Hands-On Preview: If this is just a fresh coat of paint, I probably won't do anything other than buy and love the game anyways, but still?
Oh, how I wish I could afford to purchase yet another Dreamcast. Forget the fact that it has a highly outdated library and no new titles, and remember the fact that it has one of the greatest fighting titles of all time, Soul Calibur. I remember the nights and weekends I lost to that classic game, the game the revolutionized the 3D weapons-based fighter. I remember when I beat the game as just about every character, and most of all, I remember all the fun I had beating down (and getting beat down by) my closest gamer friends. It was simply a title no to be forgotten for any reason at all. Now we, the gaming public, are finally receiving the sequel we have been waiting for since we got Calibur in 1999.
And because the Dreamcast isn't around anymore and Sega's gone third party, everyone is going to be in on the fun! The PS2, Xbox and GC will all receive virtually identical versions of the game come this August when SC2 is supposed to hit store shelves everywhere. Our friends on the other side of the Atlantic have had this game in their grasps for some time now and many eager fans have imported the Japanese version just to get their fix before anyone else on their block. This article is for those of us who don't have the recourses to go out and score the import. This August we too will get our day in the sun, and I'm going to show you all the great stuff we have to look forward to on the Playstation2.
Now, for those of you who have had a chance to play the original (shame on you and your mother if you haven't) you know the story here is actually quite strong. But odds are if you haven't seen and heard it in action you're not going to understand a single thing the sequel has to show, so here's a recap of the story for you all:
The Soul Edge?some say it's the ultimate weapon, some say it's eternal youth, or a heroes might, maybe even the cure to all sickness. Inevitably, the Soul Edge has been destroyed, shattered to hundreds of fragments in one final bout. Instead of the intentional effect of well-being, there is now no balance between the swords, and a terrible episode later named the Evil Seed took place, for the sky was darkened with only a single violent light. This marked the land for three years, until the terrible events were forgotten nearly a half-decade later. No one was aware that the spirit of the Soul Edge, Soul Calibur, was still in existence, and that the people have been unintentionally transporting pieces of the legendary blade to all corners of the earth. Now in the form of Nightmare (formerly Siegfried), Soul Calibur is pursuing all parts of the fervent sword, to rejoin it once again as the most powerful weapon on earth.
Now that we have all that cleared up, we can move on to the juicy gameplay information we have in store for you.
Fighter fans may have noticed recently that solid weapons based games have been hard to come by in the last year or so. There was the revival of the Mortal Kombat series, Deadly Alliance, but after and pretty well before that, finding a good game in the sub-genre has been difficult. That?s a big reason why to this day you'll still meet players who frequently take out the old Dreamcast to ease their withdrawal issues. SCII will bring back the weapons with a dash of original control layouts and strategy for the game's new home.
If I learned one thing from getting a little hands on time with a demo version of the game, I learned that button mashing is not going to work. Now, I have my reasons for slamming every button on the pad, it was my first time and I had no idea what the combos were. Needless to say, I got beaten to a pulp a few times. Then I got the hang of it and manhandled the first opponent. I went into the next match planning on using the same style I started with, no dice, I was torn apart again. That's one of the biggest upgrades from the original; no character will face you in exactly the same way. One character you might have to chase around the ring looking to score good hits, others you may have to charge at and be ready with a swift combo. It's a lot like a one-on-one game of chess. Knowledge of the strengths of all characters is needed to take on the big bad enemies and live to tell about it. This isn't a game you can button mash or memorize combos for anymore.
Defensive maneuvers will still play a big part of your strategy yet again, and you're going to need to know how to use it. It's not an option to just fly in and attack blindly nor is it good to just sit back holding the block button. Being quick with your reflexes and realizing when its time to throw up your shield will often be the different between victory and defeat.
Soul Charge is also making a return to the field in triumphant form. What the Soul Charge does is allows you to add a certain amount of extra damage to your offensive blows based on how long you held charged your character. This may influence one to ask, why not just charge the whole time? Because if you move or are hit while charging, you lose everything. Therefore it is important to find opportune times to boost your power or you may end up attempting it only to lose it.
For all you stingy spenders out there, you'll be happy to know that SCII is going to feature many modes of play to give you maximum value for your dollar. There's the training mode, the mission based mode similar to that found in the original, Time Attack, Survival, etc. The overall set is looking a lot like what you would find in most top of the line fighters, and that certainly isn't a bad thing.
The graphics, I don't even know where I should begin. Everyone remembers how large a masterpiece the original was, and the sequel certainly looks like a worthy follow up in this regard. That said, it doesn't look as upgraded as you would expect a game with four years to improve would. This is more or less just a testament to how strong the first game was, as number two still looks astounding.
It's rare that I get so feverishly into a fighting game that isn't already out yet. The genre just isn't my favorite, but here I am ready to cry that I can't play SCII yet. That, more or less, really proves how good things seem to be looking for this long awaited sequel. With the August release quickly moving closer, all we can do is sit back and hope there isn?t another delay to this sure-to-be instant fighting classic.