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SoulCalibur II HD Online Review


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On 12/16/2013 at 12:00 PM by Jon Lewis

A Tale of Swords and Souls, Retold.
RECOMMENDATION:

For fans looking to experience Soul Calibur II Online, or those who really loved the original.

I spent a lot of time playing SoulCalibur II on the GameCube during that era. It looked pretty, played well, and featured guest characters that were appealing – especially Link. SoulCalibur II HD Online pays a nice homage to its original port, and it stands up quite well. The fighting remains tight, and the game remains visually pleasing.  Unfortunately, the slim online offering makes this one a tough sell especially if you still own the original.

SoulCalibur II HD Online is very much what you would expect. Every feature and character from the initial release is included. Even guest characters Spawn and Heihachi are included for the first time in the same game. However, Nintendo fans might be upset to know that there isn’t a Wii U version that includes fan favorite Link.

Weapon Master Mode is this game’s big single player offering. In it, you are given tidbits of background and story that lead to battles that usually have some type of stipulation. For example, one battle might require you to guard a certain amount of times in battle, or another will require a ring-out kill. These matches are often frustrating but satisfying upon completion. Those who have endured this mode might groan at the thought of re-doing the more troublesome challenges. That said, the incentive is unlockable weapons and costumes.

One of SoulCalibur II’s more interesting features is the “Extra” battle mode, which allows you to use the more powerful weapons available in Weapon Master Mode. This adds a very fun twist to combat, especially when you unlock the weapons that have unique abilities, like healing.

The HD upgrade is nice, but overall doesn’t do too much to imrove the game, probably because it looked great to begin with. I popped in SoulCalibur II on the GameCube again to compare the two, and visually, the original still looked great. HD definitely has the upper hand in this area, but it’s not enough to warrant buying it just for the graphics.

The other major inclusion here is online play. While serviceable, there is a vast lack of options available. SoulCalibur V had a wealth of options available to the player that are completely absent here. All you have is ranked battle and free battle, and both act as you would expect. Lag is an issue as well, and while it doesn’t destroy the matches, I had many cases of matches freezing on both players’ ends, forcing one of us to quit out of the game and take a loss on our records. 

The optimal way to play, and where the game shines, is in couch competition. Playing against my friends was not only a blast from the past, but it was insanely fun. The fundamentals of the game hold up extremely well, and the game still feels as it should. Some characters do feel a bit overpowered, but I always felt that there was a counter to every move, no matter how devastating. Powerful characters like Astaroth and Nightmare always could be taken on by smaller, more nimble characters like Talim and Taki as long as you use the right techniques. The well-balanced move set is the primary reason why this game holds up after all this time.

The biggest problem for me was that playing SoulCalibur II HD Online just made me want to go back and play my old GameCube copy, where I had everything unlocked and access to my best character – Link. The upgraded visuals didn’t do much for me, and the online is fun for a short time, but it’s not as deep as I would like it to be. Overall, this HD port serves its purpose by bringing this game to current platforms, but does little to keep you interested. That is unless you’re looking for a blast of nostalgia and don’t have your old disc lying around.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Nick DiMola Director

12/16/2013 at 03:21 PM

Wii U HD port and I'm all over this. I'd love to get the full roster all in one version of the game. Come on Namco!

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

12/16/2013 at 03:31 PM

Yeah, same here man. Same here!

Pacario

12/18/2013 at 06:49 PM

Wasn't the character Necrid in this sequel? My friends used to laugh at how overpowered he was--one could just repeatedly press a button to perform all sorts of crazy moves.

SanAndreas

12/29/2013 at 02:54 AM

Like many other people, I would far more readily buy a Wii U remake of this game with Link in it. While SoulCalibur II was a great fighting game in and of itself, it was Link and the great job Namco did with Zelda fanservice that made this game for me, and playing it in any other form just feels severely diminished. I never even tried the PS2 or Xbox versions of this game. Namco should have licensed Cloud, Sephiroth, or Squall for the PS2 version.

Coolsetzer

01/07/2014 at 11:56 AM

Well, this game is still a classic, and deserves any of the praise it gets. It's still a lot of fun. A lot moreso than the last one or two games.

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