Soul Calibur 2

GameCube

Review by Review Contest 2003!

Namco

Fighting

Graphics: 10

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 10


The original Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast has been called the greatest fighter ever by numerous gaming publications and websites. Too bad for me, I didnít get into the Dreamcast until after Sega went under, and by then, finding Soul Calibur for the system was damn near impossible with my lack of internet shopping (I donít trust the internet when shopping). So I missed out on Soul Calibur. So what I thought, it couldnít be that good. Then I played Soul Calibur 2. Instead of coming out for one system this time, Soul Calibur 2 was released for the GameCube, PS2, and Xbox, and each system had their own exclusive character to go along with the other 10 plus fighters. Being a Zelda fan and an overall supporter of Nintendo, there was no competition between the three systems that I was going to get it for. The GameCube had Link in his adult form, Xbox had Spawn, and PS2 got the worst deal of them all with an old man in a diaper. I canít compare between Soul Calibur and Soul Calibur 2, but Soul Calibur 2 is for sure a major hit for the GameCube, and definitely ranks up in the top 5 GameCube games. GameCube gamers just got one more game added to its excellent killer apps, and with a day after release of F-Zero GX, it might be hard for some people to decide which one to get. Personally, I say get BOTH.

Gameplay

There is a small story that provides a minimal backbone for SC2, but itís virtually the same as the first two games. Thereís a powerful sword called the Sword Blade. Thatís about all I know about the story, but since SC2 is a fighting game, thereís really no need to even pay attention to a story. Honestly, Iím not big on fighting games. Iíve played games like Mortal Kombat, Virtual Fighter, and Tekken occasionally, and have liked them for the most part (except the new Mortal Kombat, it REALLY sucked). Otherwise, I donít really touch fighting games. Why? I just get so frustrated in fighting games that Iíll quit like every 5 minutes. Then I played Soul Calibur 2. The gameplay was amazing, and I had so much fun I was up 6 hours straight playing it, trying out the different characters. SC2 is weapons based, so SC2 is basically a class of the weapons and who can best maneuver with them. There are tons of options in Soul Calibur 2, including the Arcade mode where you can go through the seven stages plus the boss with each character to unlock their character profile, VS. mode where you can pummel your friends or be pummeled, and the mode where next to Arcade youíll be spending most of your time Weapons Master.

SC2 is a weapons based fighter, so aside from kicks, weapons will clash aplenty. There are over 10 characters, and each character will have his/her own weapon. At first, each character only has one weapon to use. Weapons Master is a ďstoryĒ mode of sorts, where you can complete missions by fighting under certain circumstances, an d you can unlock new fighting modes, characters, weapons, and gain gold to buy more weapons. All the characters have more than 5 different weapons total, though you canít use them in the regular modes. In order to use the different weapons unlocked or bought in the Weapons mode, youíve got to unlock new "Extra" modes and such that will let you use the weapons. So for every mode there is like survival, arcade, time attack, etc., you can unlock an Extra of whatever mode so that you can use the different weapons that you've acquired in Weapons Master. It would have been kind of cool if you could switch weapons on the fly during fighting, though that would kind of spoil any kind of fighting strategy.

The fighting in SC2 can be summed up in one word - addicting. I donít know whether itís the weapons or the smooth controls, but SC2 is about as good of a fighter that the GameCube is going to get, or for the Xbox or PS2. Those who put the GameCube version down due to its tiny D-pad, get something else to put down. Hereís a simple solution - DONíT USE IT. The analog stick on the GameCube is the best out of Xbox and PS2, and so itís NOT hard at all to perform combination moves and such. While I do like the Xboxís D-pad when playing SC2, I can do just as well with the analog stick on the GameCube controller. There are 3 types of attacks, plus a grab/throw move. The grab/throw moves are really cool, and so going through each character and using their throws is mildly entertaining. The A button is your main attack with your weapon, the Y button is a vertical attack (up and down), and the X button is some sort of kick. In combination with the analog stick in different directions and different button pushes, you will get different combo attacks that produce different effects - like any fighter. The R trigger is block, and there are two types of blocking. By just holding the trigger, when youíre attacked with a weapon itíll be blocked. When hold ing the trigger and tapping left or right on the d-pad or analog stick, youíll dodge an attack and usually end up to the side or behind them, giving you a second and a half to get an attack in. Learning to protect that dodging block takes a lot of practice, because youíve got to time it just right.

To provide a little crutch for those with less skill at fighting games to pull off certain combos, different combos are assigned to the C-stick depending on which way you move it. Similar to hot keys in computer games, though is actually kind of cheap. Itís nice for those who arenít particularly skilled at fighting games, though I found absolutely no use for it and had an easier time actually pushing the buttons in the combo than using the cheat stick. Nothing big really, just a crutch.

The character line-up consists of more than 10 fighters, including 3 extra characters added that werenít in the Japanese release, and GameCube's exclusive character Link. Each character is fairly diverse in moves, and there are humans, as well as the freaky Voldo, Yoshimitsu, big and ugly Astaroth, Necrid, as well as others. If Link werenít in the game, Iíd have to say that Yoshimitsu is my favorite character. While slow at times, his combo attacks can be deadly, and I just like the overall feel of him as you fight. But as it is, Link is indeed in the game, so Link is my favorite fighter to use. Link was not overpowered, nor is he underpowered, but heís about the most versatile character in the game. He may have his boomerang, bow and arrow, and bombs, as well as his sword, but the boomerang, bow, and bombs are way too slow to get out. The boomerang lacks in distance, an arrow can be avoided simply by side stepping, and bombs just take way to long to get out. By the time you get the bomb out or start to get the bomb out and throw it, youíll have been attacked already, and so the process cancels. Learning to use Linkís character to the fullest though is probably the most fun challenge in the game.

I donít really care for the other characters much, and the weapons arenít really all that interesting aside from Maxiís numb chucks, but some of them are pretty cheap, therefore making the character cheap. Nightmareís giant sword is pretty cheap sometimes, but isnít really that big of a deal all the time. The main character Iím referring to is Kilik, who has a long staff, which is damn near impossible to get through to attack. When I was playing vs. with one of my friends, he used Kilik every time, and no matter which character I used, that damn staff prevented me from getting hardly any attacks in (then I started to fight cheap with cheap, using Linkís bombs non-stop while he was on the ground).

Graphics

Even on GameCube's little discs and packed with so many extras, the graphics in SC2 are gorgeous. There are minimal differences between the GameCube and Xbox versions, and even after playing both o f them, I still see no difference in between them aside from exclusive character. Canít say the same for the PS2 version though, frame rate dropped a lot and wasnít very consistent in other places. The GameCube version however keeps a very smooth frame rate, and if there were any drop in the game, it wasnít noticeable at all. Character design is really good and with plenty of detail, though I question what the hell Namco was thinking when they created Voldo. That is the WEIRDEST freaking creature I have ever seen, it reminded me of Timmy Long Stockings from Silent Hill 3 with Edwardís scissor hands. A rather odd combination if you ask me, as he also looks like a mummy, but heís got some awfully strong attacks.

The arenas in SC2 have tons of detail, though after awhile, they tend to get kind of boring. I like the designs, but I just wish the environments were destructible. Like thereís plenty of times where youíll be slammed into a wall, and so itíd been cool if an indention of cracks and stuff were left from where your body was slammed to.

Sound

The music in SC2 is admirable and easy to listen to, especially the music in the church arena, though the sound effects really get on my nerves. Like every time you beat a fighter, thereís an all time annoying scream, and if you keep going on with a combo after their health is out, itís just a constant ďAh! Ah! Ah!Ē. Itís quite annoying, and so I make sure that I donít continue beating the crap out of them once their healthís ran out (though I did it one time to show a friend how annoying it is, then again to get on his nerves). The sound effects are top notch. Every hit is heard, and the cling that the weapons make when they clash together never gets old of hearing (that is, if you manage to attack at the same time or block).

Overall

If not for all 3 systems, GameCube is one of the best games on the GameCube, and is the same for the Xbox. Iím not sure if I can say the same for the PS2 due to aging hardware, but on an overall level, despite what some people may say, the GameCube version is the best. Itís not necessarily because of Link, which is the first reason why I bought the GC version, but the GameCube controller is not that hard to use. Soul Calibur 2 is a collection of gaming goodness - great graphics and great gameplay. Buy the game, especially if youíve got friends, it will be a blast I can guarantee it. So between Virtual Fighter 4: Evolution and Soul Calibur 2, SC2 is the definite buy. VF4 may be good, but SC2 just has so much more that keeps you coming back for more time and time again.

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Last updated: Sunday, February 08, 2004 12:43 PM