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Soul Calibur, the definitive fighting game, bar none.
Oh dear Sony, what happened? The decision to release this game on Dreamcast came as a bit of a surprise to most people, as the first in this series Soul Edge (Soul Blade in the west) was a Playstation game and was a huge hit. Soul Calibur was running on the system 12 board, which is based on Playstation technology. So it was natural for people to assume that it was coming to Playstation. But it’s here on Dreamcast and I’m not going to complain, especially when you consider what a Playstation version would look like.<br> <br>The game has basically the same theme as Soul Edge with lots of Pirates and Knights all over the place. The options are similar as well, with the mission mode (or Edge Master mode as it was previously known) still present. This time round though you get pieces of art when you complete missions not weapons as before. There is a mode that gets unlocked and allows you to change the graphic of the weapon your character is using, but this is not quite the same. Weapons with different weights and strengths will probably be made accessible over the net soon enough. <br><br>Graphically this game is untouchable. It seems nowadays looking at pictures in magazines is not good enough. Soul Calibur definitely has to be seen in action, the characters move with such finesse that it is hard to believe quite what you are seeing. At first you will be amazed and then think, “well it doesn’t out shine VF3’s graphics”. Then when you have uncovered the exhibition mode and you are watching each fighter’s Kata routines you think back to what you have just been playing and you realize that this game is a work of art. After you have played it for a good few hours go back and play VF3 and you will realize just how good this game looks. There are no jagged edges on the characters like in previous fighting games. The characters have a kind of skin, which stretch with their every move. An option becomes available in mission battle that allows you to turn your fighter into a silver version of his or herself in arcade mode. This looks unbelievable and wipes the floor with Dural from VF3.<br><br>The sound will grab you least in this game, mainly because you are to busy staring at the graphics to notice it. But if you take the time to notice it then you will be impressed. Even if the actual tunes aren’t your thing you will still appreciate what they do for the overall atmosphere. The effects are what you expect and come off very well, they are of a very over the top nature sometimes and go well with the graphic effects of the weapons.<br><br>One of the best features is the “dodge” system. Dubbed 8-way run, this is without a doubt the best dodge system around. The way it works is that it allows you to run around your opponent rather than going just one step to either side. The effect is excellent and opens up possibilities for new moves, infact some moves can only be performed while during an 8-way run. Soul Calibur has loads and loads of moves and they are all accessible through a command list, which you can bring up by pressing start during a match. This is quite handy and saves time when trying to figure out moves and combinations.<br><br>For a fighting game this game is jam packed with features, there is so much to find. You have an art gallery, a theatre mode, a survival mode… The list is nearly endless. The best mode is the mission battle, which involves you completing missions for points, which you then use to buy pieces of art. These pieces of art unlock things like other missions, backgrounds, modes and costumes. Fights in mission mode involve you beating an opponent in a specific way, which is explained to you before you start the fight. This can prove tricky if you own a Japanese copy and can’t read Japanese. I had trouble figuring out what I had to do on an early mission and had to ask someone who owns an American game what I had to do. In fact a big thank you goes out to, BRIANatRIT on AOL, cheers for that. I only had trouble with the one mission and most people should be able to guess what has to be done on the others.<br><br>The mission mode is huge and just when you think you’ve finished you realize there is a lot more to do. Trading points earned for art, then getting features from the art will keep you hooked for ages and really helps to extend the games life, usually a problem with fighting games. The arcade mode is just as you would expect and there is a Versus mode in there too. All the stats are there for you to look at as well, much the same as in Tekken 3. There really is so much to this game it is a huge task remembering it all.<br><br>This really is a staggering game with so much effort obviously put in to it, you just have to be impressed. This really is the ultimate fighting game. It is easy to get into and very rewarding when you put the time in. The characters are very diverse and there is a favorite in there for everyone. I can’t get over this game. It doesn’t have the complexity and pure skillfulness of VF3, but did you expect it to? But what it does have is an all-out action packed experience that will amaze everyone, it is without a doubt the ultimate two-player experience. As for is it the best fighting game ever, well yes and no but more yes than no. You see if you like depth and precision then you will probably still go back to VF3, but if you like everything else then Soul Calibur is for you. It will be a long time before a game amazes me like this again. Well not a long time, just until Shenmue is released… <br><br>(Images courtesy of ign.com)<br><br></P> <br /> <br /> <br />
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