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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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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 Ilan Mejer  on April 18, 2002

Updated Look: Kilik is soooo gonna kick yer ass!

Namco's Soul Edge, a fast, deep, and strategic weapons-based fighter, was a moderate success in the arcades, and saw a successful and improved port to the Playstation as Soul Blade. In 1998, Namco blew away Dreamcast owners with the massively upgraded sequel, Soul Calibur, considered by many to be the epitome of the 3D fighting genre. Now, Namco is readying the arcade release of their highly anticipated follow up, Soul Calibur II. Home conversions of Soul Calibur II have already been officially announced for the Xbox, Playstation 2, and Nintendo's GameCube. The games tell the 16th century tale of a fearsome and powerful sword, called the Soul Blade/Edge and its ability to empower and corrupt a human soul and body. While fighting games usually skimp on the story elements, Soul Calibur was a particularly well-developed tale, successfully threading the fates of a variety of compelling individuals. This was particularly true in the Dreamcast version which featured a slew of exclusive material that propelled the story.

The entire roster for SC2 is still unconfirmed, but certain characters are already known to be returning. The original SC contained eighteen characters, and at least that many are expected to appear in the sequel. The nine returning characters confirmed so far are Hwang Sung Kyung, Siegfried Schtauffen, Ivy Valentine, Heishiro Mitsurugi, Nightmare, Taki, Astaroth, Kilik, and Xianghua. These characters represent a variety of different cultures, backgrounds, and combat styles, including a Katana wielding mercenary, a female Japanese Ninja, and an Athenian swordswoman. Only three new characters have been confirmed so far. They are Hon Yun Tsung, a Korean student of Hwang's discipline; Tarim, a Southeast Asian native priestess; and Cassandra Alexandra, younger sister to last game's Sophitia.

The original Soul Calibur featured a very effective and deep control scheme that made use of only four action buttons and all eight directions of the D pad or analog stick. The GameCube controller is perfectly set up for Soul Calibur's control scheme, which is probably why this was the first home version confirmed by Namco. The simple controls allowed for high, low, middle, and special mid attacks in addition to guarding, unblock-able attacks, and a unique throwing system. It was a very intuitive control setup, which allowed for the easy execution of throws, lightning fast combination attacks, and deep counter strategies. The controls and game mechanics are not expected to change dramatically for Soul Calibur II, although the attacks of returning characters will probably be expanded and tweaked significantly.

Currently, the game is less than 50% complete, but the most recent screen captures are of a 30% complete build. The graphics and technology are already impressive, featuring highly detailed polygonal fighters that are motion captured, self-shadowing, and garbed in realistically rendered clothing. The arenas that the combatants will engage in are still extremely early, but if Namco's previous efforts are mirrored, then they will be as varied as they are beautiful. Namco has offered that some will even feature interactive elements such as breakable walls. While Namco is planning a simultaneous release of all three console versions of Soul Calibur II, a Gameboy Advance version has also been announced. The GameCube version is the only one that will realistically be able to link up and interact with the handheld edition, although no details have yet been officially announced.

Final Thoughts
Namco stunned the industry when they announced that Soul Calibur II was headed primarily to the GameCube. While subsequent announcements have confirmed Playstation 2 and Xbox versions as well, the GameCube's controller is ideally suited for the Soul Calibur gameplay, and the interaction with a Gameboy Advance incarnation of Soul Calibur II is a feature that will be exclusive to the Nintendo version of the game. There are no official dates yet for the home release of the game, but the arcade edition is expected around the end of 2002, with a possible GameCube version as early as middle of 2003. Fans of the arcade or Dreamcast Soul Calibur games would be well advised to keep an eye out for the Nintendo versions of Soul Calibur II.

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