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Soul Calibur III
game: Soul Calibur III
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Namco
developer: Namco
ESRB rating: RP (Rating Pending)
date posted: 12:00 AM Wed Apr 27th, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Wed Apr 27th, 2005

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Click to read.The News Thus Far...

There's going to be a lot of hurt feelings when in late 2005, Namco's franchise Soul Calibur will appear solely on the PlayStation 2.  You heard correct.  The announcement was made on March 24 that Soul Calibur III was to be exclusively for Playstation 2.  This time around there will be no cross-platform approach and, according to producer Hiroaki Yotoriyama, no guest characters.  Those of you who felt Spawn's, Link's, and Heihachi's appearances in the cross-platform Soulcalibur 2 were the best thing since sliced bread, I'm sorry to say you'll have to find something else to leer over.  On the other hand, if you thought the afforementioned characters were broken, overpowered gimmicks then you might feel reinvigorated by Soul Calibur III's fresh  new-stuff-only approach.  Yotoriyama-san also commented that it is his policy to "not do the same thing twice" which would account for the lack of guest characters.

Invading the already large list of fighters are three new ones: Zasalamel, Tira, and Setsuka.  Zasalamel is a hooded African character who wields a scythe-like weapon (for some idea, it looks like Ryu Hayabusa's Vigoorian Flail from Ninja Gaiden).  Tira is a nature-garbed amazon warrior who wields a the worlds deadliest Aerobie.  You all remember Aerobies right?  Those cool hollow Frisbees?  No?  Nevermind then.  Just think of it as a giant razor-edged hula hoop.  The third new character is Setsuka a busty, robe-wearing geisha who conceals a sword in the shaft of an umbrella.  Returning too will be all your original favorites - Mitsurugi, Taki, Ivy, Yoshimitsu (he's everywhere), Kilik, etc. - and a few others from the second Calibur - Raphael, Talim, Necrid - for a total of 25 unique fighters.  We're not sure if that includes characters that mimic others (like Weapon Master in Soul Calibur I and Charade in II) but since these characters are staple in the Soul Calibur series, the answer is probably yes.

On top of the 25 characters in the game Namco is boasting a new Character Creation Mode where you can set up your own customized character and then fight with him or her in the new Chronicles of the Sword Mode.  What this new Chronicles mode entails is yet to be determined, but it might be along the lines of an enhanced, unique character version of the Weapon Master Mode.

Speaking of the Weapon Master Mode, Namco has decided to revamp it - at least cosmetically, anyway.  The new mode will be called Tales of Souls Mode where you can guide one of the 25 characters through their story and understand the fates of these characters.  What new additions exist in this revamped mode is still uncertain, but it would be nice to see an actual CG or in game rendered story, as opposed to the usual art ˜n text approach that Namco has taken in previous incarnations of the series.  There's also a new mode called Soul Arena Mode, which will likely feature battles like "defeat so-and-so in X number of seconds" or "fight off as many enemies as possible with one life bar."  Of course, this is just speculation at the moment, but given the modes from Soul Calibur II, which were rather extensive already, I'd be surprised if they weren't reused to some extent.  That said, I'd be dissapointed if the 150 or so people Namco has working on the project (that's a lot) don't come up with a few new game styles and challenges; they've proven themselves talented and original time and again.  So look forward to many new game modes as well as returning favorites. Expect the deep fighting system to return in Namco's latest fighter, from the classic axe slam of Asteroth to the Summon Suffering of Ivy. 

The game looks gorgeous even this far from release and so you can imagine the visual treat we're in for when it is finalized. Right now we can tell the weapon trails make a valiant return as well as Namco's apt attention to character detail.  Also, the environments, at times original and reminiscent of past iterations are simply stunning works of art, I can't wait to lay the smack-down in them.

One of the real downsides to the game going PS2 exclusive is the lack of online play.  Namco has been really lagging (pun intended) in the online area - first Tekken 5, now this - so it's disheartening that so early in the development online options have been axed.  Anyway, the single player and versus modes will have to tide fans over (and they likely will) when the game goes gold tentatively late 2005.  As an adamant SC fan, I will be counting the months, weeks, days as the game draws closer to release.

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