The first I played of the Soul series (not to be confused with the Dark/Demon’s Souls) is when I played the very first one on the Playstation when it was called “Soul Edge”.
It was the second 3D fighting game to prominently feature the use of weapons in combat and while it was rough around the edges (get? GET IT?! I’m sorry), it was still a solid fighter. However, when SoulCalibur released for the Dreamcast, it managed to turn heads with its superb graphical fidelity along with great mechanics that added layers of depth and strategy to the title.
When SoulCalibur II released, it was riding such a long coat tail of hype that it’s impressive that it even managed to meet such high expectations. Over ten years later, it’s released once more with sharper graphics and online play but without much else, it resolves itself to just being an old classic that’s aged well and not much more.
SoulCalibur II harkens back to the days where the series wasn’t caught up in elaborate super moves or unnecessary mechanics that add very little to the actual enjoyment of the title.
High, lows- horizontal and vertical attacks with guard crush/impact system all make sense immediately and while they are easy to grasp, they’re very difficult to master.
Such is the mark of an exceptional fighter in that it’s as fun to play for beginner as it is for a hardened veteran.
I’ve nothing but praise for the way SoulCalibur II plays and I’m happy to report that it has aged very well. In fact, given the choice between playing their latest installment or this one, I would easily choose to play SoulCalibur II any day of the week.
Outside of the minor addition of the previously console-exclusive characters Heihachi and Spawn for any version of the game, the main change is the addition of online multiplayer. While I was only able to test the netcode against one other player (in Italy of all places), I found the game to be highly playable even if I wasn’t able to get the guard impacts just right.
It’s unclear how good or bad the netcode is just through that limited test but given Namco’s recent efforts with the amazing netcode in Tekken Tag Tournament 2, I would wager that it ought to be adequate at the very least.
While the actual title fares well in the modern age, the biggest problems with SoulCalibur II HD lie in its limited added content and price point.
At the price point of $19.99, the only function of any real substance added to this title is the addition of multiplayer, which is great but given HD releases of other fighters have come and gone recently at a better price point with much more added content, it feels a bit pricy.
In fact, it’s no exaggeration that a new copy of SoulCalibur V could be acquired for less than that price with ease.
Perhaps if the title was a SoulCalibur classic HD and included both SoulCalibur 1 and 2, it would be easier to stomach but as it stands now, I would say waiting for a price drop would be recommended.
If you would call yourself a SoulCalibur purist and long for the days where you could show off how good you were in SoulCalibur II to everyone in the world, this might be for you, otherwise it’s just another cash grab HD re-release with very little new substance.
Fun Tidbit: Weapon Master mode is still fun and addictive, it’s odd that they took out that function in latter SoulCalibur games.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.