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 The Final Word game review

Soul Calibur -- Namco

Absolutely the best 3-D fighter on the market today, and without a doubt the best one for the Dreamcast. If you are a fan of Namco fighting games, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. Heck, if you just like fighting games then this one is the benchmark to hold others against... graphics, music, animation, everything about this game is stunning. With the addition of a joystick, it's arcade all the way. I would even take this over the future release of Tekken Tag, even if Tekken were to look better since I prefer weapon fighting over fists.

As a sequel to Soul Blade, this game makes a compelling reason to trade in one of those broken PlayStations you have laying around for a Dreamcast ...that is, if you don't already own one. The only thing this game didn't carry over is the weapon damage feature, which I can go either way on.

The absolute clincher for me though on this title was the appearance of Yoshimitsu as a playable character in this game. While I like Tekken, it wasn't the end all for me. Without a doubt, Yoshimitsu was my favorite character and I was really happy to see that not only was he in this game, but he still had pretty much all of the moves I liked to use in Tekken.

Let's see other cool stuff about this game... well, did I mention the graphics? This game puts most coin-ops to shame and really, for me, it makes going to an arcade to play a fighting game kind of pointless. The graphics in this game were amazing, everything from the subtle jiggle in Ivy's chest as she stands to attention, to what appears as ripple in the various characters' muscles. Wow... I just could go on. I was blown away. The curves of the characters bodies was amazing. There were none of the hard edges or jagged points on any of the characters bodies that are pretty much staple to previous 3-D fighting games.

If anything, I had only one beef about this game, and that was the poor and tired use (or should I say abuse) of "tuning" the AI during play so that if you're doing exceptionally well, the computer goes out of it's way to kick your ass down. And, if you're doing particularly crappy, the game will give you an easy win. While this helps make the game the same for everyone from the brain dead stoner down the street to the high-dexterity twitch freak across town, I really hate getting to the prescribed level in a fighting game (3, 7, or 9, and sometimes all three depending on the game) and no matter how good I was doing, I get my ass crushed by one AI move (more so, it's often a move that isn't available to the player if they get the boss as a playable character). Or worse yet, I walk through a game and get to the last boss whose skill level is totally out of touch with the gradient of the other enemies in the game (the original Japanese release of Toh Shin Din comes to mind here. I stomped through the game and then gave up after beating my head for four hours against GAIA. Or more recently, SNK vs. Capcom for the Neo-Geo Pocket color... In Team mode, I walked through this game and even took care of Bison and Geese with no problem, but hours, days, weeks later, I still have yet to beat Orochi Iori... I'm getting closer though!).

Maybe game developers think they're being all cool and sneaky by using "tuning" in their games, but I've yet to see hardly any games that actually use the idea to give a fair and even game. Instead, they use it to let the enemy pull off what seems to be cheap or "cheat" moves to put you down when you're playing "to good"... In Soul Calibur this is handled even worse in the "Mission" mode where it became pretty clear that your success/failure in the game is tied to either your win/loss ratios, or shear number of times played, and not to any actual skill on the players part. This was so frustrating that once everyone here completely solved the game it got put back on the shelf where it's now collecting dust.

Grrr... sorry to rant like that, this is a real pet peeve for me and everyone else I know who plays fighting games. Aside from this though, the game really rocks and has tons and tons of cool stuff to unlock if you make a point to solve every aspect of the game.

All in all though, don't miss this one!

>>>>> 24.0/25 <<<<< R.I.P.
Graphics 5.0
Sound 5.0
Gameplay/Control 5.0
Longevity/Playability 4.5
Overall 4.5
Total 24.0