Nothing screams nostalgia like a HD remake. I have many a fond memory of Soul Calibur 2, like many others. The flashes of just impacts and flaming unblockables still shine bright in the old memory box. It was a fantastic game when it came out and Namco Bandai have polished off all the old cobwebs and added online features to arguably the best game in the series. Two of the consoles’ unique characters are present, reducing the need to squabble over which version was superior (almost).
It has been just over 10 years since Soul Calibur 2 first came to home consoles, doesn’t that make you feel old? Originally released with a unique character to each console; Spawn for Xbox, Heihachi for PlayStation and Link for Gamecube. Now it’s a decade later and Namco Bandai have brought a breath of life to the best in the series.
Namco Bandai set the bar high with the Soul Calibur series, especially with the weapon master modes present in both 2 and 3, they became a much sought after addition and very few have managed to replicate them since. It’s great to see all manner of ways to fight your opponent with the “extra” battles which allow a choice of character and weapon as well as the plethora of options available to play by yourself. Soul Calibur is one of the very few fighting games whose freshness lasts even when playing alone and rightfully so. There is just so much to do, buy, unlock and test out, I know I have spent plenty of time making sure I got every weapon in Spawn and Kilik’s arsenal, with extra costumes to boot, just in case.
One major let down for the game is the lack of online lobbies, a staple of modern day online exclusives, and given that the online was such an important inclusion it made it into the title of the game I expected a bit more. Four bar connections with Americans and even some Europeans may as well have been played underwater with a slow response time and very little in the way of eliminating these fluctuating connection matches from the mix that I hastily gave up and swore not to return, at least until there’s a patch or more friends get the game. The task of constantly backing out and setting up matches after one fight without so much as a rematch option did bug me to the point that I barely played 10 matches online before growing tired. It’s a real shame that this was overlooked and hopefully there is an easy fix.
Soul Calibur 2 has a great roster, there are characters from both the Tekken series and obviously the SC series but SC2 also boasts two of Todd McFarlane’s creations, Spawn and Necrid; alongside Heiachi making this the first competitive version of the game to include both characters. With all the new textures and polish, the whole cast has a new shine that was never there and a smoother outline to their once jagged edges. The game as a whole looks greater but I believe it’s in the characters’ design where you truly learn to appreciate the update. They have even left in Taki’s glaringly odd nipples too, take that DOA!
Being arguably the greatest fighting game made for both the casual and hardcore scene, Soul Calibur 2 has left a lasting imprint of what we expect from fighting games and it’s great to see it in a new light. There are a few niggles and issues I still have, like the lack of online modes and my inability to fight both Astaroth and Nightmare but I have fallen in love all over again. I urge you to buy such a gem, even if it is to rekindle a few hours of nostalgia and once again climb the ranks of the Weapon Master mode. It’s all worth it. Every last penny.