Name: Soul Calibur (89.23% in 13 votes)
Release date: 1999
Reviewed by: KurenaiJiku
This is probably the most widely accepted Dreamcast game ever to be produced. It won numerous awards for graphical superiority, game dyanmics, features, depth, sound, music, everything you can probably think of. It is the game to get for Dreamcast if you have one. I can tell you that all that hype and media is simply evidence for what type of game this actually is. If you're a fighting game fan, you're going to love this game. If you're a martial artist, you're going to love this game, if you're either or even both, you're going to really love this game.
Soul Calibur is a perfect blend of martial arts, various fighting styles, and arcade antics. I'm not kidding, this game is perfect in everyway and cannot be seen as a poorly done game. I must say, this one is up there with my all time favorite game saga; Virtual On. It has dramatic history-type music, a lot of unique and believable characters (well sort of), beautiful environments to fight in, tons of features (o tons of features...), an insanely deep combo system, and much more. I don't think Namco could have stuffed this much in a game; well the Dreamcast does have a 1 gigabyte CD drive so it kinda is...but still!
In the game, there are numerous features you start out with; I emphasize "start out with", because as you progress through the mission battle option, you will unlock many more features. You start with 12 characters to choose from (if I remember correctly), and after you unlock all the features you have a total of 24. That's a number seldom seen in 3D fighters, and I think the only game that will top number of characters will be the upcoming Marvel VS Capcom 2 with 52 characters. There's your standard arcade, versus, and practice modes. However, there's a mission mode which tests your skills at Soul Calibur. Each stage in this mode examines each skill that you have and tests it to the full limits. You'll have to fight with set parameters during each mission fight. For example, there's a battle where you're poisoned (life draining) and in order to stop your life from draining, you will have to hit your opponent. Your opponent will then be poisoned instead; it's much like tag. It's a fairly well done training mode in disguise. If you're able to go through this mode, then you'll be a better player against your friends in versus mode.
Mission battle mode is where you'll unlock many of the extras which enhance the replayability of the game. Many characters will have 3rd model appearances which you can select at the character selection screen. You'll also be able to select weapons with different looks for each character, play in different stages of various weather effects like rain or snow. Most of the things will be unlocked in the "museum" mode; this is where all the fun extras are. Features like the ability to view each character's profile; descriptions of their weapons and life history, their stages, and view their faces close up. (this is where I usually gawk at how beautiful Sophitia is) In the museum mode, there is also a battle simulator which allows you to watch two computers go at it. It also includes a mode which displays each of the characters performing their fighting styles ala solo/martial arts demonstration. There's even a mode which allows you to change the intro at will. It's funny how I placed the gothic and frightening character; Nightmare, in place of Sophitia. It now shows Nightmare in a field of grass, getting up, and then brushing his hair aside. (like how girls do, but it looks stupid 'cause Nightmare doesn't have hair and he isn't feminine at all) How you unlock these extra features is through a point and gallery system. The more battles you win in the mission battle, the more points you get. The more points you get, the more pictures you can unlock in the Soul Calibur gallery. The more pictures you unlock in the gallery, the more features will also be unlocked. So it's like a 2 for 1 type of thing; get pictures, but also get cool stuff as well. One thing to keep in mind is that all the pictures are very, very cool as there is fan art, concept art, rendered images, 2D art, and many more. I suggest getting a VGA box or adapter for your Dreamcast; because for one thing, the game will look a lot better, and you can view all the images without the TV interlace lines. (meaning less blurrier images)
Each character is modelled and textured insanely well in fully motion captured form. Movement is where the game really shines; apparently Namco programmed the game so that from each motion captured set motion, the characters will move to each next move in accordance to the last move. It's difficult to explain, but if you play the game you'll know what I mean when I say "flow". Clothing does wave in the wind and by movement, hair does flow (well more like shake but it's good enough for me), chests do bounce (not like Dead or Alive kinda thing), and anything that is supposed to move in accordance to physics will do so. Pyrotechnics are done extremely well and although somewhat low res (if your eyes are quick enough which I doubt) you won't see any faults at all. They look high res due to the speed everything moves at; a blazing 60 fps no less. Shadows lay on objects properly like their supposed to, and changed according to light sources. (well sorta) Environmental light sources do change dynamically during each stage; mostly everytime a character does a super move. Scenary is half 3D and half 2D. However, all 2D art in the background is pre-rendered while all the rest is realtime. However, even by the trained eye, one can't notice the different. In fact, the 2D backgrounds simply look like far away objects due to the slight blurring relative to the back-foreground.
Sound and music is equally as good. Sound is breath taking as the characters scream out Japanese phrases while performing their various moves. You really have to hear it for yourself. As for music, it fits all dramatic instances beautifully. Anything that makes a peep is high quality and show no sign of low frequency samples.
I truly enjoyed the amount of accuracy which the various fighting styles reflect; not too much, but just enough to maintain balance between an arcade fighter and a simulator. Soul Calibur is definitely just one of those games which you may not notice till you pick it up. When you do pick it up, be sure you set aside much time as this game can keep you up at night while your parents or girlfriend screams to get you off your Dreamcast. If you aren't a fan of gameplay, this game is definitely more eye candy than any Final Fantasy game.
Graphics (technical) - 5/5
Graphics (creative) - 5/5
Sound (technical) - 5/5
Sound (creative) - 5/5
Technical Gameplay - 5/5
Fun Factor - 5/5
Diversity of Features - 5/5
Story - 3/5
Overall Value - 5/5
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