SoulCalibur II HD Online (Available on PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Project Soul
Release Date: November 19th, 2013
Parent Talk: SoulCalibur II HD Online is rated T for teen because of violence, suggestive themes, and mild language. One look at Taki and you’ll understand why the game’s rated T. She’s wearing a skin tight spandex outfit with no bra. Yup, 13-year old men made this game. Seriously though, it’s rated T because of some of the skimpy outfits, and also because it’s a weapon-based fighter, but there’s no blood or anything like that.
Plays Like: This complex weapon-based fighter is the follow-up to the Dreamcast launch title, SoulCalibur. Prior to this naming convention the series was known as Soul Edge, and wasn’t anywhere near as popular. The game features a killer single-player story mode, as well as the usual assortment of arcade and versus modes. New to this HD remastered version is a competitive online multiplayer mode, but the game retains the same excellent gameplay from the 2003 version.
Review Basis: Namco Bandai sent us a PSN review code, and having played the living hell out of this game upon its initial release in 2003, I simply went through the motions of testing the single player portion, and then headed online and proceeded to get my butt handed to me several times over.
An all-around fantastic remaster. Textures are crisper than ever before, character models look extremely detailed, and to be perfectly honest, if it weren’t for hair physics being improved so much during the PS3/360 era I’m sure a lot of people would have assumed the game was made for those consoles. That’s how much care and attention went into this port. Level design and overall graphic quality has always been one of the strong points of the series, and it’s amazing how well the overall look of the game holds up some ten years after its original release. It’s pretty damn impressive, and when you see it in motion it makes you wonder why more companies don’t invest in HD remakes like this. The audio is equally impressive as the soundtrack and audio effects have all been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sound wonderful.
+ All the superb gameplay modes you remember from the original make their way back. Arcade, versus, training, team battle, time attack, and the phenomenal Weapon Master mode all return. Weapon Master Mode is where you spend the majority of your time in single player and features what would equate to a deep story mode in a modern fighter. You select your character and tackle various objective-based missions. Sometimes it’s beat three characters, sometimes it’s complete a round without blocking, and so on. As you progress you earn points which can then be used to unlock a wide assortment of goodies from additional characters and weapons to costume colors.
+ Gameplay remains as tight as ever. Not much else to say about it.
+ Great touch adding Spawn and Heihachi to the mix, but it would have been great to see Link make an appearance. Obviously that was never going to happen, and no one should have expected it, but it would have made a killer Wii U exclusive had they made a version of the game for that platform.
+/- I appreciate the inclusion of an online mode for die-hard fighting fans, but it’s about as barebones as you can imagine. Featuring only a Ranked and Player match mode, there’s really not much to see. Player match is far too basic to be useful, as if you create a private match, or even a public one, as soon as the fight is over with you are kicked out and placed back on the menu screen. You can’t create a fight list and slowly work your way through it facing multiple friends, one after another. There’s also no spectator mode allowing you to watch other fights. As I said, it’s extremely basic, but at least there’s a way to play online.
+/- Speaking of online play, fighters live and die based on their net code and it’s kind of lukewarm in SC II HD Online. All the online matches I played featured input lag, making parrying impossible, and blocking a real pain. If you’re a casual fan the input lag won’t likely be bothersome, but to the hardcore it could be a deal-breaker.
SoulCalibur II HD Online is a fantastic game for those who loved the original, or are just looking into getting into the series. While I wish the online mode was improved, the core gameplay and overall package remains highly impressive. If you’re into fighting games, this is certainly one to check out for $20.
Final Score: 8/10