Soulcalibur II.  What was it that I found so attractive about this game?  What was it that prompted me to lay down the cash necessary to buy it?  I am not a huge fan of fighting games.  Arcade fighting games are numerous, and there are many titles in that genre of higher repute than Namco’s sword-fighting classic.  What made Soulcalibur II so special?  Give me a moment as I try to recall.

Soulcalibur II was first released in arcades in 2002.  Console iterations soon followed with the game seeing release on the Playstation 2, Xbox, and GameCube.  Each of the console iterations had their own unique character.  The Playstation 2 version guest starred Heihachi Mishima from the Tekken series while the Xbox version was graced by the comic super hero, Spawn.  Which reminds me, now I remember why I was so drawn to Soulcalibur II.  Let me summarize my thoughts: “Oh, my gosh!  Link is in the GameCube version of Soulcalibur II!”

Huzzah! The hype has been doubled.

Thankfully, the presence of Link is far from Soulcalibur II‘s only saving grace.  The game has much more to offer than an epic cameo from one of the most recognizable icons in all of gaming.  The game is an extremely solid arcade fighter.  The fighting mechanics are simple and fluid.  Weaving together combos is easy and satisfying.  There is a lot of variety among the cast, with a character to suit every play style.  For instance, the terrifying Nightmare wields a ponderous blade that may require some telegraphing to strike with, but delivers impressive damage when the blow connects.  On the other end of the spectrum is Talim, a young girl wielding dual daggers, relying on agility and acrobatics to win the fight.

In terms of game modes, Soulcalibur II has quite a bit to offer.  First is the Arcade mode, which is simply a series of battles against various characters from the roster.  Then, players can go head-to-head against their friends in VS mode.  After that, the game includes a sort of “story” mode.  This is little more than a series of missions strung together by poorly-written text.  They often revolve around a certain gimmick, like having to defeat your foe by knocking them out of the arena, or fighting in an arena filled with booby traps.  Completed missions reward players with gold that can be used to purchase new weapons for their characters.

The graphics in Soulcalibur II are another high point for the game.  It is, without a doubt, an impressive presentation.  The character models are smooth and well-textured.  The animation runs well with no noticeable flaws.  The environments are stunning.  From garish cities surrounded by pristine waters, to ancient ruins, and even to the depths of Hell itself, all the stages are beautifully rendered.

Dare I say you can make a calender from the stages in Soulcailbur II?

The music is equally impressive.  Most of it can be described as grandiose fanfare.  This may sound like a trivialization of the game’s music, but the bombast nature of the score actually bestows a special sense of importance to every encounter.  Watching two little girls hack at each other with swords is made far more exciting than it sounds thanks to the somewhat-excessive soundtrack.

Speaking of little girls, that brings me to the only real complaint I have against the game.  The voice acting in Soulcalibur II is nothing to write home about, and some examples of it can be openly ridiculous.  However, the voice work for the younger female characters can only be classified as grating.  I realize that girls that age are supposed to have high-pitched voices, but is it necessary to have them scream every single time they are hit and squeal every single time they attack?

All griping aside, Soulcalibur II is a very solid fighter.  The controls are fluid and intuitive, making it a fun and gratifying experience.  If you’re looking for a great multiplayer game, Soulcalibur II is a game well worth looking into.  There may be more modern versions of the Soulcalibur series out there today, but Soulcalibur II on the GameCube will be a hard one to beat.  After all, it has Link in it.

Need I say more?
Review Score

Oprainfall’s Review System:

5 Stars- A Must Own Game. Games don’t get much better than this. We recommend you buy it if you can.
4 Stars- A Great Game. It’s not perfect, but it’s close. If you like the genre, you should like this game.
3 Stars- A Good Game. This game may have some flaws, but is enjoyable. Give it a try, you might like it.
2 Stars- A Poor Game. There is something off about this game. Fans of the series or genre might like it.
1 Star- A Bad Game. There are obvious flaws that keep the game from being enjoyable. We cannot recommend this game.

James Best
James Best is a recent addition to the oprainfall staff, joining just before E3 2012. Primarily a video game critic, he also reports on news occasionally. He hopes to become a professional critic sometime in the future. While he does enjoy a good RPG, he can appreciate a wide variety of genres from platformers to shooters.