Soul Calibur 2

a game by Namco Ltd.
Platforms: GameCube, XBox, Playstation 2
Editor Rating: 7.8/10, based on 4 reviews
User Rating: 5.5/10 - 8 votes
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The U.S. versions of 3D fighter Soul Calibur II have been stunting productivity in our offices since June--pretty soon, you're gonna be just as screwed as we are. Because there are some games you play when you can find the time, and then there are games you rearrange your life around. Soul Calibur II is the latter. So clear your schedule; you've got a can't-miss appointment with an undead pirate, a busty ninja, and a weirdo dressed with lots of flair. When the original Soul Calibur came out on Sega Dreamcast, it was the best fighting game we'd ever played--and we're not qualifying that with an "arguably," because there was no argument (almost four years later, only Virtua Fighter 4 and MF4: Evo--see page 115--can compare). Calibur was a huge step forward from its predecessor, Soul Blade, and not just because it looked beautiful; it was amazingly deep, especially for a weapons-based fighting game. Unfortunately, Dreamcast's early demise (and the dying arcade scene) meant that most gamers never got to train with Soul Calibur.

But now, for the one guy out there who didn't already know, Soul Calibur II is coming to all three consoles (each version has minor differences and an exclusive character--see pg. 104 for details). Take the phone off the hook and put out the "do not disturb" sign--the wait is finally over. Our souls, at least, still burn. Can't speak for yours.

People say:

[comment="Screw it, I'll say the unspeakable: When this swordslinger stepped onto the scene, it eviscerated all comers, Virtua Fighter 4 included, and squatted to drop a deuce on their headstones. Soul Calibur II became my sensei overnight, and I've been abusing buttons ever since. With this sequel, Namco chose to refine its previous work rather than rethink the series' already superb design. SC2 is anything but a lamp-heated rehash of last generation's leftovers (and not only because many of you missed Cali's debut). This fighter's been training in secret for years and emerges from its sword school a leaner, faster, more lethal samurai, subtly improved in most every aspect. Anyone can appreciate SC2's unmatched visual polish. And the screenshots you've been staring at all summer only hint at this baby's breathtaking beauty. You've seen the flashes that follow blades as they arc through the air. You've studied the stills of elegant arenas where sunlight filters through stained glass, curves around columns of cold marble, and kisses Ivy's perfect breasts. But it's what you haven't seen that'll really blow you away. The animation is unbelievable. It's fast and fluid, making even over-the-top moves seem totally convincing. Watching a petite Talim deflect a blow from Astaroth's king-sized ax and stagger clear across the stage under a shower of sparks is all the proof you need."] [comment="Namco's strategy of refinement carries over to Soul Calibur II's roster of characters as well. Series fans will be thrilled to see their favorite duelists back in action (sultry dominatrix Ivy's chain-whip punishments never looked so sexy, and gimpy Voldo's undulations are more disturbing than ever). Most of the returning characters pack new moves, combos, and stances, and the whole group has been rebalanced to weed out any unfairness. If you're new to the Calibur club, you'll be immediately impressed--this series has always been about stylish guys and gals wielding impressive weapons, and it's a blast just to explore the intricacies of each available avatar. Sure, the fighting styles are fanciful, but these magically delicious maneuvers look so damn cool that you likely won't obsess over the lack of martial arts feasibility. If you're a series vet like me, however, you'll probably be a tinge disappointed by the lack of fresh faces. Although each console's version of SC2 offers a total of 23 characters (once you've unlocked all the secret ones), realistically only three of them are fundamentally new: prissy fencer Raphael, sprightly tonfa babe Talim, and each system's exclusive character (see above). Of those three bonus dudes, Link and Spawn fit in the best--each has a nifty blend of special moves that seem right at home in the Calibur realm. Tekkeris Heihachi, however, is a sad old man whose pathetic punches have no place in a weapon-based fighter. The other new dudes, Cassandra, Necrid, Yunsung, and Charade, are all loosely based on pre-existing characters and movesets from the older games. Still, the total number of characters is sufficiently massive and the variety wide, so I can't complain that much. Air Control, Guard Impacts, and all these other techniques in your holster, you can spend weeks training with just one character. I've played my share of fighting games, believe you me, and none of them has come close to the depth SC2 has. This versatility, however, is perhaps SC2's biggest weakness. Naturally, fighting games are meant to be played with friends, and if you don't have an opponent of your skill level, you won't enjoy the melees, no matter how good they look. Shawn and I, for example, have played so much that we're incorporating mind games into the mix: psych-outs, delayed moves, canceled attacks.... But if we pulled any of that business on a casual player, we'd be sending him home crying for his Mortal Kombat 1. You definitely gain an infinite amount of appreciation for this game if you and your opponent-friends grow into it at the same pace and experience levels."] [comment="So is Soul Calibur II for you solitary types? Well, its Weapon Master mode spices up solo play with a series of duels fought in special circumstances, and it rewards your troubles with a trove of unlockable treasures, including 10 additional weapons for each warrior. Equipping the latter not only makes you look sharp (check out Voldo's hedge clippers or Astaroth's ornate choppers), but it also enhances your attacks. None of it can replace flesh-and-blood sparring partners, but it's a nice bonus. On the other hand, I agree with Shoe; SC2 isn't meant to be played strictly solo anymore than chess is, but like that paragon of deep gaming, it's no less brilliant for the loss. And thankfully, this fighter differs a bit from other hardcore brawlers in that beginners can have a blast, too. Even if, off the bat, you're not the best samurai to draw a sword, you'll be determined to become one."] [comment="'m not overly impressed by SC2's single-player game. Versus mode never gets old, but I don't always have dorks like Shoe and Shawn around to challenge. The Weapon Master stuff offers unlocking thrills for a few hours, but it's over way too quickly, and it's too simple to open up all the stuff with little effort. I sincerely wish that SC2 had taken a page from Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution's Quest mode--not only can you customize your characters with more than 1,500 unique accessories, but you can also fight insanely tough A.I. opponents based on Japan's best tournament players. Limitless challenge and discovery are sorely lacking in Calibur."]

10

If there's a sharper-looking console game than SC2,1 haven't seen it. Although the new arenas lack the ambitious scale of, say, Dead or Alive 3, they're anything but flawed. Small stages keep tactical players sharp--a thorough grasp of evasive techniques can and will save you from ring-outs--and the larger levels give newbies a needed break. What's wrong with that?

9

Regardless, the gameplay is absolutely killer. It's so well balanced and finely tuned that you will definitely appreciate it more and more the longer you play. Each seemingly cheap move or combo has a perfectly accessible counter, so this game really lets you show off your skills. Astaroth's powerful throws got you down? Escape them. Taki's lightning-quick combos too fast? Interrupt them. Kilik's long staff keeping you at bay? Walk (or rather, eight-way run) around it. You get the idea.

10

Ultimately, this is a game that you should run out and buy, especially if you have someone around who's willing to go the distance with you in Versus mode. It'll undoubtedly keep you up till 3 a.m. crying "uno mas" in bleary-eyed splendor for a few months after release. Will it be your favorite fighting game of all time? Maybe, maybe not. In any case, it's a keeper.

BECOME A WEAPON MASTER

Odds are that you won't always have a friend/loved one/random stranger to battle in Soul Calibur II's awesomely addictive Versus mode, so you'll likely be stuck clashing souls solo. Realistically, the Arcade mode will only hold your interest for so long-eight quick matches, a fight with boss Inferno, and it's over. Luckily, there's a whole other single-player experience that's incredibly rewarding: Weapon Master mode. Here, you make your way across a simple map fighting special events to win coffers of cash and fabulous prizes. Each match features a clever concept that mixes up the traditional swordplay; examples include fights where you're poisoned, battles among landmines, and tense melees where a gust of wind could toss you out of the ring. You'll also encounter "dungeon" areas that are a bit of a drag--no exploration, no mystery, just a succession of normal matches accessed from a dungeon map.

Fighting through the various stages, but spending your prize money on fabulous unlockables makes it even more worthwhile. Alternate costumes, art galleries, special weapons, and a bevy of extra modes are yours for the taking. The weapons are especially cool, as many have unique properties, like increased attack power or the ability to heal you. Be sure to snag each character's snicker-worthy final special weapon--seeing Link swat fools with a butterfly net, Seung Mina bust out a broom, or Voldo shake a mean tambourine is pure comedy gold. Plus, you can use these zany weapons in the unlockable Extra Versus mode.

Overall, while the victory spoils definitely impress, Weapon Master mode is too easy to offer long-term challenge. Dedicated players will unlock everything in one hefty session, especially if they exploit challenges like Chapter Nine's second stage (where you win a whopping 30,000 Gold) by playing it over and over.

Download Soul Calibur 2

GameCube

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

XBox

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Playstation 2

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Our last visitation to the Soul Calibur arena was on a beautiful little console title for the Dreamcast. A better than arcade perfect translation of the coin-op game of the same name, it rather delighted in giving us an experience to rival what we'd had playing Soulblade. After a few years of waiting, the world has now received Soul Calibur 2, released simultaneously for three different consoles, with a unique character on each.

We've already reviewed the Xbox version of Soul Calibur 2, and you can also find our PS2 review. The Gamecube version is nearly identical, and in many ways, responds just the same way you'd expect, save for minor differences. First, the unique Gamecube character is Link, of Zelda series fame. He plays just as you'd expect from a popular Nintendo character released on a fighting game, down to having his signature moves copied almost straight over. Players familiar with Ivy or Mitsurugi should have no problem with Link, as he is best used switching between his different fighting stances. However, unlike the sheathed sword of Mitsurugi, or the spinning whip sword of Ivy, Link gets the bomb, boomerang, and arrow stance, letting him attack with those all too familiar weapons. He's also equipped with a nasty set of spinning moves which are reminiscent of his power attacks from the original Zelda titles, and as he hasn't yet been voiced on a console, you'll find him saying nothing here, spoken for only with the grunts and cries used for special effect. My favorite moment was when I first won a match using Link, and heard the familiar Zelda power-up sound.

The Gamecube controller is not well suited for a game like Soul Calibur 2. While it has the four buttons necessary to play the game, the sliding grip on the shoulder buttons makes for poor controls of a special attack bound to one of those controls. Additionally, with off size buttons, the Gamecube controller favors a style of gameplay that doesn't suit a game that requires you to handle three separate attacks, along with a guard control.

Last but not least, the game gives a good visual showing, even though it obviously cannot stand up to the power of the Xbox version. Lost detail and quality of picture was minor, in my opinion, and in some ways, it makes one wonder if each version of the game was made more homogenic, sacrificing some of the graphic potential of the Xbox in order to make each game worth playing.

All in all, I wouldn't recommend this title unless you only had a Gamecube. If so, it'll be hard to learn, but ultimately, Soul Calibur 2 is one of the more enjoyable fighting games out there.

When the Dreamcast launched back in the summer of '99, there was one game that really stood out among the launch titles: Soul Calibur. With polished graphics that still look fantastic to this day, an easily accessible fighting engine that was deep enough to appeal to the hardcore crowd, and an epic orchestral sound track, it's no surprise that Soul Calibur is often claimed the best 3D fighting game among critical circles. More than three years later, the long-awaited sequel to Soul Calibur has finally arrived stateside and is a worthy successor in the Soul Calibur franchise.

Although most 3D fighters focus on hand-to-hand combat, Soul Calibur II sticks to its roots of frantic weapon-based combat. The fighting engine is easy to get into, and button-mashers can pull fantastic looking moves within a few a minutes of play. On the flipside, it's also incredibly deep, with enough subtle nuances that can take months to master. Attacks are limited to vertical and horizontal attacks, kicks, and guarding, but that doesn't make it any less strategic. Guarding, ring outs, wall combos, and the 8-way run system make SCII much more than a simple button-masher. Most importantly, it's just a load of fun with a lot to do. The fighting is fast and fluid and with over ten modes of play, the replay value is almost unlimited, especially with a few friends.

Out of the three version of SCII, the Xbox version is arguably the best, although not by much. Aside from a few framerate issues on the PlayStation 2, the visual differences between the three are negligible. Unless you have a home theatre setup that can take advantage of the 720p format and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, you really can't go wrong with any of the versions.

Graphically, the leap from Soul Blade (the first installment in the series) to Soul Calibur was huge'it's like comparing a finger-painting of a 5-year old to the Mona Lisa. The leap from Soul Calibur to Soul Calibur II, however, isn't as big. SCII does look better, but it doesn't induce jaw-dropping like Soul Calibur did back in '99. Regardless, everything looks spectacular ' from the beautiful animation to the lush and complex backdrops. Likewise, the attention to detail and the overall style really makes SCII pleasing to look at.

Bland techno or rock riffs are common staples of fighting games, but SCII takes a much more elegant route and utilizes an orchestral soundtrack. Simply put, it works wonderfully. The voice acting is spot on as well, with numerous lines for each character in both Japanese and English.

Even though Soul Calibur II is more of the same in many ways, it's still a very solid fighter. It hasn't revolutionized the genre like Soul Calibur did in 1999, but 'The Soul Still Burns,' strong enough that fighting fans, hardcore or casual, should do themselves a favor and check out Soul Calibur II.

When the Dreamcast launched back in the summer of '99, there was one game that really stood out among the launch titles: Soul Calibur. With polished graphics that still look fantastic to this day, an easily accessible fighting engine that was deep enough to appeal to the hardcore crowd, and an epic orchestral sound track, it's no surprise that Soul Calibur is often claimed the best 3D fighting game among critical circles. More than three years later, the long-awaited sequel to Soul Calibur has finally arrived stateside and is a worthy successor in the Soul Calibur franchise.

Although most 3D fighters focus on hand-to-hand combat, Soul Calibur II sticks to its roots of frantic weapon-based combat. The fighting engine is easy to get into, and button-mashers can pull fantastic looking moves within a few a minutes of play. On the flipside, it's also incredibly deep with enough subtle nuances that can take months to master. Attacks are limited to vertical and horizontal attacks, kicks, and guarding, but that doesn't make it any less strategic. Guarding, ring-outs, wall combos, and the 8-way run system make SCII much more than a simple button-masher. Most importantly, it's just a load of fun with a lot to do. The fighting is fast and fluid and with over ten modes of play, the replay value is almost unlimited, especially with a few friends.

Aside from each console's exclusive character, the differences between the three versions of SCII aesthetically are little. The PlayStation 2 ends up on the bottom rung, however, as there are some noticeable framerate issues. However, the Dual Shock 2 is better suited for fighting games. Whatever the choice is, you really can't go wrong with any version of Soul Calibur II.

Graphically, the leap from Soul Blade (the first installment in the series) to Soul Calibur was huge'it's like comparing a finger-painting of a 5-year old to the Mona Lisa. The leap from Soul Calibur to Soul Calibur II, however, isn't as big. SCII does look better, but it doesn't induce jaw dropping like Soul Calibur did back in '99. Regardless, everything looks spectacular ' from the beautiful animation to the lush and complex backdrops. Likewise, the attention to detail and the overall style really makes SCII pleasing to look at.

Bland techno or rock riffs are common staples of fighting games, but SCII takes a much more elegant route and utilizes an orchestral soundtrack. Simply put, it works wonderfully. The voice acting is spot on as well, with numerous lines for each character in both Japanese and English.

Even though Soul Calibur II is more of the same in many ways, it's still a very solid fighter. It hasn' revolutionized the genre like Soul Calibur did in 1999, but 'The Soul Still Burns,'? strong enough that fighting fans, hardcore or casual, should do themselves a favor and checkout Soul Calibur II.

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