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I never used to be a big fan of fighting games no matter what console they were released on, but I do remember enjoying the odd fight against a friend now and then on Street Fighter. All this changed when Dead Or Alive 3 came out on the Xbox, this was simply because of the beauty of the game, and unfortunately not the gameplay. Soul Calibur 2 has been a long time coming, but without a doubt, it is the best fighting game available on any of the next generation consoles right now.
For many people, Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast, released way back in 1999 is still considered to be one of the all time greatest fighting games. With this in mind, Namco haven't added a great deal of new stuff to the game, they have stuck with a formula that works.
The characters you have played as previously in Soul Calibur all return, but there are a couple of new ones thrown in for good measure - Raphael, who is a fencer and Talim, a woman who is rather small in size. Along with these new characters, each console version has had a special guest added to it, the Xbox version gets Spawn, created by Todd McFarlane. Spawn has the ability to fly and has some powerful damage to use up with his Axe.
Another Todd McFarlane character has been added (the last of the new bunch), Necrid, who is very fast and powerful, but he doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the cast.
The game play side is, as you would expect from a fighting game. It has various fighting modes such as Weapon Master mode - which is kind of like a mission side to a fighting game. They are not too bad - they consist of missions that take place in various different styles such as - massive winds, poisoned mode - where you much defeat the enemy whilst your health meter gradually drops lower and lower. The part that doesn't seem to work here though is the story side - it is full of text which is one reason it doesn't come across too well, people who play fighting games like to just get on with it, so you tend to skip past all of this. The more missions you complete, the more things you unlock, and the more gold you earn to buy better weapons for your fighter.
Thankfully the AI in the game is quite good, early on the enemies are not too hard to defeat, but the better you get, the harder the opponents get, and they begin to know how you fight and can block and hit back with great skill. But nothing can compare to fighting a fellow human player, and this is something I have been doing far more than playing the single player game.
The only let down here is the lack of any Xbox Live! support as Soul Calibur 2 would be an excellent addition to the Xbox Live! library.
Graphics & Sound
The main difference that people who have played both Soul Calibur and Soul Calibur 2 will notice is the major graphical overhaul the game has had. All of the returning characters you get to play as look different, all of the levels are new and some of the animations have been enhanced.
The game runs at 60 Frames per second, but there are times when the game does slow down a little. Nothing major but there are signs. The look of the game is good, it feels a little more "adult" than various other fighting titles and some of the characters really do look well designed.
Soundwise you can't go wrong, everything sounds great in Dolby 5.1, the voice-overs do grate a little, but you can revert back to the original Japanese versions so you don't have to hear the bad American voices.
I can't find much to fault Soul Calibur 2 on the Xbox as is - but the lack of Xbox Live! support is a major let down (how many times do we have to say that with each new release on the Xbox). Graphically again there isn't too much at fault here, it won't win any awards for flair but it does the job better than most other fighting games out right now. Soul Calibur 2 is easily the best fighting title on the Xbox since Dead or Alive 3 at the launch of the Xbox, and this beats it hands down.