Xbox Live Arcade Review: Soul Calibur

The date of 9-9-99 should ring familiar to gamers. The Dreamcast launched alongside Namco’s epic fighter Soul Calibur on that September day, setting a precedent Dreamcast developers would struggle to match for the lifespan of the console. On the Live Arcade, the game proves it has extensive legs in its gameplay, but Namco has botched this port by excluding vital features.

Fans will instantly notice something is amiss the minute they boot up and head into the arcade mode. Everything is unlocked. All of the artwork, characters and stages that took hours of work to obtain on the Dreamcast is already there for Xbox 360 gamers. Why?

Namco stripped out the story mode.

This critical, replay value producing feature means the anemic single player modes are all solo players can take advantage of. A few variations on the survival and time attack modes are hardly what fans are looking for. However, all is well since there’s online play, right?

Namco failed to add online modes.

Granted, the original didn’t offer it either, but if Namco saw fit to break the core of the single player mode, why wouldn’t you include something to keep players coming back? Local versus play is all you can to try and make the most of your $10 purchase.

Thankfully (at the very least), this still stands as the best game in the series. The effortless, flowing combat system is a joy to play around with. Each character is well balanced with a staggering number of moves. Even after multiple sequels, none of the following games can match up to the flawless fighting engine as it’s featured here.

Namco did spend some time cleaning up textures and increasing the resolution. However, don’t let the misnomer “support for HD resolutions” trick you if you plan on showing the game off to friends. This Live port only supports 4:3 aspect ratios, and there is no option to stretch it horizontally.

If you’re a die hard fan of the game, it’s more than likely you own the original and Dreamcast. Stick with that. This meager, featureless port may look slightly shinier, but it’s lacking in every department that matters to justify spending your $10 on it.

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