Shin

Tekken Card Tournament

Tekken Card Tournament The Waiting Game

Yay, another freemium card game for the iPad.
Mini review: it looks like Tekken, is disguised as a card game, but is basically just rock, paper, scissors. With a non-working multi player mode. NEXT!

Tiny Tower

Tiny Tower is one of the most popular games on the iPhone right now, and deservedly so.
It’s sort of an oversimplified version of Sim Tower for anyone old enough to remember that. You manage your building, buy floors, assign residents that move in to jobs and make sure all the stores are stocked so you get more money to buy more floors. That’s it in a nutshell, and it works. It’s the attention to detail in the graphics and mechanics that make it hard to put down, even if you are just a casual gamer. The game is free, but freemium, meaning you can spend money in game to advance more quickly. The thing I appreciate about how it’s been implemented is that the game in no way forces you to buy anything. You can fully enjoy the game and every aspect of it without spending any money, unlike so many freemium games that limit certain items.

Anyway, the game divides floors into Food, Service, Recreation, Retail, Creative & Residential. You need the last one so you can get more residents to move in, and you need 3 residents to fully man a store. You can upgrade your elevator, rename stores, customize how your lobby and your residents look, get bonuses for assigning residents to their dream job, the list goes on. And every app update adds new bits and features.
Give it a try, I’m sure you’ll like it. This is my tower by the way, a work in progress.

Kingdom Conquest

Well hello stranger, where have you been so long. Out of nowhere Sega jumps on the iPhone bandwagon with a fresh new game, not a Sonic rehash, not Mega Drive classic port like Phantasy Star or Golden Axe, but a new game. And free too. Well freemium technically, but they’ve done it right. Unlike others Sega doesn’t actually let you cheat with their in game purchases or block you from unlocking any content unless you spend cold hard cash. So for all intents and purposes this really is free.

And it’s wonderful. It’s an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) where you have to build your kingdom, expand your territory, group with others in real time dungeons to defeat baddies and build up your monster army to fight in tactical combat. And there’s quests too.


Build your city, gather resources, research & train monsters.


Expand your territory, forge alliances and attack other players.


Unlock new monsters, train them and level them by attacking neighbouring lands.

No screenshot of the realtime battle, I already blew out my 5 daily tries before realizing I wanted to post about this. :D
It’s free, what are you waiting for? Get it!

And thank you Sega! Now make a new console please.

Transformers G1: Awakening

This game is reviewed everywhere as an Advance Wars in Transformers setting. I wonder if any of those people ever actually played Advance Wars.
At first glance yes, it might have similar appearance, but the gameplay mechanics are different. It lacks depth of the aforementioned DS title, but makes up for that by throwing the first generation Transformers into the mix. The game follows the story of the cartoon somewhat, you start off with Bumblebee and more characters get introduced later on. You complete missions by fulfilling the objective, which usually means killing all the Decepticons, or the objective can be skipped entirely by just killing all the Decepticons anyway. Later on in the game you jump through the space gate and end back on Cybertron where the difficulty curve makes a steep incline and the game turns more into a puzzle challenge where you have to think and wonder how the heck you can achieve said objective. Like for example getting to your weapons while you’re fully unarmed and several Decepticons are blocking your way.
Oh, and did I mention this is a port of a generic 2008 cellphone game? Well it is, and it shows, although it is updated for the iPhone a bit interface wise.
So yay or nay? Well, at €0.79 it won’t exactly break the bank one way or the other. For strategy lovers it can be a quick fun blast, but not too recommended. For Transformers fans, especially the ones who think, like me, that the first generation was the best; it’s a blast. Come on, it even has Jetfire (Skyfire in the tv show) turning from bad to good. Get it. ;)

Puzzle Quest – Challenge of the Warlords

Puzzle Quest - Challenge of the Warlords

Console: Nintendo DS
Developer: 1st Playable Productions / Infinite Interactive
No. of Players: 1 – 2 (Multi-player Wireless Connection)
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Release Date: March 16, 2007 (Europe), March 20, 2008 (U.S.)
Rating: E/+10

Story

Some say that the universe moves in several cycles. A cycle of death, a cycle of war and and cycle of peace. If that is true, the Agarian Empire has known of the cycle of peace for too long. It is time for the next cycle to begin. You are the Empire’s only hope to see through the next cycles and bring peace once again. Begin your heroic journey as a druid, knight, warrior or wizard to battle monsters.

Presentation – 8/10

For a game that is commonly known as Bejeweled, the Japanese have really outdone themselves by stirring in of a bit of RPG.
The dialogue was much like that of ‘ye olde’ times. You have optional choices on how you will finish some of your quests, much like that of an multi-linear RPG. Side quests and the story line could leave you playing for hours if it weren’t for the fact that this is Bejeweled in disguise. Depending on your difficulty setting, you spend 95% of the time matching and combining gems. With most role playing games I like to play, I prefer having a little more story than that.

Sound – 7/10

Epic on many scales but the DS speakers, like always, let you down. It’s like listening to your favourite band
(to be cool I should say Iron Maiden but my first cassette was Spice World) on your very first cassette player while you’re out on a jog. You come back home and then pop the same album in cd form into your component system and realize that ‘oomph’ you were missing. The sound of this game is exactly like that. Still good on the DS but even better if you were to play it on a different console that requires a television.

Control – 9/10

Unless you have steady and thin fingers, this game functions best and mainly operates with the stylus. It became frustrating at times when pinpoint precision was key to jewel swapping. It could be seen as either good or bad thing that the screen is more sensitive than normal to your stylus’ touch. At times, it was a bad thing when you would make an illegal move – where your combination of jewels or skulls in a pair of three to five was off – that you didn’t mean to make at all. That being said and for future reference do not drink any caffeine or be half asleep while playing. Other than that irritation, a nine out of ten score seemed reasonable.

Gameplay – 9/10

When I first played ‘Bejeweled’ on the computer it was love at first sight. Rather, once I learned how to play it, I grew a gradual appreciation for it. Combining a game I was very skilled at with my favourite genre (RPG) was a match made in heaven.
However that heaven didn’t last long as I sometimes battled the same monster for up to three hours. Fortunately for me, I found that you could easily switch from Normal to Easy any time you wanted. This could be seen as something done for the ‘dumbed down’ generation of gamers but say that to me after what I’ve been through.

Graphics – 9.5/10

For a two dimensional platform with the ever so popular anime stylized art, this nearly receives and A+ from me. I knocked it down a half point because in my own sick and twisted way, I would have liked to have seen more animation.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates


Console: Nintendo DS
Developer: Square Enix
No. of Players: 1- 4 (Multi-player Wireless Connection)
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Release Date: March 21, 2008 (Europe), March 11, 2008 (U.S.), August 23, 2007 (Japan)
Rating: E/+10 – Fantasy Violence

Story

In a small quaint village of the Veo Lu Highlands lived various members of tribes in harmony. A bird-like yuke, a sweetly childish alchemist of Lilty and a devoted father of two twins named Yuri and Chelinka. Together, the twins wielded an mysterious and binding power that their father taught them to harness. One dreadful night, when the moon rose a blood red, their serene lifestyle was torn a part. The story truly begins here as the brave young twins venture out to seek answers and justice.

Presentation – 8/10

I would love to say that the story was genuinely fulfulling but my palette was left with dull colours by the time I reached the end of the game. One could argue and say the need for ‘more’ meant that it was presented well but I think my need for ‘more’ was mostly on the notion that I had been spoiled by previous Final Fantasy games in sense of quantity and an in depth story line. I was stunned by the 3D CG but there weren’t as many villages or other places to visit as I would’ve liked.

Sound – 9.5/10

Close your eyes and think of the adjective ethereous. The opening main screen theme was magical and midst playing the sound and music set the mood. It was very well done and I honestly haven’t anything bad to say about it. There wasn’t a recognizable song or theme to tell you ‘this is Final Fantasy – Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates’. It was more like the subtle fluidity of Final Fantasy’s origins. Back in those days, the franchise didn’t need a pre-eminent song due to its masterful gameplay.

Control – 7/10

While adventuring, you have the advantage of toogling from one party member to the next depending on the obstacle or boss difficulty. While most of the time this could be seen as a good thing, it became increasingly frustrating when my other AI party members were unresponsive during battle or when I would try to reach a hard to get treasure chest. Other than that, the control options were smooth and easy to pick up.

Gameplay – 8/10

There are two modes to choose from – Story Mode and Multiplay Mode. Story Mode is only for single playing. You can toggle from one character to the next as you fight your way onto the next adventure. In Multiplay Mode you and up to four other people are able to create your own character. There are many different ways to play in this mode. There is also a side mode called Moogles, where you can receive Moogle Stamps, paint your own Moogle and trade moogles between friends. The gameplay is also much like FFX-2 where it becomes a hack’em ‘n slash’em thing. For those who enjoy that type of RPG play instead of the strategical turn waiting, it meets nearly all your expectations.

Graphics – 8.5/10

The CG is absolutely staggering. Over the years, Final Fantasy has dabbled with several different artistic representations of their games. Crystal Chronicles likens itself most to FFIX in the sense of an almost childlike/cartoony approach. The cutscenes are short and for the sake of the story I would have enjoyed more of them.

Final Score – 8.2

Crystal Chronicles was fun and hard to put down once I got into the game. There were a few things that upset me but even with those frustrations I would still say it’s a game to look into. I still have yet to enjoy it’s said vast wonders of Multiplayer.

The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact

King of Fighters: Maximum Impact Collector’s Edition Review

Status
-Console: Playstation 2
-ESRB Rating: Teen
-Genre: Fighting
– #Of Players: 1-2
-Difficulty: Adjustable
-Published by: SNK Playmore
-Completion Time: N/A
– #Of discs: 2 (additional “The Making of…” DVD)

Presentation: 6/10

The main thing that is notable about the presentation is the box that holds the two DVD cases looks. It is full of color and large CG images of past King of Fighters Characters. The idea behind this game is the merging of 2-d and 3-d gameplay with an all-new story. Whether this game meets the objectives it claims to promote is still very much up in the air. With every step forward, there is something that holds this game back.

Story: 6/10

As with many fighting games, the usual motivation of the story is that someone is holding a fighting tournament and various fighters get invited to beat the stuffing out of each other. However, this game takes the story a little further. The main story follows the exploits of the brothers Meira, and how they seek revenge for the assassination of their leader Fate. Fate was a powerful gang leader of the city of Southtown, a place forever known in SNK history from the Fatal Fury fighting series. Fate also raised both of the brothers from early childhood. Since they feel they owe a large debt for what he did for them, they both enter to meet Duke, the man that put out the hit on Fate’s Head.

Sound: 4/10

The music in this game is pretty well placed. The tunes that you will hear match the areas that you are fighting in. These songs are a mix of jazzy hip-hop, & rock and roll, that really help the player get into beating down on many of the game’s opponents. The sound effects are a good variety of hits and smacks that bring the brutality of the moves up a notch.

On the other hand, the English voice-overs run the spectrum from “Eh…” to downright atrocious. Many of the lines don’t match the lip synchs of the characters, leaving many noticeable moments of people’s mouths moving, but no sound coming out of them. To make matters worse, voices rarely match the characters. This mismatch causes most of the story scenes come off as over-dramatic. The script writing is filled with cheesy one-liners and cut and paste conversations that sometimes don’t make any sense at all. Since there is no option to switch to the original Japanese voice-overs, gamers are left with a sour taste in their mouth when there favorite character loses a majority of the personality that the gamer has grown to be accustomed to. Practically all of the game is dubbed, and gamers will be forced to get used to, or turn the volume all the way down, to avoid this major problem. It is a shame, because the music is pretty good and the horrific voice-overs drain the music out.

-Control: 7/10

The control is pretty easy to get into, but seems to suffer from having more commands than the controller can handle. Most of the difficulty comes from the dodging in the game. The R1 button has the sole purpose of doing the trademark rolling dodges, and the “new” sidestep options. Though it is very easy to do the wrong type of dodge. Luckily this can be remedied by the fully customizable controls.

-Graphics: 7/10

The main thing gamers will notice is just how colorful the game really is. Most of the KOF favorites make the transition to 3-d quite well. Character stances are intact and the moves are made to dazzle. The areas are pretty bland, with most of the fighting taking place in a square or circle of some kind. The environments outside of the fighting are detailed and nice to look at. The people in the backgrounds look very blurry though, as if a 2-d sprite was pasted into the landscape.

Though the character models look nice, they are far from top notch. Mignon Beart, one of the new characters, has a costume that you can see the line from where the creators wrapped the costume skin around the initial body model. Other characters have issues with polygons passing through one another, which is most evident in the profile mode, where hair goes completely through a character’s arm and any other limbs or clothes that get in the way.

-Gameplay: 6/10

The game’s speed is much faster this time around, and puts the familiar special move system on the back burner and replaces it with a combo system much like a Tekken or Soul Calibur. The difference is that many of the moves don’t “flow” into each other and you become reliant on one combo that you can abuse over and over again until you knock out an opponent. The computer does this as well, and makes this tactic their primary mode of attack. Now that characters can take damage while lying on the ground, and can be bounced back into the walls to extend the combos and damage, if you get caught on the ground or in front a wall that you can’t sidestep away from, you will receive massive damage and probably lose. Most of the “old school” SNK fans will get turned off from the lack of power in their favorite special attacks, and the lack of depth in the combo system will turn off the 3-d fighting fans. Many of the battles boil down to a pattern of: “Dodge attack, attack with combo, dodge attack, attack, rinse and repeat.”

Multiplayer: 7/10

The game features the standard VS mode, which gives the option of playing against the computer or a friend in trademark 3-on-3 battles, or just doing a standard one-on-one match. The main drawback to the 3-on-3 fights is the load times between battles.

Longevity: 6/10

The game has a large amount of unlockable content. Through the mission mode, gamers can gain new costumes and stages, and it does a passable job of teaching you how to correctly exploit the battle system. Clearing the story mode with a character unlocks their profile. In this mode, gamers can look at a model of the character, and zoom in and out, while they are in their battle stance. You can find out about their back-stories and the things they like. Unfortunately, there are a few translation issues here as well. For example: Did you know that Rock Howard’s (a selectable character in the game) favorite food is his driving gloves?

The “Rigging Model” area of the profile allows the player to slightly tweak existing costumes. Some changes are minimal, from adding a guitar case on a character’s back, to options that practically make another outfit. It would have been nice to allow the characters the option to wear all of the rigging models, but most of them are intended to be comical, yet the miss the mark completely.

Final Score: 6/10

This game can be fun. The artist Falcoon did the characters designs, and each one comes off beautifully despite the graphical errors. His style gives the series a much needed boost, and a uniqueness all its own. The gameplay, though flawed, can be fun when fighting under normal conditions. I also wish that they didn’t stack the deck so high against you in the final fight. I wish developers would realize that making incredibly overpowered final bosses to increase the challenge doesn’t increase the challenge. It just inspires frustration. In the case of Duke, this game’s final boss, he is powerful enough without the infinite special bar. Giving him that just allows him to abuse his super powered finishing move by using it in sequence over and over. The horrible voice acting takes the gamer out of the experience, and nearly ruins the game by itself. The additional DVD shows trailers, interviews, and a few quick glances of artwork sketches. It features an additional instruction booklet that shows all of the moves and a quick summary of each character’s whereabouts before they were mailed the invitation to the tournament. In closing, this is a series that definitely has potential, but many, many things will need to be fixed before it can truly become the king.

By Plumbum Sol

The King of Fighters: 2006 / Maximum Impact 2

King of Fighters 2006
Status
– Console:
Playstation 2
– ESRB Rating: Teen
– Genre: Fighting
– #Of Players: 1-2
– Difficulty: Adjustable
– Published by: SNK Playmore
– Completion Time: N/A
– Memory Card Usage: 84KB
– #Of discs: 1

Presentation: 8/10

The sequel to The King of Fighters Maximum Impact arrives with a new name and improvements in nearly every area. Players will notice more of the little things like being able to have Japanese voice options or not having to exit the profile area just to see same character in their other costume. Menus are also more colorful and full of life than the dark and dreary presentation of the original. From the sound to the graphics, everything is more refined.


Story: 8.5/10

After the conclusion of the first tournament, The Meria brothers defeated Duke, leader of the gang Mephistopheles, and started to restore peace to the city of Southtown. Around this time, invitations to the next tournament began arriving at the doors of the characters that would be invited to participate.

All of the characters that are available in the beginning actually have a story this time around, unlike the first that only focused on about 4 characters or so. Everyone has an actual goal and reason for being there. The stories are pretty interesting and take the series into some strange directions that make it a unique experience, even when compared to its 2-d brethren.

Sound: 7/10

Overall, the sound quality has improved from the last game. Most of the battle noises and sound effects have been carried over from the last game, with additions for the new characters. Punches and kicks still have that brutal sound to them. The soundtrack is less rock and roll and more jazz this time around, and it makes the overall experience less annoying. With the exception of the music that plays during the hard challenges, the soundtrack is very relaxing on the ears.

The voice-overs from the first game remain the same; with some characters having re-recorded lines, and others have a completely different Voice Actors. On the whole, if players hated the English options before, they will probably still dislike them to some degree. Now, the Japanese vocal options are available as well, and provide a nice change of pace. Both tracks suffer from missed Lip Synchs, but the English track has more instances of it being noticed for a longer period of time. Despite that, I found myself enjoying the English track more, and it seemed to be less annoying this time around. No matter what options are chosen, players will still get stuck with possibly one the worst announcers I have ever heard. Neither track seems to be on the caliber of Soul Calibur III, but it the little changes manage to have a large effect on the experience.

Control: 7/10

The controls are still fully customizable. There is no joystick support in this game. With the new addition of the “Sabaki” parries, any configuration from the original setup will result in a loss of something else. It doesn’t make the game unplayable by any means, but it is annoying. Controls are also more responsive than in the previous game. Pulling off combos that switch between Stylish Moves (3-d commands) and Special Moves (commands from the 2-d games) are much easier.

Graphics: 8/10

The graphic quality has improved. The arenas are more filled with life and detail. The little things, like the sun peaking through the background of a large “The King of Fighters” billboard, to the impressive lightshows that go on in certain arenas during the fight, really add a layer of realism. The concept of participants fighting in a tournament that brings a lot of publicity is more believable in comparison to the parking garages and desolate areas of the original. Floors in some areas take damage, and unlike other games in the genre players can actually see the damage to these certain areas accumulate over a period of time. Area damage also carries over to the remaining rounds in the fight.

I’d still like to see characters be able to beat one another through a wall into another area though. The areas in the game usually consist of a square ring placed into a random environment. Having the option for day/night versions of many of the stages is nice as well, but the night locales are often too dark.

The character models are very detailed and almost meet the quality of Falcoon’s visual art style. Each of the 38 characters has a total of 32 costume options, 16 of which are unlockable. While the first 4 of the characters 2 outfit types are just pallet swaps of one another, the unlockable items could easily pass as completely new characters. Rigging models are gone, but in some of the costumes they show up. Many of these costumes are minor tributes to other SNK characters. Character skins are less rubbery this time around, and actually serve their purpose quite well. Collision detection is much better, and the chance of hair passing through a character’s body is rare. Tthere were a few times where characters faced away from each other and were still able to land attacks despite the animations showing the attacking character hitting only the air. Overall, animations are much smoother as well. Moves and special effects are very colorful and easy on the eyes.

One of the new features to the series is the ability to, after pausing the game with the start button, and then hitting the select button, is the option to zoom in and out on the current frame of action. The camera rotates fully above and around each character. This option was originally only available in the XBOX version of Maximum Impact Maniax. It would have been nice if player were actually able to save some of the screenshots to a memory card. Also the character models disappear if they are zoomed in on too much. This is problematic because you can never seem to get close enough to what you want to see. The system also has problems getting the right angles on characters in the air. The area where the camera locks onto usually isn’t where the character is in those situations.

Gameplay: 7.5/10

The gameplay hasn’t changed much from the original, but the minor changes and revisions make the experience feel less aggravating. Still, the best road to success is to find that one combo that a character can use over and over again. Each character has more 2-d moves available to them. Now old school players will have an easier time getting into the game. Also, falling down on the ground isn’t nearly as fatal as it was in the first game. Getting stuck up against the wall still can be very troublesome, since characters can’t roll past one another, but it is not nearly as annoying.

New to the system is the “sabaki” counter option that parries an enemy character’s attacks. It is a useful addition that allows characters to get out of the infinite combo strings that are still in the game. Dodging is still a pain, and is almost worse than the previous game. Characters never seem to dodge fast or far enough. In some cases, dodging proved to be useless because the attacking character’s combo would simply adjust to where the dodging character moved. While it isn’t a large problem in the arcade mode, the sluggish response and sheer difficulty of dodging make most of the additional missions far more challenging than they need to be. Every once in a while, it seems like two different game systems are being used at the same time, 2-d version, and the 3-d version.

The mission mode returns with nearly 5 times as many missions than in the original. In the games 220 missions, players will do challenges that range from fighting a Metal Slug Tank, to attacking boulders that fall from the sky in order to carve them into Moai. While there is a lot to do in this game, doing the regular missions get tedious after a while. When I got around level 70 in the Easy Missions, I was sick of doing them. Once the first 100 missions are unlocked another 100 Hard Missions become available. The only noticeable change between the two sets of missions is that in the hard missions character selection is disabled. The major problem about this is, in a many cases, is that the game FORCES you to gain a nearly intimate level of understanding of the character that is chosen for you. While I don’t have any problems with experimenting with new characters, I didn’t like being forced to learn how to play as someone I had no desire of choosing.

This game also has a unique survival mode, in which players gain points for successful victories and then can spend them on a variety of things from extra storage gauges for special moves, to power and life limit increases. It is a pretty fun adjustment to the worn out survival modes of other games, and it is enjoyable.

Multiplayer: 7/10

All of the versus modes from the original return. Gamers can still play the traditional 1 on 1 or 3 on 3 team battles, both against a friend or the computer. New to the mix is the option to play with a roulette system that can be beneficial (attacks do twice as much damage), or stick you with a handicap (only being able to use one star DOA Thrashing Super Special Moves).

Longevity: 8/10

Fans looking for that coveted 100% completion will definitely get their money’s worth. Almost anything that a player can complete successfully, unless it is has already been completed, will result in something new getting unlocked. The game almost has too much to unlock. It gets tedious going through a difficult challenge, or having to beat the Time Attack mode over and over again, only to get a costume for the character, or a random character if the original character has everything unlocked already. While there are a few arenas to unlock, and a large selection of musical tunes going as far back in SNK history as the original Fatal Fury, (all of those music tunes are unlocked at once), there just isn’t enough variety in what you can gain. It would have been nice to unlock an art gallery, or actually be able to chose which characters outfits would be unlocked in an store/shop area.

Final Score: 7.5/10

This game is a definite improvement over the original, and is really fun to play. The minor changes almost make the original game unplayable in comparison. I really enjoyed the character selection and how it even has some extremely rare characters like Richard Myer, who was in the original Fatal Fury as one of the first 4 bosses, Lily Kane: Billy Kane’s (who is also playable) sister who only showed up in his endings, and Hanzo Hattori, who was in the Samurai Showdown games. It is a shame that the majority of American audiences didn’t get the KOF Another Day Anime DVD that was originally promoted as a free bonus with the game. It was later revealed by the company AFTER its release date, that it was pre-order only. The complaints I have with the game weren’t enough to ruin the experience. If you like the King of Fighters series, you will enjoy this game.

By Plumbum Sol

Soul Calibur III


Status
-Console:
Playstation 2
-ESRB Rating: Teen
-Genre: 3-d Fighting
– #Of Players: 1-2
-Difficulty: Adjustable
-Published by: Namco
-Memory Card Usage: 300 KB
– #Of discs: 2 (Bonus Namco Demo Disc V.3.2)

Presentation: 8.5/10

Since Sony snagged the exclusive rights to SC III a while ago, fans have been wondering how the game will measure up to its mega-hit multi-platform predecessor. With its beautiful graphics, new modes, a character creator, and an improved overall storybook atmosphere, it does a pretty good job.

Story: 7/10

While storylines haven’t been the main draw for fighting game fans, SC III does an admirable job of weaving an interesting and compelling atmosphere. The Azure Knight, Siegfried is finally freed from the bonds of the evil sword Soul Edge by stabbing the blade with its opposing counterpart Soul Calibur. He then goes on a quest to finally destroy it. All the while Nightmare, the personality Siegfried assumed while under control of the sword has been somehow revived and wishes to finally release the true power of the blade on the unsuspecting world. Throw in a bunch of characters that wish to either take Soul Edge for themselves or destroy the blade, and you have yourselves a game.

3 new characters enter the fray this time. Zasalamel, a man with a massive scythe, who found a way to be reincarnated eternally, orchestrates storyline events in hopes of finally finding a way to die. Next there is Setsuka, a beautiful woman wearing a kimono who simply seeks revenge on the man who killed her adoptive father in a duel. Finally there is Tira, the psychotic willing servant of Soul Edge that just kills with a giant bladed hoola-hoop of death out of pure enjoyment of the suffering of others. They all fit very well into the growing cast and add to the huge number of weapon based fighting styles already present.

Sound: 8.5/10

Players are once again given the option to choose between Japanese and English voice-overs. Players that are audio purists will enjoy being able to switch between the two. The English VO is done very well. It is probably one of the better vocal sounding fighting games out there. Nearly everyone seems to fit the roles that they were cast as, and much better than in the previous game. Though, there are plenty of times where the subtitle on screen doesn’t match the audio. It is somewhat understandable with all of the text, but it is disappointing. Also audio lines seem to get cut off suddenly in a few cases.

The music returns with its trademark orchestrated scores, still as good as ever. Though in some cut-scenes the music doesn’t always load. Which is a little strange. The sounds of weapons clashing and slicing in the midst of battle is still seems to be quite realistic.

Control: 8/10

The controls remain the same this time around, one button for horizontal slashes, another for vertical slashes, and the last 2 for guards and kicks. Pushing combinations of these buttons does a variety of things. It is just as responsive as ever. Luckily if a player hates the control scheme, it is fully customizable. The camera works fine, but there are times especially during throws where zooming in on the action can get a little disorienting.

Graphics: 9/10

Everything is improved this time around. Stages are a beautiful sight to see. Whether it is a battle on a samurai ship in the midst of a fierce battle with flaming arrows flying through the air, or fighting in a beautiful cathedral with water flowing down around the battle arena, everything looks really nice. Floors show damage when powerful moves connect, much like in Tekken 5. Character models are improved too, especially in facial details. When gamers watch their favorite character speak in the profile mode, the mouth movements actually look pretty realistic.

The create-a-character mode is pretty impressive, though, it is quite limited. Players only have one body type for their gender. So any dreams of creating your very own hulking giant like Astaroth or a petite character like Talim still remain dreams. Character creations never seem to reach the quality of the original characters. The original characters clothing just seem to be shiner for some reason. Most of the create-a-character’s” clothing just has a plain, bland look. The original characters have an interesting color edit feature, but that is pretty limited as well. Gamers are only allowed to change 3 areas of the character, 2 for clothing, and 1 for hair. It would have been nice if gamers were able unlock some of the main character’s clothing by completing some requirement in the “Tales of Souls” mode or something, but alas, it doesn’t happen.

Gameplay: 8.5/10

One of the new additions to the game is the Tales of Souls mode, in which the gamers play through their own chose your own adventure type of storyline with the character of their choice. Before every match players will be reading a large blurb of text explaining the actions of what a character is doing at that time. It is kind of reminiscent of the Weapon Master Mode in SCII. Players are allowed some freedom in choosing where they will go next, and events will change according to what is chosen.

Sadly, most of the characters share the same cut-scenes and events in their storylines. Also in many of the cut-scenes are moments where you have to press a pre-specified button or combination of buttons. Missing the timed event will usually result in lost health, or starting off the match with a negative status effect on your character. The main problem with this is that it gets boring doing it over and over after a while. There is no way to skip the sequences either. It is especially aggravating when they show up during the character endings. When I would play with a character I’d normally never use, and barely make it through the storyline only to have my ending ruined because I couldn’t hit the up button and square fast enough, it was aggravating. Even if the ending can be viewed in the Museum mode and the timing be eventually mastered there, it still bothered me on some level.

Next, there is the Chronicles of the Sword mode, the hyped RTS mode meant to replace Weapon Master this time around. This is the main mode in which Create a Character shows its stuff. A story of 3 kingdoms fighting for supremacy with a group of shadowy figures manipulating the strings awaits players. The problem with this mode is that the story is so vague and thin; it is really difficult to get anything out of it.

There aren’t any real strategy elements in this mode either. Winning nearly always consists of killing everyone on the map. Most battles consist of either attacking until it is over, or defending until the advancing enemy troops are killed, and then going and killing the general. SC III characters make an appearance in certain bases for no real reason outside of giving players a chance to see what their Job Class is. (Character move-lists can be unlocked with enough player experience in a particular job class.) Many of the strange field effects that each fortification could have aren’t described at all, so players will end up jumping in and finding out what they mean the hard way. Also, created characters in the CotS mode can’t be carried over to the main mode. They have to be recreated in the separate Character Creator. While the mode can be fun, and a nice change from the Tales of Sword mode, it can get really boring sometimes. Players can’t save mid battle, so if they get started and have to quit, their progress will be lost, unless they purposely get all of their characters wiped out. Sadly, most of the items that can be unlocked in the character creator are found here.

These modes are only the tip of the iceberg. There is a tournament mode, which is pretty fun except you can’t save your progress. The Soul Arena offers the ability to participate in a bevy of unique missions from fighting a giant statue to attacking the enemy in hopes of getting the coins that come out of their bodies every time an attack is successful. Also, the arcade style of playing through the game (2 out of 3 rounds, no story) is available as well. There is a new additional training mode, that teaches new players the ins and outs of the system, with a glossary of all of the SC terminology to boot. That becomes very helpful since character’s move lists have changed. It would have been nice if they showed the rhythm of button presses for the commands like in the Tekken games, because just watching the computer do a move successfully, and then actually trying to do it can be difficult.

It sad that Namco didn’t put in the arcade ports of Soul Edge, and Soul Calibur like the development team mentioned in earlier interviews before release, but it is understandable why they didn’t. Decent online play would have been great, especially if none of your gaming buddies are in to fighters. But there is definitely more than enough to keep the fighting game fan occupied.

Multiplayer: 7/10

The multiplayer pretty much remains unchanged this time around. Though the addition of the tournament mode is okay, chances of most gamers finding enough people to play with is slim. It still manages to great for all of the tournament competitors out there. Some battles feature additional effects like icy floors or increased damage for moves that knock an opponent back. Though the best part is fighting with the character creations.

Longevity: 10/10

Namco has made a fighting game that will last for a very long time. They show just how much they care about the single player by placing so much stuff to do and things to unlock. Though some unlockables are very tedious and time consuming to find, the feeling of accomplishment always follows after players find a new event in Tales of Souls, unlock a new fighting style with a character creation, or get the gold medal requirement on one of the challenges in the Soul Arena. The stores run out of items way too early in the experience. There are a lot of things to buy, but I still found myself having a lot of money with nothing to spend it on. The multiplayer combat is just as good as it has always been, and maybe even more interesting now that character creations can battle along with series favorites.

Final Score: 9/10

This game has a tendency to just suck up entire days. Players will find themselves sitting down for a small break, and then looking at the watch to find that a few hours have passed. It is an addictive experience. I just hope that in the next inevitable installment, they will improve the quality of the Create a Character, and put in the arcade ports of the earlier Soul Calibur/Edge games. Only the most dedicated fans will actually sit through to get the 100% completion that they are looking for. The computer intelligence is a lot smarter this time around, and will be more likely to take advantage of positioning and mistakes players will make. It is great that Namco put in the improved training mode and glossary. It makes the ability to rise from a novice to a possible tournament champion that much easier. Soul Calibur III manages to be as deep as ever, and still be accessible to new players. It is a great experience worthy of any videogame fan’s time.

By Plumbum Sol

Work in progress... not home!
Trying to get all/most of the new code working before I start on the eyecandy.