Soul Calibur II
Last Updated: 2/18/2013 Developer(s): Namco Publisher(s): Namco Designer(s): Hiroaki Yotoriyama Artwork by: Takuji Kawano, Aya Takemura Platform(s): Arcade, Playstation 2, Gamecube, Xbox Release Date(s): July 30th, 2002 (Arcade)
March 27th, 2003 ( PS2/GC/XB)
August 27th, 2003 ( PS2/GC/XB)
Characters: Mitsurugi, Yunsung, Cassandra, Talim, Maxi, Ivy, Kilik, Taki, Voldo, Xianghua, Nightmare, Astaroth, Lizardman, Yoshimitsu, Rafael, Charade, Seung Mina, Sophitia, Cervantes, Berserker, Assassin, Necrid, Heihachi (PS2), Spawn (Xbox), Link (Gamecube)
Related Games: Soul Edge, Soul Calibur, Soul Calibur 3, Soul Calibur 3: Arcade Edition, Soul Calibur 4, Soul Calibur 5, Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, Soul Calibur Legends, Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Bloody Roar 4, Tekken 4
Gameplay Engine 10 / 10 Story / Theme 9.5 / 10 Overall Graphics 9.5 / 10 Animation 10 / 10 Music / Sound Effects 10 / 10 Innovation 10 / 10 Art Direction 10 / 10 Customization 8 / 10 Options / Extras 9 / 10 Intro / Presentation 8.5 / 10 Replayability / Fun 10 / 10 "Ouch" Factor 9.5 / 10 Characters 10 / 10 BOTTOM LINE
9.9 / 10
Review based on PS2 version Final Words:
Soul Calibur 2 is a superb game in both casual and high level play. Every character can be used effectively and besides some cheap guaranteed combos that top players can do, the game is considerably balanced and most importantly, fun! One of my favorite aspects of the game is the speed... SC2 is indeed a lot faster than SC3 & SC4 (in more ways than one), which is why it's my favorite installment in the series.
When SC2 first arrived, I was hoping to see a few more "new" fighting styles/characters. However, Namco did re-define all of the returning characters' styles, nearly making them seem completely new in their own right! In my opinion, the stages could've been designed a tad better and could've featured some more "environmental interaction," but at the end of the day, the wall game adds an exceptionally fun element to the gameplay.
Some nitpicks I have about SC2.... First, it always bothered me that the characters always have the same set of quotes during their intros / win poses in the VS mode, but if you play through the 1-player Arcade mode, each character has a different win quote AND introduction after nearly EVERY battle.... Why didn't that awesomeness cross-over into the VS mode!? That small detail would've made the VS mode a lot less repetitive, but that certainly didn't stop me from playing the hell out of this game.
Seriously, my friends and I put countless hours (more like years) into this game... even well after Soul Calibur 3 was released (which didn't live up to SC2 in my opinion). At the end of the day, Soul Calibur 2 is a must have for any fighting gamer, and in my opinion, is one of the best fighting games of all time. And if you're reading this Namco... please give us Soul Calibur 2 HD Online Edition someday!!! I know some people who would buy several copies of that. ~TFG Webmaster
STORY: Soul Calibur 2 is set four years after the end of Soul Calibur, which based on calculations puts the game's story in the year 1591. The wave of slaughters that terrorized Europe reached a sudden end. The knight in azure armor, Nightmare, and his followers were successful in collecting enough souls and were about to start the restoring ceremony on the ruins of the once-proud Ostreinsburg Castle. But just as the ceremony was to start, three young warriors assaulted the castle. After an intense battle, Nightmare fell, but then the evil soul inside Soul Edge sent the young warriors into a vortex of hellfire and stood to confront them. As a result of Soul Edge's evil aura, Krita-Yuga revealed its true form: that of the Holy Sword, Soul Calibur.
The intense battle ended with the victory of the holy sword, but at the collapse of the vortex of Inferno, both swords, along with the azure Nightmare, were sucked in a void and expelled in another place. Siegfried, recognizing his sins, set out on a journey of atonement. Still, the blade held a strong bond, and every night it took control of the body and took souls of those nearby. The efforts made by the young knight were fruitless, and four years later the Azure Knight Nightmare returned.
Around those times various warriors came into contact with the blade's remaining fragments, revealing Soul Edge's ultimate survival after its defeat. Driven either to possess or destroy it, they join a new journey, while Nightmare begins his rampage, seeking souls to restore Soul Edge once again.
Time to learn how to guard impact... it pays off.
REVIEW: Soul Calibur 2 built upon the solid foundation of the epic Soul Calibur, and in many ways managed to live up to the original smash hit. New gameplay engine improvements include: new stages featuring walls (and wall specific moves), more effective "sidestep" and "avoid" systems (which allow fighters to more effectively evade vertical & linear attacks), the new Clash System (which occurs when two similar attacks impact at the same time, resulting in a white flash and no damage to either opponent), and finally, an update to the Soul Charge system with many attacks receiving new properties when Soul Charge is activated.
Several new fighters have joined the ranks, including: Talim, Raphael, Yunsung & Cassandra. Each of the newcomers proudly shows off their own unique weapon style in unprecedented detail, and make the overall SC experience even more diverse and well-rounded. The new battlegrounds of SC2 are full of detail and are much more "open" (and realistic) this time around, unlike the classic water-surrounded rings of past installments. The home versions of SC2 feature the new Weapon Master Mode (based on the original one from the PS1 version of Soul Blade) which is an entertaining play-through for single players.
Yunsung may look like Hwang... but actually has a completely new moveset.
Like its predecessors, SC2 stands out visually due to the expertly done motion capture animation. The authentic and innovative weapon styles are dead-on and really make the characters stand out.... The samurai, Mitsurugi, can look like a true Japanese swordsman in the hands of a skilled player, while the giant axe-wielding Astaroth, moves slowly but unleashes devastatingly gruesome attacks that always make you cringe. The amazing visuals are complimented by superb voice acting and crisp sound effects. SC2 is one of the few games where I can say I enjoy both the Japanese and the English voices. Some of the one-liners eventually get kind of old, but it's hard to complain when the characters of SC2 have eons more dialogue than characters from other games.
SC2's animation was no doubt at the top of its class at the time of its debut (and still is pretty damn good to this day). On a side note, if you ever get the chance to watch SC2 in slow motion, you can actually appreciate the animation in even greater detail. Seriously, if you haven't watched a good tournament-style match in slow motion, you're missing out on some ouch factor!!! Namco did an amazing job with some of the "finer details" of the animation, especially the collision detection. Those extra animations Namco spent time on truly make attacks and throws look convincingly painful (in a beautiful way nonetheless)!
Following the footsteps of some solid prequels, Soul Calibur 2 presents some of the most dynamic and solid 3D gameplay of all time. Returning from the first Soul Calibur, the 8-Way-Run allows players to quickly move in any direction, and the system is now faster and more fluid than before. Due to the excellent movement speed, high level matches can become incredibly intense and fast-paced in the blink of an eye. The addition of walls adds an interesting new dynamic to the gameplay; the wall game is actually very solid and fun once you learn the ropes. Finally, Guard Impacting (parrying) is still one of the game's most dynamic and skill-demanding defensive mechanics, and the system feels noticeably smoother and is more rewarding in this installment.
With the exception of only a few moves, almost every offensive technique can be parried if the defending player can see the move coming and taps "Guard + Forward" or "Guard + Back" at the correct time. Whether you want to shift your opponent's weight backward or forward is an awesome strategic element, unique to the Soul series, and really completes SC2's dynamic gameplay mechanics. The parrying feature not only balances the game, but it drastically separates the skilled players from the novices (and the button mashers). That said, those silly button mashing noobs have absolutely no chance at winning against a skilled player... and that's what makes a great fighting game in my book. Seriously, players who shamelessly spam in SC2 are simply insulting the game (and are also easy to beat)... GI (Guard Impact) that shit.
Ivy is back... with one of the most amazing fighting styles ever seen.
The characters of Soul Calibur 2 aren't only cool character designs visually, they're actually some of the most elaborate fighters in terms of their play styles. Unlike some fighting game characters out there, SC2's characters have incredibly complex movesets and demand countless hours of practice (and sharp reflexes) to truly master. It's not all about blocking and attacking in Soul Calibur 2; it's really about tricking your opponent (AKA mix-up). You can cancel most standard attacks by tapping "block" immediately after the attack, and you can even mix up the timing of the cancel. Certain special moves also have special cancels, offering some pretty tricky options.
As in the original Soul Calibur, most characters have the ability to change their "stance," which greatly alters their moveset for the moment. This allows for a variety of transitions and gives characters the potential to be used exactly how the player wants. For example, no two Raphael players are alike... and no two Ivy players are alike. SC2 really gives you the creativity to create your own style of fighting, using your chosen character (or characters) as your base.
If you truly learn how to use a SC2 character properly, you will feel completely in control and confident with them at all times, and possibly even be able to play them in a variety of different styles. For example: Ryu from Street Fighter will always do the same Hadokens, Shoryukens, and Hurricane kicks on top of his priority moves... but in comparison, a Soul Calibur 2 character has about 25 times the abilities and mix-ups of a Street Fighter character. Yeah, SC2's characters are that dynamic... but you have to practice a lot to get to that point. It may take some time, but once you get to that point of controlling your character and mixing up your own play styles with each character, SC2 almost becomes an entirely new game than when you first started playing.
The Gamecube version's exclusive character... Nintendo's own Link!!!
Along with sleek menus, a handful of modes, and the entertaining "Weapon Master" mode, the home version of SC2 is an awesome package. Exclusive to the home version are 3 characters not seen in the arcade version: Necrid, Assassin & Berserker). Necrid has an interesting but strange fighting style, using moves from many different characters; Assassin's moveset is based on Hwang's; and Berserker's is based on Rock's. Furthermore, each home console also received its own exclusive character... Heihachi (PS2 version), Spawn (Xbox version) and Link (Gamecube version). It was a pretty cool move by Namco, and something the fighting genre has never seen before. For the record, my favorite guest character in SC2 would have to be Heihachi, playing "Tekken style" in Soul Calibur is surprisingly fun!!!
Museum Mode also returns and includes all of the awesome content that you'd expect: High quality artwork/endings, Exhibition Theater (where you can view the awesome character katas) and Character Profiles which allows you to read each character's full bio and also listen to every single line of spoken dialogue in the game (upwards of 100 different phrases per character, and in both languages!) ...Once again, Namco really went all out and delivered an awesome package. SC2 also has some great options, including the ability to toggle between English and Japanese voices (which wasn't a staple option for fighting games at the time)!