Soul Calibur III
 

 

STORY:  The wicked Soul Edge survived its fated encounter with the wielder of Soul Calibur, Xianghua, and restored its control over the body of Siegfried Schtauffen, turning him back into the Azure Knight Nightmare. Four years later, Nightmare was about to restore Soul Edge, when suddenly a man named Raphael who wielded a thin rapier appeared, intending on taking Soul Edge. Nightmare defeated the attacker, but was distracted by Siegfried's latent will trying to restore his body. Using the distraction, Raphael pierced Soul Edge's eye, giving Siegfried the edge he needed to break free from Soul Edge's control once again.

After waking up, Siegfried found the holy sword, free from its entrapment within the wicked sword, and out of instinct used it to pierce Soul Edge. The result led to both swords sealed together in a fateful embrace, an Embrace of Souls. Siegfried took both weapons and started a quest to find a definitive way of sealing Soul Edge, but memories of his slaughters, plus the attacks of those resentful of the Azure Knight, drove his mind towards insanity. Unbeknownst to him, the evil soul of the blade escaped and obtained a temporary shell, starting a new killing spree to strengthen himself while seeking its body, Soul Edge. What neither of the two warriors knows is that a man behind the scenes is controlling their steps, searching to end an everlasting curse. And that many other warriors ventured in search of the blade as well.
 

Nightmare and Siegfried are once again two separate characters... or are they.  

 
REVIEWThe Soul Calibur series has remained among the most elite 3D fighting franchises for quite a few years now. Following in it's predecessors footsteps, Soul Calibur 3 is another solid fighting game experience, although a lot has changed in terms of gameplay. According to many players, Soul Calibur 2 had a near perfect gameplay system, so SC3 had some very big shoes to fill. And changing something that isn't actually "broken" is always risky.

Soul Calibur 3
is the first of the series to be released on home consoles first, then released for the arcade. Considering the technology available at the time, this ended up being a big mistake on Namco's part, as high level players quickly found certain glitches and balance issues which couldn't be remedied or patched on the dated PS2. These bugs were later fixed in Soul Calibur 3: Arcade Edition, making the home version irrelevant (for some players) after the updated arcade version released.  However, and as you'd expect, the home version included plenty of cool extras and new modes, notably the new Create-a-character and Chronicles of the Sword mode, making it a must have fighting game for casual and serious fans alike.

Like any quality sequel, SC3 is packed with awesome looking new stages as well as characters. The three new characters (Tira, Zasalamel & Setsuka) each have incredibly innovative fighting styles and look equally as cool, which proves that Namco hasn't lost their fire. Besides the 3 new faces, you'll come across many new fighting styles within "The Chronicle of the Sword" mode, which allows your created character to star in a "strategy-ish" battle game. It's actually a pretty fun mode because you get to create your own clan of warriors and even completely alter their appearance to your liking as you play through it. The story isn't that deep however; it's pretty much battle after battle, but your characters "level up" as you win fights and along with becoming more powerful, they even gain the ability to learn new weapon styles, including several of the classic styles of the Soul Calibur veterans.
 

Setsuka's umbrella-sword fighting style is brilliantly done.

 
The "Tales of Souls" story mode is better than ever, now giving the player an option to change his/her path, which will allow them to face off against different fighters each time. "Quick-time" events also make for cool interaction with the story, although, many of them are the same for every character.... Booooring! Sure there's a lot of text as well within story mode, but at least each character has a real ending this time around (using the in-game graphics), not to mention cool alternate endings! I'm sure some people would have appreciated endings based on the amazing game intro graphics, but Namco still gives an entertaining presentation from beginning to end of each character's story.

SC3's visuals are impressive overall, pushing the PS2 to it's graphical limitations. On that note, to get the absolute best out of the PS2's graphics, an HDTV actually isn't the first choice. In my opinion, Soul Calibur 3 will look it's absolute best on a quality flat-screen SD television using component cables! Most HDTV's will stretch the picture, and even in "wide screen mode" (selectable from SC3's options menu), the game will look much more pixilated and blurry on an HD screen. Although it will look better on an HDTV if you're using a PS3 with "upscaling" and "PS2 Smoothing" turned on. In any case, give your PS2's graphics a fair chance and hook it up the right way before judging how the game looks. 

Overall, the clothing, lighting, and hit effects all have been significantly improved. Each of the stages also sport their own unique "eye candy," especially for a last-gen system.
The stage designs of SC3 are some of the best of the series, all of which graphically impressive in some way and brilliantly designed. And props to Namco for bringing back some of the classic backdrops from SC and SC2, complete with updated visuals and even remixed BGMs of the original themes.... On that note, I read in a seemingly "professional" review that SC3 "re-used" old themes from previous games, which is flat-out wrong. Some people are tone deaf. 
 

If epic underboob is your thing... Tira is your girl.

 
Now that we got the cosmetic stuff out of the way, it's time to talk about the more important aspects of the game; the gameplay... and this is where the tone of my review will take a sharp turn (you've been warned). Firstly, the "character control" in SC3, along with the characters themselves, feel almost completely different from SC2's, which isn't a very good thing considering the prequel was so solid and so damn fun.

Of course, all the returning characters have updated movelists, but this time around there are a significant amount of different "commands" for classic maneuvers... which means us veterans have to basically re-learn the characters.  Unfortunately, this immediately gives would-be players of all levels an excuse why they don't want to play SC3 (or why they suck)....  No, not a good thing. On top of that, many moves, stances, and cancels from SC2 are completely missing!!!   *sigh* The good news is, all returning characters have some pretty cool looking new moves, new stances, and overall; more well rounded and "streamlined" movelists.

The move commands are more "spread out" this time around, making many characters somewhat easier to use for beginners (button mashers). Yep, SC3 is slightly more button-masher friendly than SC2. Certain characters like Taki and Nightmare have been given some RIDICULOUSLY powerful moves, causing "explosions" and such.... When those two are fighting, it almost seems like this game should be called Battle Arena Toshinden-Calibur 3!!!  On that note, many of the create-a-character fighting styles are also a bit off-the-wall, silly, and unrealistic... Namco Bandai definitely seems like they aren't going for a "serious" tone in this game (in contrast to the badass intro). For example, several create-a-character fighting styles feature "projectiles" like bombs & lightning bolts, disappearing, teleporting and even Sun Wukong Monkey King extendable/growing bo staffs? WTF!!! This is Soul Calibur! Did someone forget?
 

Create your own Soul Calibur combatant and take him or her through Story Mode!

 
Onto some more positive aspects.... The computer AI has also improved very much from SC2 and puts up a good fight. It even walks away from edges to avoid a ring out... nice! If there's one really good thing about SC3, it's the VS mode. You can choose from 2 different costumes per character, plus 2 color edits. Player 1 can also select the same costume as player 2, with different colors, if both players pick the same character... something we didn't see in the earlier games (or see in other 3D fighting games for that matter). After you select your costume, its time to select your weapon, and thankfully in SC3's VS mode the special weapon effects have been turned off! Does that matter? Yeah, to people who play the hell out of Soul Calibur! It's nice being able to change up the look of your weapon, like your character. "Random Creation" has also been introduced in the VS mode, which allows players to have the computer randomly create a character for you, using the items that you've unlocked. Pretty cool, but more than not the "randomly created" character ends up looking far more hilarious than cool...  especially if it creates something like a ninja fighting with tambourines.

The Create-a-Character mode might be the star of the show in SC3. You can create up to 10 characters on one memory card... not bad. The amount of detail you can put into your created characters is the most comprehensive of any fighting game to date, however there is unfortunately a fair amount of glitching on certain clothing combinations.   The fact that you can create you own character is cool and all, but another brilliant feature is the color-edit mode, where you can customize the clothing color and hair color of ALL your favorite Soul Calibur characters... Badass! And with an entire palette of colors to choose from, there are really unlimited possibilities. Trust me, it's nice to be able to change the way the game looks when you play it as much as some of us do. Namco really went all out.... Every Soul Calibur character you would want is in this game, not to mention a crap-load of "bonus" characters representing their own fighting style as well. SC3 is packed with extras, most of which most gamers might not even notice. There's tons to unlock, and it's a fun process... unless you have a Gameshark, that is. 

As great a package as Soul Calibur 3 on PS2 is, at the end of the day, the gameplay just doesn't feel as solid or as fun as SC2. There are also some nasty glitches found within the gameplay, including "throw cancels" and a certain technique which makes guard impacts nearly pointless to use. Then again, if players don't use these glitches, the game isn't really broken anymore. In any case, the "Arcade Edition" of SC3 was released after the console release, a first ever for a Namco fighting game, and remedied these glitches.

 
Page Updated: December 21st, 2013
Developer(s): Namco
Publisher(s): Namco
Designer(s): Hiroaki Yotoriyama
Artwork by: Takuji Kawano
Platform(s): Playstation 2, Arcade (as SCIII: Arcade Edition)
Release Date(s): October 25th, 2005 ( PS2)
November 18th, 2005 ( PS2)
November 23rd, 2005 ( PS2)
Characters Mitsurugi, Siegfried, Nightmare, Tira, Setsuka, Zasalamel, Cassandra, Taki, Voldo, Ivy, Kilik, Astaroth, Cervantes, Talim, Li Long, Yoshimitsu, Rock, Lizardman, Maxi, Seong-Mina, Sophitia, Yun-seong, Xianghua, Hwang, Olcadon, Raphael, Valeria, Demuth, Luna, Abelia, Girardot, Chester, Arthur, Amy, Greed, Miser, Lynette, Auriela, Strife, Revenant, Abyss, Night Terror

Featured Video:

Related Games: Soul Calibur 3: Arcade Edition, Soul Edge, Soul Calibur, Soul Calibur 2, Soul Calibur 2: HD Online, Soul Calibur 4, Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, Soul Calibur 5, Soul Calibur: Lost Swords, Soul Calibur Legends, Battle Arena Toshinden

Gameplay Engine
 8 / 10
Story / Theme
 8 / 10
Overall Graphics
 8.5 / 10
Animation
 9 / 10
Music / Sound Effects
 9.5 / 10
Innovation
 9 / 10
Art Direction
 9 / 10
Customization
 10 / 10
Options / Extras
 9.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation
 9 / 10
Replayability / Fun
 6.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor
 9.5 / 10
Characters
 8.5 / 10
BOTTOM LINE

8.4 / 10

 Review based on PS2 version
Final Words:

Soul Calibur 3 is fun if you're planning on learning a new character or two... that is, even if you already learned that character in Soul Calibur 2. Yeah, there were waaay more changes to the characters and the game than there ever should have been. Of course there are many new moves, combos and strategies to learn; but for those players who put countless hours into mastering any number of SC2 characters... Soul Calibur 3 will most definitely leave them very disappointed. 

....Especially if you're an Ivy, Taki, Nightmare, or Mitsurugi player; (to name a few characters). Why change how Ryu performs a Hadoken (like all of a sudden making it a backwards fireball motion)? Well, then why change the way Ivy fights all together? Most of her cool stances which became second nature for any SC2 Ivy player (spiral serenade for example), are completely gone, out the window....  No doubt depressing to anyone who spent hours upon hours, upon hours learning her in the first game. *raises hand*

I can understand why Namco was trying to balance things out and keep things fresh, but a lot of characters ended up feeling dumbed down... not all characters, but quite a few. I can understand changing up priorities and damage levels; but why make my favorite character less dynamic? Why take out cancels and move transitions that weren't even overpowered or cheap in the first place? Jet3000 and I were (and still are) serious SC2 players. We've been to a handful of tournaments; and we've discussed all the drastic differences between SC2 and SC3. That said, he and I prefer Soul Calibur 2 to Soul Calibur 3 any day of the week.

At the end of the day, while SC3 might not be as fun or as deep as SC2, when compared to other 3D fighting games, it's still a quality fighting game by all means. As far as weapon-based 3D fighting goes, Soul Calibur is still the cream of the crop. I "overrated" Soul Calibur 3 when it first came out, simply because I was so excited to play a new Soul Calibur game... considering how many hours I put into the first two. In the long run I was disappointed in SC3, but SC4 made up for it.  ~TFG Webmaster

 
      
             
 
                    
 
                    
 

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