SoulCalibur II HD Online Review
Since the original SoulCalibur II hit the scene 10 years ago, gamers have been blessed with three official sequels, dozens of fighting games, and two new brand-new generations of consoles. However, despite these advances in technology, many consider this second entry of Namco Bandai’s weapon-based fighter the definitive version. Now that the remake SoulCalibur II HD Online is available on XBLA and PSN, does the soul still burn?
Those wondering what SoulCalibur II HD Online has over I, III, IV, and V need not look farther than its cavalcade of menus. Arcade and Versus modes are a given, but there are also Team Battles, Survival modes, Galleries and Leaderboards. Many of these are self-explanatory to all fighting game aficionados, but the series-exclusive Weapons Master mode easily steals the show. Battles are still the name of the game, but custom weapons, conditions, and even dungeons spice things up. Fighting a cage-match battle against an invisible warrior forces you to reassess your tactics and improve your game.
It’s just a shame that none of this variety carries over to the games’ Online mode, especially since “online” has been slapped to the title. That’s not to say that the netcode in SoulCalibur II HD Online is bad — matches start in mere seconds and there is little to no lag. Rather, there are next to no options to play around with. Ranked and Player Matches are a given, but there is little else here. None of the team battles, custom weapons, or custom stages from Weapons Master mode are available online, making for a vanilla experience. This is especially odd when one considers how these options are readily available in the offline versus modes.
But enough about the options: does SoulCalibur II HD Online hold up in the gameplay department? It most certainly does. Utilizing a horizontal and vertical slashing system, most matches play around spatial awareness and what weapon your enemy is carrying. A tiny rapier can barely block against a massive ax, while a long pole can easily keep nunchucks at bay. It makes for some interesting matchups, with each character packing a distinct advantage and disadvantage over another. The balance isn’t completely perfect (just check online), but the system is fair enough to encourage variety and experimentation.
It’s safe to say that SoulCalibur II HD Online is the definitive version of the game. Not only does it include all of the previous modes of the previous console releases, it has also polished what is here to a smooth HD shine. While more content would be appreciated, what is here will keep any would-be warriors battling for another 10 years.
SoulCalibur II HD Online is a competent port of an excellent game.