Soul Calibur 2 Takes Sega Dreamcast to the Next Level

ARIN MIKHAILIAN
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Namco’s Soul Calibur was probably what kept the Sega Dreamcast alive for a few years. With its beautiful graphics, creative characters and easy pick up and game play, Soul Calibur became an instant classic and quickly entered the fighting game hall of fame.

Since its release back in the fall of 1999 no fighting game has even come close to the style and the heart Soul Calibur had to offer. That is until its successor came out four years later.

Now in 2003, the long awaited Soul Calibur 2 is finally upon us and it once again brings us the experience of a true fighting game. Soul Caliber 2 did not have much to improve on, but it does offer a larger cast of characters, even more gorgeous graphics, more arenas, and a near perfect fighting system.

Graphics:

Namco really went overboard on this one. Soul Calibur 2 truly takes advantage of each of the next-generation consoles graphics capabilities. Each arena has its own unique design with a jaw dropping array of colors and perfect lighting, especially in arenas with a lot of windows such as “Nightmare’s Cathedral.”

Each character has its own original design adapted from the artist’s original artwork. Please take my word for it when I say no two characters look alike. Its cast of characters includes samurais, fencing masters, dead pirates, knights and the weirdest looking creatures from the planet “Who Knows?”

Each character also has multiple costumes to choose from and although most of them have to be unlocked they are worth getting.

Finally, the in-game graphics are done with the same masterful work as the rest of the game. Every punch, kick and toss is smoothly done in fluent motion. In addition, the regular fighting methods, explosions and other special attacks that each character can perform are breathtaking. The visuals packed into this game are some of the best on any console out there.

Sound:

You cannot have a good fighting game without good sound and that includes grunts, screams and taunts. Soul Calibur 2 has that and more.

Each character has their own unique sounds for expressing their pain, which makes the player either go “Yes!” or “D’oh!” Besides the sounds of pain each character has also been given its own unique catch phrases accompanying the battles.

With the volume kicked up a notch, the sound of slashing your enemy with a sword or whip or throwing them against the wall has never been more auditorily satisfying. The soundtrack of the game is also fantastic.
Instead of having mindless generic rock songs like other fighting games, Soul Calibur 2 actually has orchestrated battle music and character themes. The only minor flaw with the sound is the dubbed voices, which is a disappointment. This is no surprise because every dubbed game usually does a bad job (Cough, Final Fantasy X.)

Fortunately, you have the option of switching to the original Japanese voice-overs with English subtitles. The only good part of the English voice-overs is that before every fight each character taunts the other by saying something to anger them or to mock them. This usually proves to be hilarious, because some of the taunts are so lame. For instance, “I will feast on your soul!” Oh, please.

With a few minor flaws in the sound, the game play of Soul Calibur 2 is what makes this a true masterpiece.

Game Play:

Now this is where the game truly shines. Soul Calibur 2 not only has a near perfect fighting system, but it also has a huge load of game modes and secrets to unlock. Soul Calibur 2 has the usual story mode or weapon master mode where you pick a character and go through a simple story and fight different characters (The story is usually an excuse for you to fight different people.) But, what makes Soul Calibur 2’s story mode a standout is its sheer length.

You and your character get to travel to different parts of a fictitious world to fight dozens and dozens of characters, while other fighting games story modes only have about 10 to 15 characters to fight.

The story mode does get rather difficult as you get deeper into it, but you do earn the right to unlock more characters, costumes, and weapons.

Other than the story mode, you have other options such as practice modes and other types of modes for instance to test your recently unlocked gear. The actual game play is easy because Soul Calibur 2 is a pick up and play fighting game. The more familiar you become with the game the easier it will be for you to pull off difficult combos and spectacular finishing moves.

The only minor problem with the game play is the response speed. Every now and then the moves you enter on your controller may be slightly delayed on-screen, which may make you vulnerable for a half-second or so. But no game is perfect.

This one sure comes close. Soul Calibur 2 is by far one of the best games of the year.

Final Score:

**** (Out of four.)