Soul Calibur III PlayStation 2
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Namco
Release Date: Out Now
Soul Calibur 3, an introduction.
Although the SEGA Dreamcast had a fairly short existence it was the home of several great games, the like of which hadn't appeared on any other console. One of these great games was Soul Calibur from Namco. Soul Calibur is a weapon based combat game that's always been known for its excellent combat system and many still regard the Dreamcast version of Soul Calibur as one of the finest fighting games to date. Soul Calibur II was a multi-format title arriving on Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube with each version having its own special character. Soul Calibur III however, is a PlayStation 2 exclusive.
What's the game about?
Soul Calibur III offers more modes, more fighters and more options. There are single-player and VS modes on offer. The single-player modes are Tales of Souls, Chronicles of the Sword, World Competition, Soul Arena and Practice. There is also a Museum mode where you can view all the items you've unlocked. Tales of Souls is a short story mode for each of the characters in the game. Chronicles of the Sword is essentially a simplified RTS style mode. World Competition is where you can try to become the best fighter in the world (against the AI). Finally Soul Arena is where you'll take part in various arena battles. The VS modes are VS Standard and VS Competition. VS Standard is a quick VS battle whilst VS Competition is a versus battle comprised of various tournaments. There are 3 new characters to plays as, Zasalamel, Tira and Setsuka. There is now a character creator mode that allows you to create up to 3 characters (male or female) and there is a fair amount of customisation that can be made.
What's good about the game?
The highlight of the game for me is the Soul Arena mode where you can take your custom characters and have a crack at the various missions on offer. Whilst 36 missions (12 for each of the 3 difficulty levels) all involve battles there is a good variety of objectives to complete. The original characters that return for the game have had a few new moves and weapons added, which adds a little variation to the Soul Calibur experience. The game boasts a great collection of fighters and even offers plenty of fighters right out of the box without having to unlock any which is refreshing to see. The combat is the star of the game. It's not really that different from previous Soul Calibur games but even so it's still one of the best games the genre has to offer as it's still as entertaining and challenging (the AI is certainly no push over) as it ever was.
What's not so good about the game?
The biggest disappointment with Soul Calibur III is that there is no online play. Whilst this is very disappointing, it is to some degree understandable given the general lack of a quality online experience on the PlayStation 2. With this game being a PlayStation 2 exclusive, it wouldn't have made much sense considering online play as a serious option. Those who have enjoyed the previous Soul Calibur titles will find that despite the new modes, abilities and fighters, the game isn't all that different when it comes down to the basics. This will disappoint those who were expecting the combat to evolve rather than simply be more of the same. The new modes, Tales of the Sword and Chronicles of the Sword are great to see and they are mildly engaging but when the novelty wears off, it's not likely you'll bother with them much. It's also worth mentioning that if you use an unofficial memory card such as the MAX Memory cards you should beware of data corrupting. This happened to me with the aforementioned memory card but hasn't happened yet whilst using the official Sony memory card.
How does it look?
Soul Calibur III looks fantastic and proves that the PlayStation 2 still has plenty of life left in it and also that the games can look great when developed by developers such as Namco who know how to get the most out of the system. The battle arenas certainly look good too. There isn't any blood in the battles (which I'm personally pleased about) but if you do like your combat to come with a bit of gore, it may prove to be a disappointment. The game supports both 60Hz and widescreen mode. The frame rate is excellent and never dips in the slightest, meaning that your battles are as smooth as can be.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Deaf gamers won't have any problems with Soul Calibur III. Subtitles are included and as a result deaf gamers will be able to fully enjoy the game. The only items of speech that are not subtitled are the announcer comments. All important dialogue, objectives and narrative is shown in text. This means you'll be able to enjoy the Tales of Souls story mode and Chronicles of the Sword and follow the story lines as these modes play out. All tutorial messages are shown in text too, so you won't have any problems in learning the game.
Soul Calibur III isn't anything revolutionary and it certainly isn't really much of an improvement over Soul Calibur II. This doesn't stop it being a great game though and fans of fighting games should definitely put this down as a must own. That said though it's a shame the new modes aren't really anything special. The RTS-like Chronicles of the Sword mode doesn't really work and becomes monotonous far too quickly. The Tales of the Sword story mode fares a little better but it's not really a must have feature. Overall though, it's still a great experience and well worth a place in anyone's PlayStation 2 software collection.
Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10
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Soul Calibur III doesn't represent a marked improvement over Soul Calibur II but it's still a great game that's well worth owning.