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Written by  :  Mumm-Ra (410)
Written on  :  May 29, 2003
Platform  :  Dreamcast
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
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A beautiful, complex and realistic fighting game for Dreamcast - probably the best one

The Good

Soul Calibur is undoubtely the best fighting game for Dreamcast and arguably the best game ever released for Dreamcast. This follow-up to Soul Blade/Edge is a really great 3D fighting game and features many improvements.

First, anyone can note the beautifully elaborated graphics. They are really impressive, even for Playstation 2 parameters. Soul Calibur was one of the first games released for Dreamcast and featured the best 3D graphics ever seen on a console. It was patent the power of the console was much greater than Playstation or Nintendo 64. Sega claims Dreamcast can process 3 million polygons per second; if one single game made use of that capacity it was Soul Calibur. The sprites were very detailed and the backgrounds were really great. The level of detail was fantastic: you can see the cold breath of the characters in the snowy stages and rats running behind you. The lighting effects were particularly amazing. Plus, anti-alias smoothed the edges of the graphics, so they were not sharp as in Tekken 3.

As in Tekken series (another one from Namco), the movement of the characters was as natural as it could be. In other words, the animation was incredible. Of course, as characters used weapons in Soul Calibur and some of them were supernatural, there was not so much compromise with reality. But that made the game even funnier.

In comparison, Soul Calibur main competitors in 3D fighting, Virtua Fighter 3 and Dead Or Alive 2, both for Dreamcast, had much less detailed graphics and the animation was not so fluid. In fact, it is unfair to compare any other Dreamcast game to Soul Calibur, as it has the best graphics ever seen on this console.

The sound effects were also very nice, with digitised voices. The music was perfectly adequate and, although not memorable, provided a nice background for the action.

Oh, the action! The best part! The action is fast, very fast. The backgrounds rotate and the zoom comes in and out, giving the impression of a 3D fighting game. Not just the impression. As the characters can walk to all directions, it is a real 3D fighting game.

The controls are adequate for the game. There are two weapon attacks, a kick, a defense and a charge for a special move. OK, the charge could have been substituted for another kick or so, but it doesn't spoil the gameplay. Controls are easy and respond well.

There are lots and lots of different moves to learn. It is really difficult to remember all of them and it requires lots of training to do them all. Someone may complain it is too hard to take full advantage of all the moves, but there is no other way. The gameplay is very complex and that makes the game very funny and realistic. It is much better to have 30 different moves, even if some are very hard to perform, than just two easy ones. You must have in mind Soul Calibur brings fighting games to a new level of reality, just like Tekken does. Gameplay is a great, great experience in this game.

Plus, there are lots of extras. Namco gave much more than players were expecting from the game. The game includes even artwork. Well, let's seen the main ones.

First, as already said, there were lots and lots of moves. You could spend days learning and trying to remember all the moves of a single character.

Second, there are 10 standard characters and 10 hidden ones. Most of the hidden characters are variations of the standard ones, but they have their own personality, as well as own moves. So, there is a total of 20 characters and half of them are discovered as you play the game.

Third, there are hidden stages and hidden variations of the standard stages (a different weather for the same stage, for example). The existence of so many scenarios shows the absurd level of detail this game reaches.

Fourth, there are different game modes. If you are tired of playing the Arcade version of Soul Calibur, you can call a friend to join you in the Versus mode. Or you can opt for Mission mode, for example, to face new challenges.

To sum it up, Soul Calibur was a really well developed fighting game. It has wonderful graphics, sound and gameplay. Even the story is nice (stories are never nice in fighting games). Although easy to play, it is also very complex and is definitely not the kind of game you put aside after playing for a while. It is really worth a try.

The Bad

The game is really nice, but some improvements could be made. Nothing to complain about the graphics, but...

Well, the game is too easy in Arcade mode. The computer doesn't have half the skills it could and the challenge is not so great as it should be. It is also short, as you fight only with 8 characters before the ending.

Some of the hidden stuff is very difficult to reveal and, sometimes, they are not worth it. To finish a mission just to get a new artwork may sound disappointing. And some of the hidden characters are not a big deal, as they are similar to the standard ones.

The Bottom Line

Soul Calibur is undoubtely the best fighting game for Dreamcast. It is worth a try even for those who are not into Street Fighter or similar games, as it provides an incredible gaming experience. Plus, it won't take much of your time, as the action is very fast and the controls doesn't require a long learning (as much of Dreamcast games do). A real pity it was developed exclusively for Dreamcast.