, Vs. Battle, and Survival are among the modes you can play. If you've played any fighting game in the last five years, you know what these modes are all about.

The combat itself is well balanced and executed. There are buttons for horizontal and vertical attacks, kicks, and blocks. No character has a single unstoppable move, and there are tons of options for combos and power moves. There are even ways to cause an enemy to stop guarding if they are constantly on the defensive. Soul Calibur II features a fair system of checks and balances, which make for a well balanced game. Each character has their own set of moves that you can easily find out by checking the command list in-game. There is enough depth to the combat and enough unlockable features to keep most gamers busy for a long time. If you like fighting games, you'll love Soul Calibur II.

Graphically, Soul Calibur II is vibrant and full of color. All of the characters are modeled with intricate detail, from the deadly blades of Voldo to the, now standard, jiggling breasts of the female fighters. Each character has a variety of costumes, so watching the different fighters on-screen never gets old. The combat arenas each have their own unique theme. Some are outdoors, others are indoors, but all of them have their own style and look. This is what makes Soul Calibur II a delight to look at; everything, from the look of the combat arenas, to the different fighters, to the different weapons, has a very unique and stylized look. This style that the game exudes is part of what makes it a delight to play.

This is not to say that there are no problems on the graphics front. Firstly, you won't fight in the snow or in the rain. From an aesthetics standpoint, this could have made the game look even better. I don't see any good reason why something like this wasn't included, except possibly performance problems (Which can usually be avoided with some handy programming). Another problem is the water, which doesn't look much like a fluid substance, surrounding some combat arenas. So much of fighting games are spent looking at the environment; this poor looking water is somewhat of a disappointment. Finally, there are a number of graphical glitches, most notably clipping problems. Sometimes walls just disappear and other times limbs and weapons magically permeate the floor. Little things like this can become a minor nuisance over time.

The sound is flat-out amazing. The voice-overs, however brief they may be, are well done. The sounds of weapons breaking the air are crisp and clear. The metal on metal clangs that are a staple of combat sound as you would expect them to. Soul Calibur II supports Dolby Digital 5.1, which should make many of you happy. What will make you even happier is to know that the game used the digital setup to its advantage. I could hear the little things, such as the sound of water trickling in the background and the sound of blazing fire. These little additions add to the overall ambiance of the game, which make it that much more engaging to play.

In a Word: Stylish

Word to the Publisher: Excellent job making one of the best fighting games ever.

Full Reviews:
  • GameTab - Reviews Index
  • GameSpot - 8.5/10
  • GameSpy - 96/100
  • Xbox.IGN - 9.2/10
Final Score: 90%
#1 - Megahurtz - 10/31/03 @ 02:29 PM EST
I like SC2 but it plays a little too much like SC1 for my tastes. I would have liked to seen the gameplay get a little bit mixed up to add some variety. I suppose a lot of people never owned a DC and got a chance to play SC1 though, so maybe its a good thing for them that it plays a lot like that game.
/ /
#2 - Skibadee - 10/31/03 @ 03:35 PM EST
This game is ace. My first PS2 game, and will be one of my favorites.

/ /
#3 - Talon - 10/31/03 @ 03:36 PM EST
I would have liked to see a harder game. I found the bulk of SC2, compared to 1 (which wasn't too hard... but not as easy as 2), to be a breeze.
/ /
#4 - Talon - 10/31/03 @ 03:36 PM EST
I would have liked to see a harder game. I found the bulk of SC2, compared to 1 (which wasn't too hard... but not as easy as 2), to be a breeze.
/ /
#5 - colinp - 10/31/03 @ 03:38 PM EST
i agree 100% with ya Megahurtz...
/ /
#6 - Cool_Cow - 10/31/03 @ 03:45 PM EST
I got it for Xbox. Best fighter Iv played since Super Street Fighter 2 on snes
#7 - sweetjimmy - 10/31/03 @ 04:29 PM EST

aside from that, this game is cool. I miss the good old days of samuri showdown where you could cut your oponent in half if you finished him with a powerful enough stroke. That was the shiznit, my nizzles.

/ my favorite guy is maxi, despite the obvious problem with his name. oh well, at least the character doesn't have wings i suppose.
#8 - BiomeXhanoid - 10/31/03 @ 08:02 PM EST
The game plays very little like Sc1.... while it's not nearly the leap from Edge to Calibur... it's still a very VERY different game than the first. Granted, there are ares that could be addressed... but considering that CRI was used, and the time frame for development and the exclusivity elements... as for balance.... Cervantes breaks the balance outright... though to be fiar to utilize his broken attacks you need to be keenly aware of timing and postion... there are also a couple of distinct changes to each character from the arcade version... most got a new move, or new properties to existing moves.
#9 - Blessedman - 10/31/03 @ 09:48 PM EST
ahhh SC1 was one fucking great game and the DC was flawless in its glory.
#10 - colinp - 10/31/03 @ 11:15 PM EST
eh, SC2 plays very much like SC1 if ya ask me, but whatever.
#11 - ZiggY - 11/01/03 @ 04:11 AM EST
Yeah, SC2 seemed pretty similar to SC1, perhaps *slightly* improved, I dunno. That wasn't really a problem for me though, since SC1 was the most perfect(for my tastes) fighter I had ever played.

I like Maxi and Nightmare(using the full Siegfried skin) a lot -those were my two faves in SC1- but my r/Talim. Nightmare is kinda slow and I can't ever seem to pull off his really good moves, and Maxi gets into big trouble for me if I start a major attack sequence and it's evaded/disrupted, but Talim seems to do just right for me. Fast attacks, good damage with either Soul Edge or Double Crescent weapons, and some good one-shot tricks that don't usually leave me hanging if they fail. My only problem with Talim is fighting Lizardman, who always seems to fuck my shit up.
#12 - Houdini - 11/01/03 @ 01:30 PM EST
ye/ould be fucking awesome.
as for SC2.. its fun, good for killing time, i enjoy it. looks beautiful

/ i agree with #3, but #4 is a fucking moron.
/ /
#13 - nemarsde - 11/01/03 @ 03:55 PM EST
A fair, well-reasoned review, which IMO captures a gamer's perspective as opposed to a reviewer's perspective. Thanks, Eidolon.

Also like the length of your paragraphs in contrained view. Whilst lacking the ergonomic, streamlined suppository-like ease of sweetjimmy's paragraphs, they don't quite reach the sheer ravenging girth of Bulldog's albino Masai warrior paragraphs.Last Edited on 11/01/03 @ 03:56 PM EST
/ /
#14 - Bulldog - 03/31/04 @ 04:56 PM EST
Actually laughed out loud @ that last comment.

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