Soul Calibur was released for the Sega Dreamcast in 1999 and considered by many as the greatest fighting game ever made. The graphics were crystal clear and the play mechanics were rock solid. The game was so successful that millions of gamers, including myself, eagerly awaited the release of the anticipated sequel. That time is now, four years after the original release.

The Dreamcast had sadly long past away and Soul Calibur 2 was announced to be released on all three major consoles: Sony’s Playstation 2, Nintendo’s GameCube, and Microsoft’s X-box. This sounded like a fine idea, but what worried me the most was that because the game was being developed for all three consoles, the quality of the game would most likely suffer in one way or another.

Each of the games contains an exclusive character: Playstation 2 receives Heihachi, X-box receives Spawn, and GameCube receives Link, the long rumoured and anticipated playable character. Link has a huge fan base, so huge that in the early weeks of release the GameCube version actually outsold the Playstation 2 version, despite the fact of GameCube’s much smaller install base.

Because of Link’s huge popularity, he was a wise decision for an exclusive character. Link’s character was very well put together. Everything a fan of Zelda would want to do is fully possible. After playing the game over a period of time, I was unsure that if each character was equally balanced fairly. Balance is very important in a fighting game such as this, especially with the excusive characters, secret characters, and the returning characters. I was happy to find that the game is very well balanced and it’s very possible to win with any character you choose. The only thing you need in order to win is practice.

The games primary controls are similar to the Dreamcast controls, only with a substantial controller difference. The A button is used for a horizontal attack, the Y button for a vertical attack, the X button for kicks, and the B button, L button, and the R button are all used for your guard. You also have the option of using the C stick and the Z button to perform advanced button combinations with a single tap. For instance, if you tap the Z button once, it will function as if you pressed the A, Y, and X buttons all at once. This can be a real time saver in those important battles, but can sometimes take some time to get accustomed to it, especially if you’re not use to using the C stick and the Z button. In fact the GameCube controller set-up can cause some awkwardness, compared to the PS2 controller, but in no way does this take away from the enjoyment of the games. The GameCube controller isn’t exactly famous for fighting games, but Namco managed to pull it off nicely.

The martial arts in this game is excellent. All of the kicks, trips, and flips are incredibly smooth and well done. The game play itself is top notch. All of the original modes are included as well as a new weapon master mode. Some of the original modes include arcade mode, VS mode, time attack, survival, team battle, VS team battle, and practice mode. The weapon master mode allows you to collect and use a total of 200 alternate weapons, which you purchase by winning gold. It’s a kind of mission quest where you advance through a map and battle characters under special rules, to make things more challenging.

Most of the game menus are fairly easy to navigate, even more so if you’re familiar with the original. The rules and basic techniques remain intact. If you’ve played the original, however, don’t expect everything to be the same. The original characters are complete with some new moves, which are very creative. The characters include: Astaroth, Cassandra, Ivy, Kilik, Link, Maxi, Mitsurugi, Necrid, Nightmare, Raphael, Taki, Talim, Voldo, Xianghua, and Yunsung. The secret characters include: Cervantes, Charade Seung, Mina, Sophitia, and Yoshimitsu. The character selection is great and each character is equipped with a deadly weapon. All of the weapons are very cool and make some of the fighting more interesting, but I’m a big fan of hand to hand combat. Seeing some pure Kung-Fu without weapons is my greatest desire. Maybe even a drunken fighter to make things fun.

The arenas are also changed. Not only are they different, they’re a huge improvement over the original. In the first Soul Calibur game you could basically get ringed out in every arena. Getting knocked out of the ring is an automatic loss and happened all too often. In Soul Calibur 2, the new environments are still large and open areas, but they’re more structured and contain more walls. The walls prevent all of the ring outs, making matches a little longer. You can even perform tricks off of the walls adding more fun to the level.

Soul Calibur 2 has wonderful tunes during battle and the sound effects are also near perfect. With all of the weapons and martial arts everything sounds like it should in a video game. The voice acting is now in English and the announcer is similar to the first game. I had no real problems, but to be honest I preferred the original Japanese voices with subtitles, like in the first game. I don’t know why, but I dislike English dubbing in movies and video games. It’s just not the way it’s intended to be. Anyway, the voices are still decent and the game’s audio really shows in the brilliant music.

Visually Soul Calibur 2 is very colourful, detailed, and appealing. The environments weren’t as eye-catching as the original, but they do hold more detail. I thought the surroundings were detailed and the textures were very sharp. The character models are also detailed, but not perfectly smooth and crisp. Along with this are all of those classic graphical glitches you see in every 3D game, but don’t expect any of them to slow you down or ruin the game. The visuals are somewhat an improvement over the first game, however not by much. Videogames are at a point where improvements graphically are minimal. They only take small steps forward and not huge leaps. All considered, the graphics are very well done and so gorgeous that they’re just plain fun to look at.

Soul Calibur 2 is easily the best fighting game available for the GameCube. It’s fun, challenging, long lasting, and hugely popular, for good reasons. Beautifully executed with very smart improvements made by Namco. If you like fighting games, this is the one I recommend you pick up. Other reviews on mobile applications you can read on this site