Richard Sawyer

Soul Calibur 2

12th June 2005
reviewer: Richard Sawyer
rating: 4 out of 5
developed by: Namco
published by: Namco
rrp: £19.99
formats: PS2/GC/Xbox

Following up the greatest weapons based beat-em up carried a high possibility of being a thankless task. Itís hard to see how the developers could go wrong, but having said that, how do you improve on a game, considered by many to be almost perfect?

The original Soul Calibur, on Segaís Dreamcast still stands up to todayís games. The graphics engine unleashed upon the world in 1999 was ahead of anything else available, and was arguably the Dreamcastís finest graphical moment. Four years in the making and Soul Calibur 2ís visuals are not a massive step beyond its prequelís; this however is more of a testament to the quality of the original. Compared to other games in the genre, Tekken 4 is surpassed, and DOA3 is at least challenged. The latter of these points is a superb achievement, considering DOA3 isnít tethered by the shackles of multi-format oppression.

More importantly, the combat itself remains faithful and intact. Not only this, but the seemingly minor adjustments to combat system, mainly in defence, have made for a more enjoyable and intense game. These improvements however, have only really affected the multiplayer experience. The single player game has been neutered slightly, by some rather dubious artificial intelligence. The AI players seem intent on blocking and encircling the gamer at all times, making the action somewhat stilted and a less enjoyable than it should be.

These flaws do not distract from the overall experience though. It does feel somewhat like a semi-sequel though, improving on an almost perfect game has this draw back. Having said this, the game, in general, does improve on the original. Remaking the original for the new generation would have been enough for this to fly off of the shelves, and as is gamers can be happy with the developerís efforts and ability not to totally mess things up.