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Soul Calibur 2

The original Soul Calibur was a classic; many consider it to be the best fighting game of all time. After a four-year wait, we finally have the sequel in our hands. I've got mixed feelings on this one.

Nearly every aspect of the game has received a small upgrade. The main change to the fighting system is a greater emphasis on the "Guard Impact" system of countering, which is difficult but very effective and a lot of fun. The new characters are well-done, and I was pleasantly surprised at the significant revisions made to the returning fighters. This is a nice contrast to the simple rehashing that returning characters usually get in a sequel to an existing fighting game.

Weapon Master mode is similar to the quest-type modes from Soul Blade and Soul Calibur, with a return of the upgradable weapons from Soul Blade. Getting new weapons is fun, but if your emphasis is on versus play, the weapons more of a gimmick than anything- it's hard to involve upgraded weapons in a versus battle against your friend without creating a serious mismatch. The graphics are better than Soul Calibur, but they're more of an evolution than a leap forward, and they don't hold a candle to Dead Or Alive 3. Some of the levels now have walls, but the walls are only simple obstacles, which feels pretty lame when compared to the interactive environments of Dead Or Alive 2 and 3.

So, it's an excellent game and a must-own if you're into fighters. Without a doubt, everything in this game is very well done and represents an improvement over the original. Still, I'm a bit disappointed. Soul Calibur was an astounding leap forward in 1999, blowing away everything else on the market and setting new standards in graphics and gameplay. There was a magical feeling with that game; you knew you were playing a true breakthrough.

Soul Calibur 2 is a nice upgrade, but definitely not revolutionary. Nonetheless, you're fucking nuts if you don't buy it.

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