Soul Calibur - Sega Dreamcast - Namco - Fighting - 1-2 Players

Soul Calibur.jpg (28739 bytes)

     Graphics: *****

     Sound: ****

     Control: *****

     Gameplay: *****

     Replay Value: *****

     Overall Rating: *****

            To be honest, based on Sega's last few forays into the game market (Sega CD, Game Gear, 32X and Saturn) and how I got burned with them, I was going to wait a few months before buying the first 4th gen system, namely the Sega Dreamcast. The announcement of Soul Calibur changed all that, as a rabid Soul Blade fan, the opportunity to get my hands on the sequel was too good to pass up. I went down to my local game store, coughed up $20 bucks to pre-order Dreamcast and Soul Calibur and left hoping for the best. In the time leading up to September 9th, Soul Calibur became the most anticipated launch title for Sega's fledgling system and the question arose - Would Soul Calibur live up to the hype? The ball was in Namco's court and all eyes were watching. 

            Having played Soul Calibur for the last 2 months I can honestly say there was no hype surrounding this title. It was (and is) everything promised. Not only did Namco bring Soul Calibur home, they made so many improvements that they are releasing the Dreamcast version in the arcades as an enhanced Soul Calibur. What makes this game so successful? Let's take a look.

            Two months into the Dreamcast, Soul Calibur is still by far the best looking game. To say the graphics are the best seen on any home system are doing this game a disservice. The backgrounds are beautiful to look at, the characters are incredibly lifelike (their facial expressions even change when they speak!) and are animated to perfection. Everything about Soul Calibur's visuals speak excellence. The small touches like lighting, reflections, shadows and wind effects are done so well you almost think you're watching a movie.

            If  the way the game looks wasn't enough to grant it instant success, Soul Calibur's sound effects were given equal treatment. The sound effects are clear and effective in adding to the realism,  and the soundtrack (while not as good as Soul Blade) moves the game along and never becomes repetitive or irritating with frequent replay. The only thing keeping the Soul Calibur from getting five stars in this category is the fact that Namco neglected to record voice overs in English. A small gripe, but an omission none the less.

            Namco wisely chose to support both the Analog stick and the standard digital pad, giving the player the ability to choose what works best for them. The controls work as well as can be expected on the standard Dreamcast pad and can be adjusted to match individual preferences. Once again, the pads triggers do not feel natural and take some getting used to.      

            The game plays as good (if not better) than any other fighter I've played yet and will set the standard for Dreamcast fighters for some time to come. The game offers multiple difficulty modes to offer challenge to players of all skill levels, and 2 player combat is easily as addictive as every other Namco fighter. 

            In keeping the game fresh, Namco added so many hidden characters, modes and challenges to the game that it will take come time to open them all. Modes such as Mission Mode, Time Battle, Survival, Sudden Death, Practice Mode, Team battle and Museum mode give the player a lot to look forward to. Even when you open all these modes, you'll find yourself coming back to this title constantly.

            To sum it up, Soul Calibur is a must own title for Dreamcast owners. Attractive enough to infatuate casual gamers, deep enough to satisfy hardcore gamers Soul Calibur has something for everyone. Namco should be applauded for the incredible conversion they gave us. They took all the fighting goodness of Soul Blade and somehow improved on it. As I said in the opening, there was no hype surrounding Soul Calibur - the game is just that good. If you have a Dreamcast, you’d be an idiot not to have it, and if you don’t have a Dreamcast, this game is worth purchasing one.

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