Soul Calibur II


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.

SC2 Ivy has one of the most amazing & fluid fighting styles ever created.

REVIEWSoul Calibur 2 built upon the solid foundation of the arcade / Dreamcast smash hit, Soul Calibur. Soul 2 not only managed to live up to the original, but the enhanced gameplay systems and character updates took the series even further than previously imaginable. Gameplay engine improvements, include: tons of new moves / stances per character, more effective "sidestep" and "avoid" systems (allowing fighters to evade vertical & linear attacks more effectively), new stages featuring walls (and wall specific moves), the Clash System (occurring when two similar attacks impact at the same time, resulting in no damage to either opponent), and finally, an update to the Soul Charge system - with many attacks receiving new properties / additional moves after Soul Charge is activated. 

Several new fighters have joined the ranks, including: Talim, Raphael, Yunsung & Cassandra. Each of the newcomers proudly show off their own unique weapon style in unprecedented detail, making the overall SC experience even more diverse and well-rounded. The new battlegrounds of SC2 are full of detail and are more "open" and realistic this time around, differing significantly from the classic water-surrounded rings of past installments. The home versions of SC2 include the new Weapon Master mode (based on the original from the PS1 version of Soul Blade). SC2's Weapon Master mode is an entertaining play-through for single players, featuring a number of weapons to collect per character and some highly entertaining missions to fight through. At the time of its debut, its easily one of the best "1-player modes" in fighting game to date.

Yunsung may look like Hwang... but he 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, of course, but it's hard to complain when the characters of SC2 have eons more dialogue than fighters 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 3 solid prequels (Soul Edge, Soul Blade & Soul Calibur), Soul 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, now offering even faster and more fluid movement strategies. Due to the excellent movement speed, high level matches can become intense and incredibly 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. To counter the crazy new combo possibilities, the "air control" system can help players slip out of combos and reposition themselves on stage strategically. 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 shameless button mashers). "Button mashing noobs" have absolutely no chance at winning against a skilled player... especially since there are so many options available to dismantle opponents (with style and finesse). That's what makes a great fighting game in my book. Seriously, players who shamelessly spam in SC2 are not only insulting the deepness of the game, they are also easy to beat... GI that shit.

Time to learn how to guard impact... it pays off. 

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 movesets and playstyles. Unlike some fighting game characters out there, SC2's characters have incredibly deep, 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. A variety of attacks also have special cancels, offering tons of creative room.

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. And as previously stated, players who play "predictably" and spam the same old moves will always become easy prey for a practiced player. On that note, I personally love "styling" on opponents with Guard Impacts and obscure mix-ups... it's one of the most satisfying fighting games for someone who enjoys to beating opponents in different ways.

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 20 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 master the control of your character and discover eons of mix-up options, SC2 almost becomes an entirely new game than when you first started playing. Soul Calibur 2 is that damn good.

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 is an interesting but strange combatant (designed by Todd McFarlane), using moves from many different characters. Assassin's moveset is based on Hwang's previous fighting style while Berserker's is based on Rock's. Those two are more "dull" compared to their predecessors, but they're not bad filler characters. Furthermore, each home console also received its own  exclusive character... Heihachi (PS2 version), Spawn (Xbox version) and Link (Gamecube version). It was a groundbreaking move by Namco at the time... certainly something the fighting genre never saw before. For the record, my favorite guest character in SC2 would have to be Heihachi, playing "Tekken style" in Soul Calibur is surprisingly fun!!!   EWGF all day! 

Museum Mode also returns from SC1 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 for console 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)!

Page Updated: February 22nd, 2017
Developer(s): Namco
Publisher(s): Namco
Designer(s): Hiroaki Yotoriyama
Artwork by: Takuji Kawano, Aya Takemura
Platform(s): Arcade, PS2, PS3, Gamecube, Xbox, Xbox 360
Release Date(s): July 30th, 2002      (Arcade)
Mar. 27th, 2003    
( PS2/GC/XB)
Aug. 27th, 2003
      ( PS2/GC/XB)
Nov. 19th, 2013 
    (PS3  - As Soul Calibur II: HD Online)
Nov. 20th, 2013
(360  - As Soul Calibur II: HD Online)
Characters Mitsurugi, Yunsung, Cassandra, Talim, Maxi, Ivy, Kilik, Taki, Voldo, Xianghua, Nightmare, Astaroth, Lizardman, Yoshimitsu, RafaelCharade, Seung Mina, Sophitia, Cervantes, Berserker, Assassin, Necrid, Inferno, Heihachi (PS2), Spawn (Xbox), Link (GC)

Featured Video:

Related Games: Soul Calibur 2: HD Online, Soul Edge, Soul Calibur, Soul Calibur 3, Soul Calibur 3: AE, Soul Calibur 4, Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, Soul Calibur 5, Soul Calibur: Lost Swords, 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  8.0 / 10
Options / Extras  9.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  8.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  10 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  9.5 / 10
Characters  10 / 10

 9.9 / 10

 Review based on PS2 version


Final Words:

Soul Calibur 2 is a superb game for both casual and high level players. The gameplay system is stellar, and once you master a few character movesets and experience all of the gameplay ins & outs, you'll discover incredible depth. Every character can be used effectively, and besides some "cheap" guaranteed combos that top players can abuse, SC2 is considerably balanced... and most importantly, fun!

One of my favorite qualities of Soul Calibur 2 is the speed... SC2 is considerably faster than SC1, SC3, SC4 and SC5. The speed and the dynamic movesets make SC2 my personal favorite of the series, still to this day. For the record, even though the original Soul Calibur scored a perfect
10 on TFG... I consider SC2 to be the superior game in terms of gameplay.

When SC2 first arrived, I was hoping to see a few more "new" fighting styles/characters. At a glance, the "presentation" didn't seem quite as polished as SC1... but after experiencing the character & system updates, there was no going back to SC1 for me. Namco redefined all of the returning characters' styles, making them seem completely new. In my opinion, the stages could've been designed a tad better and could've featured some "environmental interaction." However, the wall game added an exceptionally fun and strategic element to the gameplay (not to mention wall jumps)!

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, characters have different win quotes & introductions after nearly EVERY battle. Why didn't that awesomeness crossover into the VS mode!?  That small detail would've made VS mode less repetitive, but that certainly didn't stop me from playing the hell out of SC2. Lastly, the boss of the game (Inferno) isn't that exciting (since he was reused from the first game), and the character endings are sleepy. That said, SC2 could've offered a slightly better presentation for casual players... but this game honestly wasn't made for casual players.

Alongside its beauty and epicness, SC2 has its fare share of funny quirks, "silly physics" moments, and other seemingly unintended humor that make it memorable and timeless. My close friends and I put countless hours (years) into this game. Even after all the sequels, something about SC2 still seems "better" and more fun. 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 finest fighting games of all time. Over 15 years later, and it's still an amazing and competitive game, deserving of a (better) remastered version than SC2: HD Online. (But hey, it's better than nothing.) That said, you can also check out my Soul Calibur 2: HD Online for a look at the PS3/360 enhancement from 2013.  ~TFG Webmaster



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