After all this time, and with the next generation upgrades, high-def graphics and impressive surges forward in 'jiggle' physics, you'd think that gamers would have locked this bad boy in the closet and left it to a dusty demise, but no. A great game is a great game, regardless of when it was made or how it may look against the brighter stars nowadays. It's just not done like this anymore. From the spectacular gameplay to even simple things like offering English or Japanese language for the purist in us who likes to play it as it was intended by the creators. SoulCalubur II was almost the complete package.
It had already established itself, dominating the arcades and home consoles in its first incarnation, and the second version worked on addressing the fans' suggestions and complaints. The evade system was overhauled so that the sidestepping and dodging was an easier, more accessible prospect. They implemented the clash mechanic, so that any two attacks launched at the same time would culminate with a bright, white flash. They threw in extra attack combinations for players who hit their timing sweet spot. They put defensive players on notice with a post-guard impact, resonating after a successful block. These are little touches, to be sure, but necessary to get the balance right.
The SoulCalibur series has always differentiated itself by taking an alternate path from its peers, offering weapon-based attacks as opposed to the traditional punches and kicks. The single player would enjoy traversing through the usual bag of tricks, with Arcade Mode, Survival Mode, Time Attack and Team Battle mode, and also get a lick of Weapons Master Mode, a unique slant n the typical "Story Mode." Instead of facing off against enemy after enemy, this mode had it's own little twist. Rather than just whittling down your opponent's health, Weapons Master Mode gave you specific conditions each match, to take down the lizard men, assassins or berserkers between each mini-boss fight. These conditions range from 'only using throws', to 'ring out your opponent'. Also, actual physical conditions can change, like gale force winds battering the arena, and other natural/unnatural occurrences.
The added incentive to persevere was that shiny new sword, shield, staff, axe or nunchuck set waiting on the side of victory. These weapons can be used in any mode of the game, and give you questionable bonuses in battle. This gave the game longevity for those completionists out there.
I must say that the storyline is a little generic, but that's not why you played SoulCalibur II now, was it? It was about hardcore, unrelenting action, and this puppy has it in spades.
Regardless of which platform you chose, you'd receive a double bonus. Project Soul hits you up with a newly designed character by Todd McFarlane, creator of 'Spawn', called Necrid, an unholy abomination with a pulsating orb in his chest. Necrid was met with mixed reviews, as his futuristic look didn't really fit the theme of the other characters. He was also one of those 'mimicky' ones that pulled out an energy weapon from his chest and emulated other characters. The second hit came through as a console-specific character to help sweeten the deal. The PlayStation got Heihachi from the Tekken series (...meh). Xbox owners got the comic book character, Spawn (a double dose of McFarlane for them).
But these two characters paled in comparison to the mighty and immseley powerful guardian of time, wind, truth, justice, and twilight princessessesses, everyone's favourite pointy-eared hero, Link!
Call me crazy, but I could feel the love that Project Soul had for Link, and perhaps even an uncharted soft-spot, as he was by far the easiest to bring the smack down with. Almost everyone was left howling in defeat once he unsheathed his mighty sword and went to work. Some complained that it was unbalanced and unfair, but I feel that it was a fitting tribute to the green (or red, in this game) clad hero.
I urge all of you that have not played this game, to play it.
And to all of those people that have left SoulCalibur II under a thick
layer of dust: get it out and play it; you won't be disappointed.