game's backgrounds are gorgeous. Water flows from fountains,
the sky is bright and clear, caverns are dark and gloomy and
the library has more books in it than in Congress. Water illuminates
stone pillars, candles flicker, leaves blow in the wind.
The core of the gameplay remains unchanged.
Characters have vertical, horizontal and circular strikes
and kicks. Players can run in eight directions, and throw
when they get in close. If you've played the original Soul
Calibur, you know the routine. All of the characters have
their original moves (some have been changed slightly), as
well as scores of new ones. Kilik now has a short game to
complement the range of his staff and Astaroth is slightly
Both versions features twenty characters.
Returning to the fray are Mitsurugi, Taki, Kilik, Maxi, Xianghua,
Yoshimitsu, Nightmare, Ivy, Cervantes, Sophitia, Astaroth,
Voldo and Seung Mina. New to the game are Necrid, Talim, Cassandra,
Yungsung, Raphael, and Charade. Lizardman makes a cameo, and
while Inferno is probably a playable character as well, we've
been too busy playing to unlock him. The Xbox version features
Todd McFarlane's Spawn, while the PS2 version features Heihachi
Heihachi's lack of a weapon makes him stick out like a sore
thumb, but the Xbox version rounds out Spawn by turning his
cape into a giant axe, though his chains are nowhere to be
seen [We'd much prefer the cape over the axe - Ed.]
can fight with the rest of the characters, he remains deeply
rooted in the Tekken style of play. But while Heihachi
remains unarmed, most of the new characters add something
spectacular to the Soul Calibur pantheon. Necrid fights
with a psionic ghost weapon that imitates the weapons of the
other characters and must be seen to be believed; Tailm carries
two bladed tonfa (police nightsticks), Cassandra wields a
short sword and shield like her sister Sophitia, Yungsung
is armed with a Chinese sword, Raphael is a fencing master,
and Charade changes weapons between rounds. Mastering every
technique will make your head spin.
Unlike those of the previous game, some
of the stages are completely enclosed, while others have areas
with no protection. It's therefore possible to throw opponents
out of some rings, while being forced to fight a là
Thunderdome in others. Fighters who are juggled into the air
and collide with walls will slide down them in a sort of Wile
E. Coyote fashion, allowing for free hits and combos.
For players who get bored with the Arcade
mode, there is also a Vs. mode, Time Attack, Extra Time Attack
(Standard, Alternative and Extreme), Survival, Team Battle,
Vs. Team Battle, and a detailed Practice Mode. Unfortunately,
the Practice Mode lists moves on one screen which must be
then cleared away by pressing pause. Had the move list been
available for players to see while they practice (like Virtua
Fighter 4 and Dead or Alive 3), the game would
be flawless. The game's damn close to perfection as it is.
Master is the game's quest mode, which lets players fight
opponents in a variety of ways (invincible, invisible weapons,
wind pushing around, quicksand miring them, etc). The game
ranks players' performances and awards titles as well as gold.
Gold can be spent in a shop to buy weapons, levels, and hidden
characters. There's even a specific level where players are
awarded gold for each blow they strike.
There's not much else to say without torturing
our readers who don't have one of the Japanese systems. The
graphics are beautiful, the series' orchestral score returns,
and the gameplay couldn't be tighter. The game will be released
on this side of the ocean in 2003, and if you want to be the
best in your neighborhood, go scrape up a Dreamcast and start
practicing. We'll have a detailed review (trust us) once the
game hits North America.
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