Soul Calibur III
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2005-12-01 PS2 Fighting T (Teen) Namco / Ingram Entertainment

Six years ago, Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast changed my mind about 3D fighters. It was my first and it is my only exception to this genre. The characters, the sceneries, the moves, everything was so beautiful it was breathtaking.

My experience with Soul Calibur II came from playing it on an arcade last year. Although I didn't beat it (Inferno and the moving flames were disorienting to the point of making me nauseous), I gained a small audience behind me which I only found when I finally ran out of credits and turned around to leave. Aside from the spooky feeling of being watched by 8 people, the game brought back the same immersive feeling of being in awe with every bit of graphic detail and character movements while I played.

When I'm starting to think that a perfect game can't get any better, here is Soul Calibur III to prove me wrong. Exclusive to the PS2, it is still the same eye-candy parade, making me wonder why can't all other PS2 games look this crisp. It certainly has the best graphics I have ever seen for this system.

Soul Calibur III introduces three new characters to the roster of Tales of Souls: Setsuka (a geisha who fights with umbrellas), Tira (a complete nutcase who uses blade rings) and Zasalamel (a Grim Reaper wannabe with a scythe).

Several new game modes have been introduced, which greatly add to the replay value.

In Tales of Souls you follow a character's adventure in search of Soul Edge. You even get multiple choices and encounter different characters in gorgeous and exotic locations. There are also a few mini-events where you have to press a certain button at a certain time to prevent your character to be damaged, or you'll move on to the fight with some health missing. Completing it with any character gives you a sum of Gold to spend in the stores, and you will also unlock characters, weapons and other goodies.

In Practice mode, you can learn the basics by going through the tutorial, learn the SC lingo and try out some moves.

Chronicles of the Sword allows you to use your own original character to play a game that combines real time strategy in map battles and exploration with some RPG elements (gaining experience points and leveling up) and Soucalibur fighting. However, it does place you in certain impossible situations, for example on level 8 fighting level 27 characters, or crossing paths with Ivy, who just so happens to be level 60. How unfair.

Soul Arena offers you a challenging Mission mode where you will be given tasks (such as smashing your opponent into a wall or defeating a Colossus statue while dodging its attacks) and a Quick Play mode, where you go through a series of 8 battles.

World Competition is a challenging feature where you can participate in a Tournament or League matches. There are also the Versus Modes, which give you the chance to play against a friend or the CPU in standard or competition matches.

In the Museum you can see everything from intro or event movies, artwork and character profiles, and you can even view CPU vs, CPU battles (must buy it from items shop).

There are also three shops where you can purchase items (like artwork, new game modes and extra custom character slots), weapons (for existing and original characters) and armor (to use in character creation).

Character Creation is probably the most appealing feature in the game. You can pick the sex of your character, the fighting style from an initial 4 disciplines (I haven't unlocked any others yet, but I assume there are more) and then everything from each little piece of armor on the body to face and hair styles. You can customize the colors for each part as well, making the options pretty much unlimited. Many of these can be bought in the armor shop, but others are unlockable through story progression in Tales of Souls. It's really amazing to see how much you can do with Character Creation, you can even customize an entire cast for Chronicles of the Sword or alter the colors of the outfits for the existing characters.

I've been using Seung Mina as my playing character all these years (by the way, I wonder why her name is spelled different in this title) and I'll probably still be using her until I unlock a halberd or staff wielding discipline for the character creation mode. At least I can kick some ass with her, while I get my ass kicked if using pretty much anyone else.

The game is quite challenging and I find it the most difficult of all three Soul Calibur titles. It's obvious after a while that no matter who you pick to fight as, your clone will always be faster and hit at least twice as hard than you do. It can get quite frustrating at times, especially when Zasalamel insists on doing the same spinning trick six times in a row.

Soul Calibur III is the ultimate 3D fighting experience, offering content up the wazoo to keep everyone coming back for more. It's a shame it doesn't have online play, it would have been perfect for the World Competition mode. Other than that, I can honestly say that this game didn't disappoint me one bit.

Special thanks to Kit Ellis and Namco for providing a copy of this title.