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Old 02-02-2003, 06:59 PM   #44
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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This is how it's done

Soul Calibur - Dreamcast - Rating 10
By now, I think everybody is familiar with Namco's flagship fighting series Tekken. Part one was pretty cool when it first came out in arcades and Playstation. Two was even better and 3 rocked as well. But part 4 was a step in the wrong direction. I guess Itagaki (from Tecmo's Team Ninja) was right about that. However, even though part 4 was pretty bad, parts 2 and 3 are deeper fighting games than Dead or Alive 3, though nowhere near as polished. Both series are fun though.
However, both are also button mashers. In Tekken's case, it's more or less a game of memorizing 'press this button, then this button, then this button + forward here, etc.' to do a combo, and most of them are pre-set and easy to do (and counter) after the thousandth time, and they all play similar as a result (except for a wrestler like King). Dead or Alive 2 and 3, while they have better fighting engines than Tekken in many respects, don't have the masterful learning curve of something like Street Fighter 2. Instead, DoA suffers for its ultra-easy counter system. Both DoA and Tekken are fun series (with DoA3 being the most fun to play). Their big fault is that they're button mashers and do not have a steep enough learning curve.
Enter Soul Calibur. Released around the time of Dreamcast's launch, this Namco 3D weapons fighter remains a symbol in the genre as to what a great fighting system is (alongside Virtua Fighter 1, 2 and 4). The fighting system is intuitive and functionable, the characters are absolutely awesome, the game is deep with added secrets and the music is well-done. The counter system in SC is perhaps the best one ever made for a 3D fighter: tap back + guard/down-back + guard (or forward + guard/down-forward + guard) to counter/repel an attack high and low. Each character also has attacks you cannot deflet; they usually take a little longer to execute than standard attacks. There are 3 counters: Attack Counter, Run Counter and Back Dash Counter. Your character also has a library of attacks and combos. Each character takes work and time to make effective in combat (the way it should be), and it's a very even fighter. Juggles, throws, attacks while downed, guard impacts, and you can even 'soul charge' your character by pressing X, Y, and B which makes all your attacks have the same effect as a counter.
The graphics, while not as good technically as Dead or Alive 3, still look smooth and refined with very nice sceneries and locales. Excellent game design in its entirety. I must mention the character motion --- it is better than virtually every other 3D fighters (still) and this makes a BIG difference when it comes to game control.
The soundtrack is very nice and really helps bring the game to life. The music isn't as good as Soul Edge (this game's prequel) but it's not a big issue. As for extras, Namco jam-packed this baby with enough secrets to keep players happy for a long time to come. Whenever you win a full game in arcade mode or a fight in mission battle mode (I'll explain that in a minute) you gain points which you use as money to buy things in the museum. You also unlock the second roster of characters as you win with more characters, and you even gain new weapons for them all in mission battle mode.
In Mission Battle Mode you select a fighter and go to a world map where you use your icon to highlight different areas where different challenges await, such as defeat an opponent in a certain time limit, defeat all 3 opponents in a row, can only hurt the opponent with a throw, etc. Some of these are agitating because of their difficulty but it's a great way to truly get the fighting system down. There's also hidden locations unmarked on the map that you just have to find for yourself. There's even a mode to direct the opening sequence! Furthermore, you can even watch character embus (weapons demonstrations) which are awesome to say the least.
All told, Soul Calibur is definitely a fighting game with all the necessary credentials and is packed with a ton of extras. There's nothing to compain about with the game because it just does so many things the right way. Certainly the best game on Dreamcast (along with Shenmue) this title belongs in your game library. It's fun, challenging, addictive, interesting, and rewarding. It has aged gracefully and is currently my personal favorite 3D fighter. Good job Namco!

Last edited by Icarus4578; 10-07-2004 at 12:14 PM.
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