Soul Calibur 2 is the shit, and anyone who says otherwise is a Nazi child molester.
Let me back up, here. You may remember, back when the site first started producing content on a regular basis, a review of Soul Calibur V by our good friend Jew. This was originally supposed to be one half of a larger two-part review, wherein I would take a look back at Soul Calibur 2 in comparison to V. However, like a lot of things on the site, that part of the review was sucked into the ether, i.e. didn’t get written because I’m a lazy fucking bastard. So, I’m a bit late to the party on this one.
“But Frank”, you find yourself asking out loud because you talk to your computer like it’s an actual person, “why go back and look at SC2? Isn’t that game like 40 years old now, or something?”. A hand then immediately reaches out and slaps you across the face, because ain’t nobody talk shit on SC2. Actually, the real reason is due to something I must confess: up until a few months ago, I didn’t own a copy of Soul Calibur 2. Yes, I know, shock, awe, and travesty. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly played the shit out of SC2 over at a friend’s house, but by the time I had enough money to buy it myself, Soul Calibur 3 was coming out. And I can’t resist a good create-a-fighter mode. I’ve also owned 4, most recently V (I refuse to refer to that game as a proper sequel), and even the XBLA version of Soul Calibur 1. Hell, I had Soul Blade running under emulation on my PSP. So, after playing V and hating it, and after many long diatribes from Jew about SC2 was better than getting one’s dick sucked by a Valkyrie, I had to pick up a copy. I grabbed it on GameCube so I could play as Link, because that’s how I roll.
Now, I don’t really have to give the game any praise, since it’s all been said before. The damn thing is near perfect, and if it were rereleased with netplay I would buy the shit out of it (hint fucking hint, Namco). It took the solid engine of the original and refined the combat, making it faster and more technical. It also fixed most of the balance issues, aside from the guest characters (Link is God, and Heihachi fights like a cripple), and Necrid McJesusrapist (who has every good attack from every character with way faster startup and recovery times). The character designs are simple, solid, and work very well, the music is great, and the graphics still look pretty damn good even by today’s standards. So, what could I find wrong with it?
Simple. Weapon master mode is duct-taped together as all hell.
Don’t get me wrong, weapon master mode is fucking great. It has a shitload of replay value, and gives you a taste of every character’s play style due to its situational nature. It’s definitely better than that POS strategy thing in III (which was so poorly coded that the save files could corrupt entire memory cards, which happened to me once), or the Tower of Lost Souls in IV, or the …thing in V (fucking ripoff). But it just looks halfassed. Weapon master mode supposedly takes place 100 years in the past or something, but due to SC2 lacking a create-a-fighter mode we’re stuck with renamed versions of the characters already in the game. I’ve fought what’s supposedly the same guy under the guise of both Raphael, Nightmare, and Inferno. Compounding the issue is the fact that there’s only two generic characters, Berzerker and Assassin, who you’ll be seeing more than Ivy’s titties.
If V’s campaign was a large story cut extremely short and then done up to look nice, 2’s weapon master mode is a large story held together by stretching and reusing assets. Sure, I would much rather have 2’s campaign than V’s, but both smack of the dev team running out of time. There are even hints that the create-a-fighter mode was supposed to be included, such as weapon master’s length and habit of referring to unseen characters, and the fact that Berzerker and Assassin have multiple costume changes that seem to be made out of different parts. Unfortunately, that feature was saved for 3, and gameplay suffered accordingly (though 3 is still pretty fucking good in my opinion. Take that, Jew). If Namco did that rerelease, maybe they could be kind enough to restore the feature to what was intended…
Aside from that, Soul Calibur 2 is an example of gaming done right. It’s sad that the series has gone downhill since then, but who knows what the future holds. Before the tsunami and other disasters that struck Japan, SCV was looking very promising. Namco has admitted that many cuts were made to make the game meet its release date, so perhaps we’ll see a much nicer product in Soul Calibur 6 (or at least a rerelease of 2 with HD graphics, netplay, and a CAF mode). Until then, I’ll be playing 2 on the GameCube.