For most of the gaming community this phrase will be etched into your mind for the remainder of your life. The incredible intro to the late PSX title Soul Blade (or Edge if you so prefer) was the beginning of a fighting game revolution that would sweep an unsuspecting nation of gamers. A few short years later the second coming had arrived, being developed for the ill fated Dreamcast, Namco crafted one of the finest fighting games that has ever graced a console. Soul Calibur still to this day is played in homes across America, the one reason everyone owns a Dreamcast is still burning. Now four years and many screenshots later the sequel has arrived, being developed for all the major consoles this time around gave Namco the ability to touch every gamer with it’s miraculous fighting game. The burning question on everyone’s mind is, “Can it truly surpass the original??”. That question can only be answered after you play the game but for now you will have to suffice with my in-depth review of what could easily be the best fighter of 2003…Soul Calibur 2 for the Nintendo Gamecube.
Kilik It One More Time!
The first thing you will notice when you finally boot up your copy of SC2 is that the game has been given a facelift. Character sport more polys and the lighting is much nicer on the newer consoles but props to the DC, the game isn’t that much of an improvement over the last one. The environments seem almost ripped from the original with a few added touches and more attention to detail but the overall feel is the same. This of course is a good thing, how does the phrase go, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Cube version seems to be very nicely polished and the frame rate rarely ever suffers. Compared to the XBox and PS2 versions it can hold it’s own being edged out barely by the XBox but not by much. The characters also seem to have been given a slew of new animations bringing to life a game that was already a masterpiece. Graphically this game still looks better than 99% of fighters on the market today but then again so does the DC version.
Picking up SC2 will be very easy for veterans of the first game, the layout is identical and no matter which console you have the controls are still flawless. Maneuvering the Cube controller took a few seconds to decipher but after two to three rounds I had the button layout memorized and was whooping ass immediately. Characters retain almost all of their old moves with a few tweaks here and there, for instance Ivy is now much more balanced. So not only does she look cool it is now ok to use her heh. Namco has also mapped a few special moves onto the c-stick, for example Link can draw his arrows, bombs, and boomerang with a quick tap of the c-stick. That brings me to the special characters, each version of SC2 sports a console specific character. Xbox gets Spawn (which kicks serious ass), Cube gets Link (who fits into the SC universe so damn well), and PS2 gets Heihachi……..ROFLMFAO!!! Sorry but honestly that is THE worst character to put in this game and I could have chosen a million better options.
Replacing the infamous Edge Master mode is the new and improved Weapon mode, this is very similar to EM in that you must achieve certain goals to win each fight. Things like health depletion, sinking arena floors, and dungeons to crawl through are some of the tasks you will need to complete to earn Gold. The Gold is spent on new weapons for the fighters as well as bonus artwork and the like. Unlocking everything this game has to offer could take months but trust me it never gets old. The new weapons can also be used in the Extra Arcade and Time Attack modes that become unlocked as you progress through the game. So the weapons are not useless collection pieces ala SC.
The music in Soul Calibur has always been of the highest caliber (haha great pun! errr ok sorry) and SC2 is no different. The dramatic fight anthems will drive you to lay down that chain combo in perfect harmony. Of course a purchase of the soundtrack is required, c’mon I bought it and so should you. The most notable music in the game is definitely the Zelda theme, when you make it to Link’s final battle the tune will give you goosebumps. Hearing the universally recognizable harmony will have you humming along whilst kicking mucho ass with the long eared one himself. The voices are also nicely done, to make a confession here I sit in the Character Profile screen and make each fighter say each line of dialogue so I can watch the great mouth movements, oh and to watch Link’s hilarious facial expressions. Overall the audio is astounding and it’s presented in Cube fashion (man that line is getting old, gotta get me a new one) Dolby Pro Logic II.
The Soul Still Burns.
I am sure that reading a review of this game is pointless, in fact why are you even considering buying the game?? Get your asses to the local import shop and grab a freeloader and a copy of SC2 for the Cube. Importing has never been easier so there is no excuse. Well worth the wait and more than satisfying to the SC fans across the globe. Finally a sequel that does everything the first one did and everything it added was just as stellar. I kept the review short and simple as to not waste any possible play time I might have with the game, highly recommended!