There were things about Soul Calibur 2 that I found incredibly annoying leading up to this point, but this is the point where those irritations snowball into full-blown hatred. I gave this game a chance, and in the process of doing so confirmed my suspicions that it can’t hold a candle to the first game. To sum up my problems with this piece of garbage, the gimmicks become so much worse and quickly turn unfair (sometimes not even telling you what to expect from the upcoming fight), and jumping back into a stage after being cheated out of a win takes just long enough to exacerbate the sense that your time is being intentionally wasted. This isn’t good enough.
I’m dual-wielding Seong Mi-na and Xianghua
Of course, all of my complaints are centered around the weapon master mode, but that’s effectively what Soul Calibur 2 is. It’s in this mode that you unlock characters, stages, modes, and equipment, and it even has a tacked-on story attached. The arcade mode doesn’t unlock anything beyond character bios, so it’s difficult to consider it anything more than an afterthought. Anyway, I finally switched to Seong Mi-na right at the start of the video above, and this made several stages less frustrating. Especially since the very first stage I tackled with her was “strewn with landmines” and the first person who gets knocked down automatically loses.
The thing I’m beginning to notice, however, is that you’re best served switching between certain characters for certain stages, and it wasn’t long before I hit a stage with a bunch of back-to-back fights (that have to be won while your health depletes over time) that was better suited to Xianghua. Not because she’s a better fighter, but because these gimmicky stages are best cheesed through, relying on one or two strong moves to quickly carve through them. Winning isn’t a matter of skill or preparation a lot of the time, with leaning on a single strong move being the ideal way of getting past the random difficulty spikes of poorly designed gimmicks.
Anyway, I finished all of the stages in that last video, thinking that I was finally done. Then the game pointed and laughed as it turned all of the stages back to their red “unfinished” state and jacked up the difficulty, daring me to do it all again. The gimmicks here are worse than ever, at one point turning Seong Mi-na (who I eventually switched back to) into Lizardman for the stage. Thing is, I don’t know any of Lizardman’s moves. This is the kind of “difficulty” that Soul Calibur 2 is all about.
And hey, double standards
Remember the first stage in the first video where the ground is covered in landmines and whoever knocks the other character down first wins? Well, the second time around is where it became obvious that the game was going to up the difficulty with cheap tricks. Once you finish weapon master mode on its default setting, stages like this have to be repeated, only this time, enemies aren’t defeated by being knocked down. That means the only way to win is to knock out (or get a ring out) your opponent without getting knocked down a single time. And believe it or not, stages get even more unfair than this later on. The whole thing becomes a giant grind, and doubly so since I’ve been playing through both the original and HD version. Ugh.
I even found a bug
These games are usually pretty solid technically, but I managed to recreate this bug both on the original PS2 version and the HD remaster (though I wasn’t recording when it happened there, sadly). Basically, some stages have gimmicky earthquakes every few seconds, and every so often a permanent earthquake will occur once you beat the stage. I’ve had this happen rarely on stages without earthquakes, though, and while I haven’t figured out the specifics of what causes it, it’s stunning that no effort was put into fixing it in the 8 years between the original and HD release.