Soulcalibur II hit arcades over ten years ago, and it quickly became a hit, spawning many sequels and spinoffs. All of which failed to live up to the quality of Soulcalibur II in the eyes of many. Fast-forward to present day, and Namco-Bandai saw fit to lease new life on the classic fighter, while adding online play. What player’s get is the same old game, but perhaps the ‘Online’ should have been omitted from the title.
The game plays just like it used to, with no features of the game removed, this is welcome as 2008’s release of Soulcalibur on the Marketplace was a lazy bare-bones experience. Every Single and Versus mode are still there, with Extra Modes for each. For those unfamiliar, game modes include Arcade, Time Attack, Training, and Survival. There is also Team Battle, which is like arcade mode but you play your eight person teams against others, with no cut-scenes or endings. Also returning is Edge Master mode, where you play a story-driven narrative with on screen text to collect weapons, costumes, artwork and videos. The extra modes are modes that unlock through gameplay, and let you use the alternate weapons collected in Edge Master.
Gameplay in Soulcalibur II is much simpler than later incarnations of the series, with none of that Super Move or Armor shattering fluff. It’s all about knowing whether or not to use horizontal or vertical attacks, grabs, when and where to guard. You can also charge up power for stronger attacks. Also you can parry attacks with a guard performing just before a strike. This allows quick-acting players to do attack them in their stunned state. But you can also perform Guard Crush attacks to break a guard. Attacks can also clash against one another for some added flair.
As the title suggests there is an Online mode. However, the ‘Online’ from the title is somewhat limited. While there are ranked and quick matches, there is no real lobby features. Once a battle is completed, you are dumped right back into main menu. There also aren’t any tournament modes, and the netcode is somewhat middling, with most matches being a fair bit laggy. One wonders if the community for the game will be great, and I guess not even Namco was terribly confident in it. And even though the graphics of the game still hold up pretty well, the HD doesn’t really do much to improve the look. Also since this title was based on the ps2 and Xbox versions of the original title and lacks a Wii U port, the third console exclusive character of Link is not included. At least the other two, Heihachi from Tekken and Spawn are on both XBLA and PSN. But overall, if you want a solid fighter just to play with friends, you can’t go wrong with Soulcalibur II HD Online. Just remember that Online is kind of disappointing.