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DZNUTZ
06-17-2002, 02:34 PM
June 14, 2002 - We recently had the chance to spend some quality time with the most recent arcade build of Soul Calibur II. Shown at E3 behind closed doors, this machine was just a little more up-to-date than the one our man in Japan messed around with in his last hands-on report. He played a version 0.79 test unit while we laid hands on the newer 0.80 version, which had all of the characters unlocked and playable.

Jeremy's Impressions
The first thing anyone will notice about Soul Calibur II is that the graphics have received a little boost thanks to the System 246-powered hardware. Environments feature greater detail than in the Dreamcast game with lots of geometry around the ring, and quite a bit of variety in the fighting environments.

Some arenas are made up of just the traditional ring with nothing preventing you from falling out, while others have walls or other obstacles that you can use to your advantage just like in Virtua Fighter 3 and 4 and Tekken 4. The game doesn't use advanced stage interaction though, so don't expect the levels to feature the free-roaming movement or destructibility as seen in the Dead or Alive series. Characters have also received a graphics facelift with higher polygon counts and more geometry on their model, which gives each and every one a much more detailed appearance.

The arcade version is running on the System 246 arcade board, which is based on the PlayStation 2 hardware. This arcade rev looks great, which means that owners of all three consoles will be in for a real treat when the game finally comes home. However, looking at Soul Calibur II the one thing that made an impression on the graphics side of things was how much it did look like the critically acclaimed Dreamcast game, only with more geometry sprinkled about. This really isn't a knock against the game, but rather a testament to how incredible that first-generation DC fighter was.







When the IGN crew played the game at E3, we took turns beating the crap out of each other for the time we had with the machine. As tempting as those new characters were, I stuck with my boy Kilik and immediately noticed that the speed of the game has been cranked up a notch or two. It's not something that throws the gameplay out of balance, but it's definitely a bit speedier than the original Soul Calibur and will no doubt force some players to have to adjust their combo strategy.

But despite the minor boost in game speed, just a couple minutes with the game will have Soul Calibur veterans whooping ass as usual. The game still uses the four-button layout with High Attack, Low Attack, Kick, and Guard/Block and many favorite moves from the last game have returned along with a few new ones for each character such as specific attacks that can be used when your opponent is against the wall.

We only had a short time with the machine and we didn't want to let go of it, but those few bouts we had with our favorite Soul Calibur characters just made the long wait for a home version even more painful.

Mark's Impressions
When one thinks of the greatest fighting game Soul Calibur comes to mind. At E3 IGN got to sample the next step in fighting game goodness in the form of Soul Calibur II -- but weren't allowed to write anything about that version until now. Not much is different in this sequel. The character models are smoother, the fighting is a bit faster, but all in all the fighting system is the same and every character I played had pretty much all of the same moves.

When playing Xianghua her moves were just as fast as usual. Some of her throws were different, but her striking moves seemed to be all there. I liked the different costumes she wore -- both her white and red outfits were a homage to the original Soul Calibur with subtle differences (more skin showing. Nanchate!)
Voldo is as crazy as ever. I could never keep up with which button combinations perform what moves. His movements are smoother and even creepier than in the original and he keeps your opponent constantly guessing what his next move will be. Voldo still sports his bizarre bondage wardrobe while grooving to the beats rocking in his head. Thankfully he has lost the strange crotch horn.

Raphael reminds me of the Black Rose from Bushido Blade 2. Two star! One of the four new characters to grace Soul Calibur II, Raphael is really quick, mainly because the art of fencing forces one to be swift and graceful with his blade. Raphael's combos are rapid and deadly keeping his opponent on the defensive.

Those were the only characters I got to play. The editors of IGN were switching off and there were about a total of eight people playing. Soul Calibur II is a great game, if you like more of the same, but you know what, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Jason's Impressions
I managed to get in three rounds of Soul Calibur II at E3, definitely one of my highlights of the show.

All of the new (announced) characters were available, including Raphael, a European fencer, and Talim, an Asian female fighter with dual blades. Both are completely new additions to the Soul Calibur universe.

Raphael fights with a thin blade and moves quickly, with good reach. In some respects he reminds me of Xianghua, although her moves are much more elegant and dance-like, whereas he is a swordfighter. He is a nice change of pace though, considering many of the male fighters in this game are just heavy bruisers.

Talim is another speedy fighter, and her dual attacks reminded me slightly of Taki, although she has better reach and I think a bit more health than the notoriously fragile ninja of the first game. Her stage suggested that her origin was from India.

The other two new characters are replacements for characters whose single-player storylines in Soul Calibur 1 made it impractical for their return. So we have Yunsung in place of Hwang, and Cassandra taking over for her older sister Sophitia, who got married and had a kid at the end of Soul Calibur 1. But apart from some move tweaks and slightly different character designs, these two aren't all that different from their predecessors. For example, many of Sophitia's old moves worked more or less the same when I used Cassandra.







Graphically the game looks superb. The backgrounds are deep and detailed, and the stages look at least as good as anything we've seen in other games. Still, this isn't such a huge leap beyond Soul Calibur I as one might expect, that game was simply ahead of its time and still holds up today. Don't expect quite that level of innovation this time around.

The stages are still non-interactive, at least compared to the Dead or Alive series, but there certainly are still plenty of edges for ring outs. What's new though is the introduction of walls on some of the levels, that let you pin an opponent against rather than ring them out.

And before you ask, no, there was of course no sign of Link in the version we played. It will be interesting to see how Namco is planning to integrate Nintendo's Hylian swordsman into the GameCube version. I'm sure he will have his own character model, but I would be surprised if he ended up with his own motion captured moves, weapons, and play-balance. Rather, I expect they'll base him off of one of the existing characters, just as Lizard Man was a clone of Sophitia, Rock was Astaroth, and so on.

So which one? There are several possibilities. Sophitia.errr, I mean Cassandra.is the only one who uses both sword and shield. I'd put my money on her, but would that mean no Lizard Man? I hope not! Raphael is a possibility too, since he's also a lighter character with a sword, and has no "cloned character" already. And finally there's Ivy, who also doesn't have a clone, while her sword has the interesting ranged attack that is somewhat reminiscent of Link's tools.

Regardless, Soul Calibur II is near the top of my list of must-get games for 2002.
http://xbox.ign.com/articles/362/362326p2.html

Kilik
06-17-2002, 02:44 PM
Thats a good read I love that game on the DC so I will 4sure get
this game when it comes out.

JJaX
06-17-2002, 03:04 PM
THE LEGEND WILL NEVER DIE