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Platform

Dreamcast

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Namco

 

Developer

Namco

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 1999

 

 

- Spectacular visuals

- The soundtrack is amazing

- A ton of extra features

- Lots of characters

- Plenty of moves

 

 

- Kiss your free time good bye!

 

 

Review: Dead or Alive 3 (XBox)
Review: Dead or Alive 2 (Dreamcast)

Review: Bloody Roar 3 (Playstation 2)

 

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Soul Calibur

Score: 10 / 10

 

Over the years Namco has developed a reputation for making some of the most stylish and entertaining videogames on the planet. Whether it’s a racing game, an RPG, or a fighter, gamers have come to expect a great deal from this company. When Namco announced that they would be bringing Soul Calibur to the Dreamcast cheers could be heard echoing throughout the gaming community, all be it confused cheers (Namco making a game for their long time rival Sega? Get out of here!). Being a long time fighting game aficionado and a Sega supporter since the Genesis days, I could hardly wait for 9/9/99 to come around. Now that I’ve finally had the chance to play this game I may have a very hard time going back to any of my classic fighters.

 

Soul Calibur Dreamcast Review          Soul Calibur Dreamcast Review

 

The first thing that I noticed when I fired up Soul Calibur was the graphics. I know that a 128-bit system will yield far more impressive images, but the graphics for this game just knocked me off my feet. The images are so sharp that it almost defies belief. Namco really took advantage of the high-res abilities of the Dreamcast while porting Soul Calibur, before this game I had only seen graphics this vibrant on a 3D accelerated PC. The attention to detail is spectacular. The backgrounds of the various arenas are awe-inspiring; the water on the shores, flickering candles, and lens flares in arenas where the sun is shining (mmmmm…sweet, sweet lens flares). Looking off into the distance, the sense of depth is amazing. The mountains become more and more blurry the further away that they are from the battleground. What really stands out, though, is the detail that Namco put into the characters themselves. The character design is top-notch (Nightmare and Astaroth looked especially imposing). There are so many little things about the animation that add that extra bit of visual oomph, like Mitsurugi’s hair flowing according to how he’s running around the ring, or how the eye on Nightmare’s sword looks around. With such high quality graphics, onlookers may think they’re seeing a CG cut scene. To tie this visual splendor together Namco has also made sure that Soul Calibur runs at a silky-smooth 60 frames-per-second, graphically this game has all the bases covered.

 

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The controls are quite good, surprisingly. The responsiveness is excellent. You won’t find yourself with gnarled claws where your hands used to be after playing this game for several hours, the way the moves are set up you don’t really have to worry about the odd button and D-pad placement of the Dreamcast’s controller. Speaking of moves, there are plenty of them. It’s incredible watching your player dance across the screen as you pull off a wicked combo. Better still, you really have to earn these combos; button mashing just won’t pull off the most advanced maneuvers (unless it’s one heck 

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of a fluke). The best part about the controls is that anyone can pick it up and start playing. Button mashers can just thwack away, while fighting game veterans can craft breath-taking assaults (with a little practice of course). The characters are also more balanced than anything I’ve seen in a fighter. There are the huge behemoths, like Rock and Nightmare, lumbering about inflicting tremendous amounts of damage; if that’s not to your liking, you can choose one of the little speedsters, like Sophitia, and start darting around, slowly eating away your opponent’s energy. Even the weapons are well balanced, you can rush in headlong with Maxi for some up close combat, or you can fight from a distance with Kilik and his staff.

 

Soul Calibur Dreamcast Review          Soul Calibur Dreamcast Review

 

The sound effects in Soul Calibur fit like a glove. From the thuds of someone hitting the ground, to the swoop and clang of the weapons, the sounds add an amazing level of immersion. What’s also nice to see is that Namco opted not to translate the speech for the characters, instead they kept the Japanese voices intact and added subtitles, Astaroth already sounds incredibly menacing, while Xianghua has a sweet, innocent tone, so why mess with it? The music is as good as ever. Its film score vibe makes it a welcome change to the usual techno / modern music that has been in recent fighters, Ivy and Sueng Mina’s levels being exceptional examples.

Namco, not being satisfied to do a straight port, have also added a number of extras to the home version. Besides the usual Arcade Mode, Survival Mode, etc. they’ve added a Missions Mode. Here you’ll travel the world fighting under specific conditions, you may have to compensate for a strong wind, or your hit points may steadily drop as the fight progresses. When you win a bout you’re rewarded points that can be saved up, then spent to open up pictures in the Gallery. Some of these pictures are simply artwork, but when others are opened you also unlock new features or characters. If this doesn’t add replay value nothing will.

Now that Soul Calibur has been released it will, in all likely-hood, become the template by which all 3D fighters are compared. From the drop-dead gorgeous graphics to the tremendous depth in gameplay, this is the most amazing fighting game ever released.

Reviewed by Mr. Nash

 

(September 1, 2000)

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