When the Dreamcast was first released on 9/9/99, there was one game that made the system a worthwhile purchase. That game was SOUL CALIBUR, the most highly-regarded fighting game since the Godfather of them all, STREET FIGHTER II. 4 years later, Namco has finally released a sequel to one of the greatest games of all time, and it's just as good as the first.
SOUL CALIBUR is a weapon-based fighting game, where each character has their own weapon and fighting style. There are three types of attacks: vertical weapon, horizontal weapon and kick. There's also mid, high and low attacks, and every attack has variations based on tapping buttons, holding buttons and the direction of the control stick. It's really easy to pick up, and will please those who aren't fans of the fighting genre. The gameplay in SOUL CALIBUR was perfect, so expect no changes to SOUL CALIBUR II.
The gameplay hasn't really changed at all, so this is still basically the same game you played on the Dreamcast. What's new is some of the characters, as well as some modes. The game is a bit more in-depth this time, with the quest mode being the primary one-player place to play. The A.I. has been notched up a bit (or maybe it's just that I'm rusty). Regardless, the fact that there isn't much new here doesn't detract from the game - the new characters, modes, and a chance to revist the SOUL CALIBUR engine is great appreciated.
There are some special characters for each title, including Spawn in the Xbox game. Most important to gamers is probably Link from the LEGEND OF ZELDA series, whose inclusion makes the GameCube version of the game the most enticing. The Xbox has high-definition support, but the controller is a bit rough. The PS2 controller is the best bet, and the easiest on your hands. Of course, if you own an Arcade stick, the choice between Link and high-definition is the challenge.
If I have any complaints about the game, it's only that there isn't much new to the gameplay. I picked it up and played the exact same way I did four years ago. Of course, the MADDEN series is similar to this every year (with some minor tweaks, of course) so it's not too big a deal. Nevertheless, if SOUL CALIBUR III doesn't have some more major improvements, I'm going to be a bit irritated at the rehash.
The graphics are beautiful. The back drops are excellent and the character models look great. Color abounds in this eye-candy filled title. I wish some of the animations and moves had been changed up a bit, but what are you going to do?
The sound is pretty spot-on. The sound effects have been recycled, and the announcer is annoying at times, but the original Japanese voice-overs are intact if you so choose to listen to them. Otherwise it sounds like your run of the mill arcade fighter.
SOUL CALIBUR II will take you back to the days of the Dreamcast, and one of the finest fighting games ever. If you never had a chance to play the original, do yourself a favor and try it now - and if you have played the first, you've probably already bought the sequel.