Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Soulcalibur 2 HD Online

Review: Soulcalibur II HD Online

12:00 PM on 11.26.2013 // Wesley Ruscher

A soul reborn

Transcending more than just history, Soulcalibur II was the envy of every arcade-to-home conversion back in 2003. A feature-rich fighter, Namco’s weapon-based brawler exemplified perfection with deep mechanics, memorable characters, stunning visuals, and robust modes. 

Additionally, its console iterations included console specific guest characters: The Legend of Zelda’s Link on GameCube; comic book icon Spawn on Xbox; and from Namco’s other 3D fighter Tekken, Heihachi Mishima on the PS2. It was unprecedented at the time, so much so that it caused quite a commotion amongst fanboys as they clamored which system had it best.

But how do you improve a game that already borders on perfection? Is it even humanly possible? Can the jump to HD and the inclusion of online instill the same passion in fans that fueled Soulcalibur II all those years ago? To me, these are the questions Namco and the team at Project Soul were faced with when they announced Soulcalibur II HD Online for XBLA and PSN earlier this year -- an update to a game that set the gold standard for the series.

Well, the short answer…a half-hearted “kind of.”

Soulcalibur II HD Online (PSN, XBLA [reviewed])
Developer: Project Soul
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Release Date: November 20, 2013
MSRP: $19.99

Soulcalibur II HD Online is visually breathtaking. It’s so impressive that a newcomer might not know this is actually a high definition update to a nearly 10-year-old game. In fact, I had to go grab my copy of Soulcalibur V just to remember how far we've come in the graphics department since the original.

From the lighting to the textures that permeate each arena, this is how an HD update should be handled. Everything, aside from some last, last-gen hair physics, holds up and looks fantastic. The Soulcalibur series has always radiated a sense of beauty -- from the outlandishly ornate costumes, down to its buxom and chiseled fighters -- but this HD remake is a true testament to the game’s art style, as rarely do polygonal based games of this age hold up so well.

Unfortunately, the other addition to the remake’s title, “online,” leaves much to be desired. For starters, Soulcalibur II HD Online’s online mode is about as minimal as it gets, offering a mere two modes: ranked and player match. Ranked mode is typical to the genre, allowing players to duke it out in attempts to improve their overall online rankings.

Player match, on the other hand -- a mode for casual fights -- is severely lacking some rudimentary features found in most fighters. There are no lobbies to join and no spectator mode to watch; it just drops you into a fight then boots you straight back to the main menu once it’s over. If you want to spend a long night fighting with a friend online, be ready to have to constantly recreate private matches and then invite them again over and over. Worse, without lobbies, there is no way to have multiple friends queued up for an endless night of fun.

I’m not sure what the logic was for omitting simple lobbies from the online mode, but it’s a huge misstep. Soulcalibur II’s heart lies not just in its competitive nature, but also in its ability to create a fun nights with friends. To not be able to share the same experience online with friends, in this day and age, is a tragedy.

These exclusions are even more unfortunate as the online gameplay itself isn't very good. There is a ton of input lag that is highly noticeable for competitive players. Sure, it might only be milliseconds, but that can make all the difference in executing a successful parry, block, or combo string. My time in rank matches bordered on frustration as I constantly fell to the slew of Talim and Taki players (the game’s quickest characters) that I ran across. With a game so clearly focused on ranked matches, having fights boil down to who can mash the fastest will clearly disappoint devoted fans once the nostalgia high comes crashing down.

For casual play, the connection is adequate with rarely any actual slowdown (as long as you are fighting someone in relative proximity to where you live), but there is still much room to improve. Soulcalibur IV’s online suffered from the same fate, which is the reason why so many stopped playing long before the series’ fifth installment. Hopefully, the folks at Namco are working on a patch, but with a release this late in the Xbox 360 and PS3’s lifespan, I wouldn't count on it.

If online isn't your cup of tea though, the rest of Soulcalibur II HD Online serves up enough delicious morsels to make it worth your while. As I previously mentioned, when Soulcalibur II first graced consoles many, many moons ago, it was the envy of every arcade-to-home conversion. Packed in the game was a plethora of diverse modes and bonuses to keep even the most casual of fighting game players engaged for countless hours and this HD upgrade contains them all intact (Well almost, as while Spawn and Heihachi are here, Link sadly didn't make the cut).  

Aside from the standard arcade and versus modes, there are survival, team battle, time attack, training, and a brilliant RPG-esque outing known as “Weapon Master Mode.” Weapon Master Mode is where players will spend the majority of their single-player time, as it the easiest way to unlock and purchase new costumes, weapons, arenas, special modes (like the Weapon Exhibition theater), and the games remaining characters. And though it may seem like a chore, by today’s fighting game standards to have to unlock a good portion of the roster (something I had hoped wouldn't have been the case for online play), Weapon Master Mode’s fun twist on the base Soulcalibur gameplay -- many of the missions require battles happen under extreme circumstances such as fighting while poisoned or over deadly quicksand -- makes it all worth the energy.

Soulcalibur II HD Online is a nearly flawless update of a decade old title. While it’s unfortunate that the online mode isn't nearly as polished as the rest of the game, the true soul of the game has never looked so beautiful. Hopefully Namco works out the kinks in the netcode, but even with its shortcomings there is more than enough game here to warrant another go with this fighting game classic.



Soulcalibur 2 HD Online - Reviewed by Wesley Ruscher
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Wesley Ruscher, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Former Dtoid Weekend News Editor & Mash Tactics Host.  more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Soulcalibur 2 HD Online

  Oct 31

Soulcalibur II HD Online transcends history in November

Namco Bandai celebrates acclaimed fighter's 10th anniversary with HD remaster

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Cblogs of 11/29/15 + Scott Pilgrim You Nefarious Swine!

Sexism in video games culture: social science says it’s real

How YOU can save DOAX3 (with diagrams)

Recap: Metal Gear Solid 2

Backward Compatibility Is More Important Than Ever (Maybe)

My beef with Sony

It's beginning to look a lot like censorship.

Solar Pony Django's Review on: Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival

Indivisible exposes why forced diversity and its proponents keep failing

Steam Controller Review

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

extatix avatarextatix
It's the best time of the year again! Finally we get to listen to Wham and Chris Rea over and over again!
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
The Unofficial Destructoid Christmas Card has been ordered. If you claimed one, you should probably PM me your address now.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Started playing Wonderful 101 and it's good, but pretty overwhelming. Think I'll put it down for now. Also sad that there is no penis formation. [img][/img]
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
What the hell happened to Arcade racing games?
EdgyDude avatarEdgyDude
Red from Transistor has joined Indivisible! many thanks to Supergiant Games for their support to this game.
JBroXNari99 avatarJBroXNari99
Does anyone know if Advent of Indies is happening this year? I looked it up today and didn't find any updates on their Twitter since January.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I brought that cake I made into work and it disappeared fast. Maybe if I lose my job I can just make a living selling cakes on the end of my street.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
My review-in-progress of Just Cause 3: Explosions - good. Grappling hook - good. Flying - good. Driving - an abomination. 8/10.
SirDavies avatarSirDavies
Well, ugh, this is awkward. A year ago I wrote a cblog about cool indie games coming in 2015, and not a single one of them has been released :/
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
I was happy to have never spoiled myself the final boss of Splatoon's campaign. That was one of the best boss fights ever and I absolutely love the credits track. So relaxing. [youtube][/youtube]
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Today's kids will never know the struggle of putting an encyclopedia on top of an NES Max to auto-buy 99 potions before heading into Terra Cavern
CblogRecaps avatarCblogRecaps
Sometimes, on more dreary days, I make a smiley face with sliced-pickle eyes and bacon grin in my lunch-burger. It fills me up all the same, but I feel a warm sense of accomplishment, achievement and satisfaction on top of it.
Shinta avatarShinta
[youtube][/youtube] Isn't this the greatest thing ever?
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Well, my Bloggers Wanted post is up, but it timetraveled back to Sunday behind Zetta's blog or will only post two days from now otherwise. Mrgrgr.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Yeah I still can't take the new Batman and Superman seriously, Batman just looks so stupid with his cowl lol.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
This near final build of Nuclear Throne is going to bring back my eye twitch.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
When I was a lad, I loved this game something fierce. [img][/img] Anyone else ever play the tie in Small Soldiers games? Maybe it's nostalgia, but I remember them being not too bad.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Finally got my surface pro 3. Holy shit I love this little guy. And Windows 10 is better than I thought.
Putting more effort into iOS game review than African American history book report. This is not what Dr. King died for. Or maybe he did, I wouldn't know because I'm not doing the book report. Wha-hey!!
Lawman avatarLawman
More info and footage on that cancelled first-person THQ Avengers game is shown. The heartache's still real.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -