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Soul Calibur II (GameCube) Review

Review for Soul Calibur II on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Soul Calibur 2, a game of swords and souls, expands upon past successes in the usual console upgrades, and the GameCube version inevitably does not disappoint fans of the series or fighting genre. The title continues in the traditional approach to sequels, the return of such evil that plagues a land, something which some seek to caress in demonic need or others to stop such people. Being the third entry into a tale and franchise, could such a game progress from previous sequels, or is it much the same?

The story continues from where it left off in the prequel, a mystical sword known as Soul Calibur appeared from the East where it's purity was rumoured to be able to destroy a weapon, corrupt with an evil spirit, known as Soul Edge. Warriors from across the world have sought the sword for their own personal gains, some using ultimate power for benefit, others interested in the prowess it contains and several want to protect the innocent from such corruption. Previously, on a mission from the gods, a brave hero shattered one of the two blades that formed the Edge. Tragically, this produced an opposite effect of the pure pugilist's intentions and the imbalance of power caused a spiral of malevolent energy to diffused into the world. The other sword possessed a German man, known as Siegfried, twisting and devouring all elements of good within, grasping and constricting his pure soul into a nightmare. Killings and massacres occurred for three years.

The sequel reveals twenty fighters who, as the tale reveals, embark on a journey to find the mystical Soul Edge once more, for power, heroic deeds or other inexplicable reasons. Based on more recent hardware than it's predecessor, the game excels in different areas, however the visual and gameplay aspects predominantly dominate as a whole. In terms of the graphical element, liquid smooth animation intoxicates vivid movement, which reflects upon the human personalities including their physical attributes – height, weight, age – all portrayed in a realistic way. Individuals have intricate facial details, including the sensations upon the skin tones and shadows that keep the game to an unsaturated realism. Although the overall atmosphere varies throughout, the general feeling is of the vibrant oriental nature and the attention to facial construction, minor reflections on the face and body allow for characters to appear subtle, without major exaggerations.

Parts of the figure, weaves of hair, folds on clothing and the smallest facial complexions can be noted to change according to the surroundings players are confined within. With the calm mountain air to the vicious Hollywood ‘quick sand’, characters act and seem to suit their milieu instead of separated from it. Instead of stages that have been toned down from characters in other similar games, each location has been modelled to interact with foreground players and both complimenting each other in terms of the way they appear on screen and the lighting used throughout.

Screenshot for Soul Calibur II on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The lighting provides subtle changes in the ways characters are presented on screen adding the extra hint of realism to allow for backing areas to become dynamic rather than static. Within the daunting darker levels, dungeons or being imprisoned within a cage, for example, the setting alters to a more sinister approach with the graphical aspect changing to reflect the atmosphere. Instead of designing the areas to be confined within preset square based arenas as previous versions had done, level designers decided to open up locations into the distance to provide the realistic fighting approach to battles. From the textured floor titles, to the intricate detail on temple roofs – each level is unique in construction and not based upon the same size and shape as others, and in terms of appearance can vary the ambience of fights considerably.

From an animation standpoint, the capabilities of more recent home console hardware has allow the movement, action and fluidity of fights to be more refined in comparison to other versions or similar titles. Each stance, attack of a character’s weapon, excessive spring of chest areas on female characters, deflection and movement is near human perfection with physical dynamics influencing character speed. As for the attacks themselves, the weapon properties and the fighter’s build do influence the speed to provide a unique feel to a character’s style and attack, but executed in a very subtle approach creating a balanced action system. Weapon sets have been moulded into each character’s build and fighting style, with the same level of detail in the models and backing scenery. Intricate patters, small damages and imperfections stain specific player’s arsenal helping to provide a feel for the character in relation to their fighting styles. Larger players use weapons that, due to their design, appear heavy, strong and worn – smaller, more nimble opponents use their strong but light weight swords or daggers to outwit their foes.

In comparison to the previous edition on the Dreamcast, its successor manages to refine certain areas of the graphical aspect to the game. The animation, although similar in attributes to past versions, is slightly smoother with the additional fluidity of attacks and the movement on screen providing somewhat better presentation on the new hardware, whether it be the Nintendo GameCube, Sony Playsation 2 or the Microsoft Xbox, the title still retains the qualities in each. However, the version on Nintendo hardware cannot be differentiated from others with a quick comparison, however there are certain unique characteristics of the GameCube edition that governs over others.

Screenshot for Soul Calibur II on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

In terms of the gameplay aspect, there are a multitude of options to use at first glance, but the traditional modes still remain intact. From the single player arcade mode, to the harder survival and weapon master editions, the title has included the standard modes but also refinements of others. The arcade mode presents randomly selected fights to precede the set endings for specific characters, each varying upon the difficulty level. Once the standard selection of fights has been completed, a penultimate 'destined battle' to the final boss approaches being specific to individual fighter's storylines. The concluding fight, however features the encounter with pure evil known as Inferno, providing the traditional manga based approach with three different forms. The endings, unlike previous editions, are subtler than the rest, but do provide an account of each character's relevance to the story. Although the standard arcade mode is essential for practise of skills under battle conditions, there is enough variation to retain interest, however other modes provide challenges with more profundity, notably the Weapon Master mode.

The home console version features the additional option, which inevitably is a quest for players to develop their skills under specific conditions in a similar style to traditional RPG title due to a constant progression of skill, power and levels. However, unlike the weapon mode of the original, Soul Calibur 2 allows players to advance through a longer quest, but allowing all characters and their weapons to be used. Although this could provide certain bias and only favoured fighters being used, it could also establish certain skills being employed that are unique to different characters within the game. Unlike the original version also an interactive shop allows weapons, modes and additional costumes to be unlocked for characters, but a different catalogue for each of the various chapters during the quest. The levels within each chapter hold diverse challenges which can range from a simple battle against characters that have certain increased attributes such as speed, strength and weapon type. Contests can become more complex with certain time limits, hit ranges and character deformations being obstacles to progress to the next chapter, with each win or loss providing experience for level succession and gold to spend within the shop. Apart from the basic challenges is an addition to Soul Calibur 2, which occasionally can be a hindrance, allowing players to select a specific character to try and conquer dungeon-based locations. Fights occur on each part of a chain of various battles until a boss is met and defeated to often unlock additional secrets not available to purchase. However, in a similar aspect to the original, there are certain features and weapons for characters that can only be accessed when completing specific levels during the quest, and also several hidden locations to extend the challenge further.

Along with the major modes are several extended varieties of the time attack and survival, which provide an alternative to standard fights, which, when set to extreme, can prove exceedingly challenging and satisfying to conquer. Also, the additional museum mode available, along with several extras, provides a more complete characteristic to the game. Character profiles and demonstrations present a unique look at each main fighter's background, their level and even a selection of hilarious voice samples. A selection of artwork can be viewed which reveal initial designs, concept art and various game exclusive images, also establishing a more complete feeling.

Screenshot for Soul Calibur II on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The fights themselves are, as the graphical aspect suggests, incredibly fluid and realistic in the sense that the restrictions on moves are not as brutal or exaggerated as other fighting titles available on the market today. The character interaction is notable, with contact of fighting moves being as convincing as the prequels but with a slightly increased emphasis on speed and defensive manoeuvres. There is a selection of fighters available, each with distinct fighting styles providing a variety in the ways in which characters interact on screen. Controlling contact is simulated on the GameCube controller very well, with the available option of using the d-pad or analogue stick, and the latter emulating an arcade stick in a smooth way. Moves are simple to carry out for beginners to the series, but developing combos are made easy by the fluidity of weapon contact with opponents. However, unlike several other titles, experienced players can use the eight-way movement to outwit foes, and the camera boosts the experience accordingly. Although there are several minor flaws in terms of the camera in certain situations, and several other character's contact between others being unresponsive in a few battles.

The Gameplay aspect of Soul Calibur 2 does inevitably feel more complete than its predecessors, but does not expand as much as fans of the series had expected. However, the title retains the successful formula from the previous editions, with an update in style for the next generation.

The sound array also continues from the previous versions of Soul Calibur 2 in the traditional style with contemporary music adding to the surrounding atmosphere. Upon the hilltop mountain temple, the tone is brisk, however within the dungeons, the tone is mysterious, something's not quite right and the composition of background songs add to the fighting atmosphere suiting the levels and characters they portray exceedingly well. Although the genres that they fall into isn't a universal preference, there is the sense of bringing a player into a fight and sometimes can define the ways and style in which battles are carried out. The effects used are subtle and there is a choice in the style of voice- over used, Japanese or American English, the latter seeming to ruin the more traditional approach, however both providing an excellent selection of phrases that again add to the fights and aren't overly used.

In terms of lifespan, the title has replay value in the single player aspect with records to be attained and several extra modes to carry out along the weapon master option expanding on the previous successes, perhaps not in terms of being able to develop and use each character in turn, but for the level of difficulty. The version in Soul Calibur 2 develops on previous editions with an additional level of depth and extra events/modes of play encouraging replay value in that respect, but also the versus options are available for those who wish to carry out tournaments, single battles or a competitive team battle.

Soul Calibur 2 retains the successful formula from past editions but expands and refines certain areas of the series with a style update for next generation consoles. Although there has not been as much enhancement as fans expected in the gameplay department, the additions and minor changes are notable. With near perfection there are minor faults in the game notably the camera as well as connection problems. However, the traditional gameplay with a modern approach will intoxicate and keep fighting veterans returning to conceive new techniques and ways of playing. Overall, the sequel on the GameCube is not without blemishes, but manages to embrace a fighting game with the classic gameplay, and an excellent update for the next generation.

Screenshot for Soul Calibur II on GameCube- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Following up from 2 acclaimed titles, the gameplay is refined, compelling and is suited to the genre Soul Calibur 2 falls in. Although certain challenges can become tedious at times, overall the gameplay remains strong throughout.

Graphics

Excellent textures on the character clothing and models, as well as the surrounding area interacting and seeming part of the fight rather can a background to play upon. The animation is liquid tight and without a hint of retardation or distortion.

Sound

Various backing tracks used to convey the feeling of the level, and the location/country it takes place within, there is a real sense of the music helping the fight progress. The vocals and effects are used in a subtle manner and not excessive enough to prove an hindrance.

Value

The main wepon mode is a progressive challenge, and Soul Calibur 2 gently introduces the game's mechanics and keeps the action fluid. Aimed at beginners and experts alike, Soul Calibur 2 has a plethora of features to keep players returning for more.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

A game that had been acclaimed by the press and fans of the series; something which had been plagued by an immense amount of hype, but the question was if the game had lived up to its reputation and indeed it has. However, not in terms of being a sequel whereby alterations would have occurred, but in the ways features have been refined or expanded upon and still in keeping with the successful formulae that makes Soul Calibur what it is.

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04.10.2003

4

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Also known as

Soul Calibur II

Developer

Namco

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Fighting

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (59 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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SC2 is the best SC made. Sadly I found the sequels to be disappointments.

Wii Code: 6399-3866-6269-0745
PSN: SherWiinator Currently playing: LOZ: SS
Wishlist: Last Story, Pandora's tower, Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3

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