The legend will never die – and apparently it has not. Soul Calibur, a weapons based 3D fighter from Namco, first appeared in the Arcade in 1998, then later on the Dreamcast in Japan way back in 1999, yet despite being one of the biggest sellers on the system, it wasn’t enough to prevent the DC’s premature death.
The great news is, Soul Calibur has had a make-over and it wasn’t a bad looking game to start with. The hi-res visuals make for wonderful eye-candy, as beautiful blue weapon trails arc across the screen at a consistently high frame rate, the luscious background and fighting arenas oozes quality. Perhaps it’s not so remarkable compared to some of today’s graphical wonders, but it’s still as pretty as Kylie Minogue’s bum.
There are several different modes available, from the 8 round Arcade Mode, VS, Time Attack, Team Battle and onto Survival. Disappointingly, the mission based quest mode, in which the player earns points to spend on unlockables, is missing and this is a real blow to the replayability of the game. Instead, all content is available from the beginning, including the character art work, additional costumes, Lizard Man, Edge Master and Inferno.
There are a couple of other niggles too; there is no online play, the opening sequence from the Dreamcast version of the game is sadly missing and there is no support for widescreen, so like many other XBLA titles, the screen edges are adjourned with fancy (and ugly) borders instead. This really isn’t down to the fault of Namco though, the 150 MB XBLA limit at the time the game was being ported, meant a number of features didn’t make it in.
Whatever your choice of weapon might be, from Mitsurugi with his Katana to Kilik who’s pretty handy with a Bo Staff, Soul Calibur plays sublimely, and it’s a game that’s immediately accessible, even to a fighting novice. After a rest for close to ten years, character movement is fast and flowing, responding quickly to pad inputs, allowing for juggling combos to be setup with ease. The very basics of combat involve three different moves: horizontal and vertical attacks, and the ability to kick, but as a player gains more practice with a character, these turn into some very powerful and visually impressive moves. Even the 360’s controller works well, though the d-pad feels a little lacking in precision, but team Soul Calibur up with a couple of arcade sticks, and you’ll be in gaming heaven.
Despite the lack of mission mode, Soul Calibur still represents a good purchase for 800 of Microsoft’s points. Soul Calibur has always played well, from novice button mashers to in-depth strategy seasoned weapon masters; it’s one of the greatest fighters to grace the digital screen.