Another even more fortunate technical feature available in all three versions of the game is the option to switch from the default English language voice-over to the original Japanese. The game's announcer speaks fluent English no matter what and has some embarrassingly melodramatic lines to describe the fighters. However, many of the character voices, such as for Mitsurugi and Raphael, are much better in the Japanese language track, especially since some of the English translations are nonsensical. For example, Nightmare, a ferocious half-man possessed by the evil spirit contained in the sword known as Soul Edge, might viciously defeat his foe, only to declare: "Go away!"
Weapon master mode adds some single-player variety but won't last you more than a few sittings.
Another aspect of Soul Calibur II that doesn't make much sense is the weapon master mode, which is sort of a half-glorified mission mode. The missions themselves are pretty good--you'll need to defeat your opponents while taking heed of certain conditions, such as maybe a dwindling health meter (you've been poisoned!) or gale-force winds that threaten to send either you or your opponent flying off the edge of the ring. In between missions, though, you'll get lots of long-winded text that details the mission mode's storyline. Something about a lengthy text-based story in a fighting game just doesn't feel right, especially in this day and age, and you'll probably end up skipping over the text just to get to (and through) the missions as quickly as possible. As you pass missions, you unlock some new modes of play and some not-so-hidden characters, and you also earn "gold" that can be used to "buy" new weapons for all the various fighters and some other unlockables.
The ability to acquire and use different weapons for each character is actually a throwback to the home version of Soul Calibur's predecessor, Soul Blade (also known as Soul Edge). The various weapons have special properties, perhaps having greater offensive power at the cost of some defensive power, or allowing the wielder to perform soul charges faster than normal. But these don't change the character's fighting style or anything, and, in keeping with the design theme of Soul Calibur II, they are mostly just graphical replacements. Still, having a variety of different weapons for each character along with unlockable art galleries, character profiles, alternate outfits, and other such things does give Soul Calibur II some good single-player lasting value. Too bad there's no online play, which quite possibly would have been the revolutionary step that Soul Calibur II needed to truly live up to its predecessor's legendary reputation.
Soul Calibur II's artificial intelligence is pretty good. At higher levels of difficulty, the computer delivers relentless competition, and it knows how to turn the tables in situations where it's getting close to being knocked out of the ring--though, in time, you'll probably pick up on some moves and patterns that the AI can't effectively contend with. Of course, fighting games are best when played against other human players of equivalent skill, and in these situations, Soul Calibur II can be just as entertaining as the previous installment in the series. The gameplay is as accessible as ever--just pick a fighter like Maxi or Kilik, and jam on the slash buttons to witness their impressive combat styles. Alternatively, you can hunker down and learn all the moves in a character's arsenal by going through the practice mode, which doesn't really teach you anything about how to play the game but at least lets you work on your moves.
Soul Calibur II is the fast-paced, great-looking, complex fighting game you'd expect it to be.
This is a highly impressive game from a visual standpoint, no matter which version you get. Every once in a while, you might detect a very slight hitch in the frame rate (regardless of which version you're playing), but for the most part the game runs at a perfectly smooth 60 frames per second and features lifelike character models that have all been expertly motion captured. Of further note, though this is a weapon fighting game, don't expect to see any blood or dismemberment or anything, not that you would if you played Soul Calibur or its predecessor. At any rate, the Xbox version edges out the other two in terms of overall visual quality, but you might not notice except on a high-definition TV. The Xbox version also loads a bit faster in between matches, though the loading times are easily ignored in any of the versions. As mentioned, Soul Calibur II's English voice-over, enabled by default, is pretty spotty, though the Japanese is better. A grandiose soundtrack adds plenty of epic flair to the proceedings and is probably the strongest aspect of the audio. Most of the game's actual sound effects--sword slashes and such--are recycled from Soul Calibur, which were in turn recycled from Soul Blade.
If nothing else, Soul Calibur II is proof of how outstanding 1999's Soul Calibur really was. Like its predecessor, this sequel can provide countless hours of fast-paced, great looking battles--though if you played a lot of the previous Soul Calibur game, you'll be hard-pressed to sustain or even muster up the same level of enthusiasm over this update. That's not to say Soul Calibur II doesn't pack in any thrills of its own. It's certainly one of the most refined, most accessible, and best-looking 3D fighting games to date, and it's squarely the best game in its class for the Xbox and GameCube.
- Similar model: $
- Set Price Alert