Soul Calibur 2
Review By: Jeff

It's that time of the year again. When a game is hyped up more then the second coming of Jesus and thousands flock to stores like an army of zombies limping to an isolated farmhouse inhabited by people with delicious brains and thought provoking social commentary. Only this year the game in question doesn't involve climbing the ranks of organized crime or blasting parasitic aliens. No, this year it's all about fighting and family friendly bondage with Soul Calibur 2 from Namco.

Released for the Playstation 2, Xbox and Gamecube, SC2 is a perfect port of its arcade counterpart from last year with some nice additions to keep players busy when they should be doing more important things like gambling and seeing how many bullets those monks that go on The Tonight Show can dodge. Anyway, if you're familiar with the games in the Soul series (Blade, Spatula and Calibur),then you know the drill: fight your way to the last guy and then steal his lunch money. If your new to it then just take Tekken and give everyone weapons and that should give you a basic idea of what you're in for.

All the basics are included such as Arcade, VS, Team Battle and Practice but to really get your money out of the game, you'll need to play Weapons Master mode. Weapons Master is an RPG of sorts where you travel the world accomplishing tasks to earn EXP and Gold to purchase new weapons, costumes and galleries that are of no real use but nice little things thrown in for the hell of it. These tasks all involve fighting and sometimes have rules such as "Throws Only" or "Make a macaroni picture before time runs out". Completing these little goals rewards you with even more goals but occasionally a bonus of an EXTRA mode or free weapon will be given. These EXTRA modes are just like the default ones (Arcade, VS and so on) only now you can use the weapons you earn/buy in Weapons Master.

This games got a lot going for it in the graphics department as it easily sports the best visuals I've seen in a fighting game since I played Virtual Fighter 4: Evolution last week. The character models are sharp, clean and are greatly enhanced by the fluid animation to make each fight an enjoyment to see weither you're pummeling, being pummeled or just watching and making jokes about the loser. The backgrounds, however, while excellent in their own right and far above those of other games seem kind of bland but when you're playing a fighting game, the last thing you should be doing is looking away from the action.

The voice acting here is, for the most part, pretty good. Some lines are delivered well while others just sound awkward and are begging to be added to the list of Retard Videogames Character Qoutes up there with the likes of Barry "I've got this!" Burton and Richter "Die Demon, You don't belong here" Belmont. I'd like to comment on the music but I had my stereo on while playing and all I can remember is Axel Rose screaming "Yooouuuuuuuuuuu coulllllllllllddd beeeeee my - E - ine!".

As far as the controls go, they're fully customizable so the only question to ask is which system has the best controller. The PS2 controller worked great with it as it's easily the most welled designed out there and why wouldn't it be, its copied from the SNES. The Gamecube controller is actually easier to use then many have stated and with a little time (about 5 minutes) the whole strangeness of it will wear off. Didn't play the Xbox version so can't comment but I'll assume that the redesigned controller works as well as the PS2's.

Those that have lived in a cave for the last couple of months may not have heard about the Super Special Bonus Gift added for us Americans and possibly Europeans. The bonus was three new characters that can only be used in VS mode...oh well it's better than nothing, right? The system specific guys are a different story though as each comes with weapons, costumes and their own background. Link (Gamecube) is a quick fighter perfect for someone who wants to learn the ropes but doesn't want to use the cheap wussy characters. Heihachi (PS2) is just as powerful as he is in Tekken and having no weapon won't make a difference if he's controlled by a skilled player. Again, no Xbox = no comment on Spawn.

So if your soul still burns and it hurts when you pee then run like the wind to your nearest game dealer and pick up a copy of Soul Calibur 2, everyone else is. I'd like to use this space to apologize for the "Toasty" image, I just couldn't think of anything else.

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