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Game Profile
GENRE: Fighting
PLAYERS:   1-2
August 27, 2003
Soul Calibur V

Soul Calibur V

Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny

Soul Calibur IV

Soul Calibur IV

More in this Series
 Written by Jeff Milligan  on September 23, 2003

Full Review: ...or otherwise known as "How to Kick Major Ass Volume 2"

If you take a look back on the history of gaming, you'll notice a major decline in the world of fighting. Back in the days of the Super Nintendo, games such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Killer Instinct were viewed as some of the best games available on the system. Even lesser known fighting games such as Primal Rage had their place. Nowadays however, it's a much different story. Unless your name is Tekken or Virtua Fighter, many casual game players will overlook what might be excellent fighting titles, just because the genre has seen a decline in popularity. Just when you think the world of fighters might dissipate even more, a savior is born. That savior is none other than the sequel to one of the most popular fighters not only on the Dreamcast, but in the entire world of gaming. That title was named Soul Calibur, and the new savior of the next-gen fighting world is Soul Calibur II.

The "Sword of Heroes". The "Sword of Salvation". The Soul Edge. This is what Soul Calibur is all about. This Legendary blade has been sought after for many years, for many different reasons. Some seek its power to cure illness, others seek it to gain immeasurable riches, yet others for the key to eternal youth. Yet, no matter who is searching for the blade or for what reason, these souls are going to be in for the journey of a lifetime.

The one unique aspect of Soul Calibur II is that it's more than just a simple fighting game. Besides having a unique story for each character explaining why he/she seeks the blade, and what transpires on their respective journey, Soul Calibur II features many RPG-like aspects. During a characters journey, they will have to travel from arena to arena battling those who stand in their way. Characters must also explore uncharted lands and dungeons in order to progress further in their story. Unlockable weapons, characters, and a ranking system are all aspects to consider during your journey. Each battle will result in your character gaining Exp. points, which can cause your characters rank to rise. Characters will also gain gold at the end of battles, which can be used to purchase extras, including new weapons.

Besides the above section of gameplay (which is named "Weapon Master" mode), Soul Calibur II also includes an arcade mode, VS. mode, Time Attack, Survival, and a section to practice your skills against AI-controlled enemies. Arcade mode is your basic level by level progression challenge. After choosing your character of choice, players are matched up against numerous enemies to be fought one after another, until all stages have been cleared. Time Attack challenges players to defeat enemies in the fastest time possible, Survival is an option to fight 50 consecutive stages of 1 round battles, and VS. mode lets 2 players battle it out at once. There are a few Extra modes that can be unlocked as well, including extra arcade, extra team battle, and extra practice. As you can see, there is quite a selection to choose from here, extending an already massive replay value.

As you begin your journey, your first task is to select your character. You may recognize many familiar names from the original Soul Calibur, including Voldo, Maxi, Mitsurugi, and Kilik. However, there are also a handful of new selectable characters. Included in this lineup of newcomers are Raphael Sorel, Talim, Cassandra Alexandra, and Hong Yunsung. Each character, whether they be old or new, encompass their own style of fighting, weapon system, and different strengths and weaknesses. While one character may be hard-hitting but on the slow side, another may have great agility and low-attacking strikes. Overall, the selection of chooseable characters is very well balanced, with no one character having too much of an advantage over another.

As most of you already know, each version of Soul Calibur II comes with a unique selectable character. In the case of the GameCube, Link from the Legend of Zelda is available. Personally, I don't think there could have been anyone better to pick for the Nintendo version. Since many gamers will be buying the GC version just for the opportunity to use Link, we'll go into a little detail about this excellent addition. Link is a very well-balanced character. Using the Master Sword and Hylian Shield, Link is both quick and strong. While not being the biggest hitter in the game, Link is able to duke it out with the strongest of characters and also has some devastatingly powerful attacks. His agility is also noticeable, being able to keep up with some of the more quick enemies. His dealings with the Soul Edge also tie-in to his Hylian past, keeping the Zelda storyline intact. Overall, Link is an excellent choice for both beginners and veterans, and a great addition to the GameCube version.

Although the GameCube controller isn't always the preferred weapon of choice for fighting games, it does do a relatively good job with Soul Calibur II. Under the default settings, the A button controls your horizontal attack, Y controls vertical slices, B is your defend button, X controls kicks, and the Z trigger commands your power-up ability. Both the D-Pad and the control stick can be used for movement, although using the D-Pad is a bit more rigid, especially when attempting combos or more technical attacks. For the most part, basic advances and attacks feel comfortable with the GameCube controller. However, when trying to pull off some of the more difficult maneuvers, it can get tricky. The oversized A button of the controller always seems to be in the way, and the skimpy Z trigger can be difficult to find at times.

From the FMV's in the beginning of the game right down to the menu system, the GC version of Soul Calibur II is impressive to say the least. It's difficult to compare SCII to any other fighting game, especially since the GC has seen very few of them. Arenas and dungeons are nicely designed, and really emphasize each character's background. Characters themselves too are creatively done, showing off lots of rich colors and smooth textures. Minimal slowdown (if any) during gameplay is also a great bonus, especially for fighting games, when the simplest hiccup in the action can cause a combo to fail.

As was mentioned, Soul Calibur II has a great replay value. This is really no surprise, as most fighters have strong replay values, but SCII takes it to the next level. Besides taking a good while to master your character of choice, players also have a multitude of characters, weapons, and levels to unlock, which really sucks up the time put into the game. Then of course you have the option of battling a friend in VS. mode, which can be a real time consumer when you have that occasional tournament at parties.

Bottom Line
It's fairly simple to break Soul Calibur II down. Excellent gameplay, lots of unlockables, interesting stories and characters, smooth graphics and animations, and tons of replay value all add up to one amazing experience. Soul Calibur fans, fighting fans, and even Zelda fans really need to check this one out, as it is without a doubt the best fighting experience you can find on the GameCube to date.

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