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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Namco

 

Developer

Namco

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

August 26, 2003

 

 

- Link!

- Big, bright and fast action

- For button mashers and nuance players

- Lots of unlockables and different weapons

- The Weapon Master mode adds positive challenge

 

 

- Can succumb to stagnation unless youíre playing with a buddy

 

 

Review: Soul Calibur II (XB)

Review: X-Men - Next Dimension (GC)

Review: Godzilla - Destroy All Monsters Melee (GC)

Review: Ultimate MUSCLE - The Kinnikuman Legacy (GC)

 

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Soul Calibur II

Score: 8.9 / 10

 

Soul Calibur II (SC2) offers a slew of reasons to go out and buy it.  The graphics are big, the action smooth and the fighting intense.  Two other reasons: fighting games arenít a deep genre on the GameCube and the inclusion of Hyruleís biggest celebrity, Link.

 

If youíre a fan of the fighting genre, youíll know all about Soul Caliburís history Ė the Dreamcast debut, etc. and so on.  Thatís not really important to SC2 because itís not like thereís a complex interweaving of subtle plots from previous installments.  And really, have fighting games ever been renowned for their intriguing character and plot development?  No, fighting games are about beating the snot out of your opponent as quickly and as spectacularly as possible.

 

soul calibur 2 gamecube review          soul calibur 2 gamecube review

 

Without sounding too preachy, there are two kinds of fighting fans: nuance and button-masher.

 

Nuance players are all about subtle moves, strategy, reflexes, and just a dash of daring.  SC2 offers loads for the nuance player.  There are 20 characters to choose from and they all have their ups and downs to master.  Using a character like Astaroth give you plenty of oomph! but heís slow, making him an incredibly big target for the more speedy characters like Assassin or, the seemingly boneless, Voldo.  The balance of the characters is very good and no matter who you choose to control, you always have a chance of winning (kind of like chess in that regard).  How great a chance is mostly up to how skilled the player is.  Besides all the attack functions, including the ability of some characters to attack off walls, you can also block and guard impact.  Matching a couple of skilled players is like watching ballet.  Granted each ďdancerĒ is equipped with a big sword, but still there are parallels.

 

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On the other end of the spectrum is the Button-Masher who makes progress by simply pressing a simple combination of buttons (or the same button) over and over again.  Surprisingly enough, this tactic can net you victories as well.  Not so much against a skilled nuance player, but certainly against the computer AI.

 

If you donít have a buddy to play with, SC2 offers a variety of single-player modes but the one that will receive the most attention is Weapon 

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Master mode, which sets you on the path of a ďstoryĒ.  The story part has very little bearing on the action.  You move from Chapter to Chapter, with each chapter having mandatory and optional encounters to partake in.  Some encounters are straightforward affairs, but other add wrinkles like betting money on your skills, taking on consecutive opponents, finishing off the opposition under a strict time limit, or fighting opponents that have poisoned blades.  Some of the stages are completely optional and you can change characters so actually running into any trouble spots in unlikely.  Canít complete a side quest?  Move on.  Getting your tail whipped repeatedly by the same opponent?  Pick a different character and try another strategy.  Weapon Master mode is also the main mode for unlocking extra characters, weapons, costumes and further modes of play.

 

soul calibur 2 gamecube review          soul calibur 2 gamecube review

 

Even with all the modes, at long stretches the AI is a little predictable and the action becomes a little stagnant.  It might take you a long time to get to this point, but itís an issue worth mentioning.

 

Frankly, SC2ís animation is awesome.  Each character seems alive, but the most scrutinized character is bound to be Link.  No Legend of Zelda fan will be disappointed.  Namco did a great job giving us a mature Link, complete with bow and arrow, bombs, and boomerang.  Itís gorgeous and fast, and exceeds the famous tech demo that showed Link and Ganon in battle.  The rest of the game has received just as much attention, if not more, and youíll find no complaints from me.  But for all its flash, it still begs the questions: Do visible nipples add anything to gameplay?  Iíll let you decide.

 

If you read a lot of reviews of SC2 (across all platforms) you might be under the impression that the control suffers, especially in comparison to the Xbox and PS2 versions.  Having not played either of those versions you may want to take what I say next with a grain of salt.  I has no problem with SC2ís controls.  Theyíre quick and responsive and once I figured out what I was doing, I didnít have problems executing moves when and where I wanted to.

 

If youíre a moderate fighting fan or a hardcore fanatic, Soul Calibur II has what you want.  On the GameCube thereís not much competition (even with the likes of Def Jam Vendetta, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee and Ultimate MUSCLE), but that doesnít make it any less of an awesome fighting game.  There are lots of characters, weapons, arenas, and modes of play in a beautiful package with solid control.  Snap it up!

 

- Omni

(September 28, 2003)

 

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