'SoulCalibur II HD Online'
Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)
ESRB rating: Teen
Review rating: 3.5 stars
I loved playing "SoulCalibur II" when it was released ten years ago. Not only was it fast and furious, but it was one of the first fighting games to offer the use of a wide variety of deadly weapons. Unfortunately, it didn't offer online game play. Fast forward to the present, and "SoulCalibur II HD Online" finally lets players decimate each other online.
It's just too bad that online play and improved visuals are the only real additions to the series (the name says it all). Well, that and the fact that the previously console-exclusive characters, Heihachi (from Tekken) and Spawn (from comics), are now playable on both systems.
Fortunately, these additions are done very well. For starters, players can undertake both ranked and unranked matches against opponents from around the world. The netcode seems to be pretty solid, and only time will tell if a solid community of worldwide players will develop.
As for improved visuals, they've been upgraded to 1080p and offer noticeably greater detail. Instead of simply stretching the image to fit the widescreen aspect ratio, additional lines of code have been added to avoid distorting the imagery.
Thankfully, the original game play and awesome single-player modes have been retained. It's really fun to relive the good ol' days of fighting games where quick reflexes are more important than remembering lengthy combos. I also enjoy sidestepping rival pugilists to sneak in a side or rear attack. This game helped introduce the "easy to learn yet hard to master" moniker that quickly became overused.
"SoulCalibur II HD Online" isn't revolutionary, but it will surely satisfy fighting fans eager to relive the nostalgia of the PS2.