Why SoulCalibur III was Perfect

Thinking back to how SoulCalibur III was absolutely perfect in about every way. Namco, take note.

After my recent disappointment with the new Street Fighter V, I spent a bit of time lamenting the current state of fighting games and was talking to my wife about it. Then I remembered we used to play SoulCalibur a lot. A little bit of IV but a LOT of III. I loved the series, but lost it when the fifth installment came out. A watered down story, a completely abysmal lack of options and some ridiculous new characters with obnoxious gimmicks gave me a game that didn't feel like the series I love.

Now, Namco, I know you're probably not listening, but if you are here's a list of why SoulCalibur III was the perfect reason to drop $60+ on a fighting game. And these are in no particular order.

1) The Roster was Solid.

I'm not kidding. Look at it. Not only does the roster already contain more characters than most new fighters (Pokkén and Street Fighter V I'm looking at you here) but each character has its own diverse feel. You could spend hours playing as Kilik only to switch to Voldo and feel like you're playing a fresh new game. Plus, unlike with V, everyone used weapons. No weird magic balls, no animal spirits, just solid weapons giving the game a more satisfying feel.

2) The Character Customization (Design)

I'm going to break this into two parts, and you're going to see why when I get to number three.

SoulCalibur III, to this day, has one of the best character creators in a fighting game outside of a WWE title. You could play for months and keep finding new ways to unlock new things for your custom character all the way up to the final item set; the pieces necessary to recreate KOS-MOS from Xenosaga.

I can't even imagine how amazing a fighting game would be that would give you this variety of customization characters AND the ability to have a solid, online, multiplayer component. Just seeing the crazy characters people come up with would be worth the price of admission.

Plus, Namco, if we're being real here, in addition to a wealth of unlockables, you could TOTALLY make a mint with DLC if you just stuck with it.

3) The Character Customization (Jobs)

Sure, SoulCalibur's IV and V also had create-a-player modes, but in addition to having surprisingly less customization items, they also took a big step back in another field.

In IV and V when you made a character, you got to pick how your character fought. To do this, you picked one of the preexisting characters and you'd fight like them.

But in III? III gave you the ability to pick additional jobs as well that you could unlock over time. The ONLY way to fight like these characters was to make your own character of this type. Anything from the dancer class could use deadly tambourines to a ninja class that fought using a giant shuriken. It was wonderful.

Not only that, but as your character levels you unlock the ability to switch their weapon out with a new one that, in turn, also played differently. Get your dancer to level 20, for example, and you get to use the "Grieve Edge," a special weapon which is a set of boots covered in blades that turns all your attacks into crazy, deadly kicking sprees.

4) "Chronicles of the Sword"

Oh my damn. This mode was incredible. Remember how I was telling you about the special character jobs and how you could unlock them? Well a lot of them were unlocked via SoulCalibur III's exclusive "Chronicles of the Sword" mode.

In addition to the preexisting wealth of modes you could play when you popped in this game, there was also "Chronicles". In this mode, you'd make a whole new character. No preexisting ones could do, you HAD to go in fresh. And when you did, you entered a new world with entirely new characters.

In it, you help your kingdom defend itself from enemies in a real time adventure mode. You fortify castles and plan routes to attack enemy bases all while making sure you're not missing an enemy on the map that's attacking your stuff. Engage in battle with one of the enemies on the map and you fight them with your remaining health in traditional SoulCalibur-esque combat.

In addition to the awesome story, this mode is huge and almost feels like its own separate game, as it should be, if you fight everyone in this mode you fight 244 characters. There are awesome thieves and evil kings and all sorts of characters you can discover. In addition to the killer story and the fun game play, unlocking the cooler character jobs gives you something to show off when people come over and see you have characters that play like nothing they unlocked thus giving you create-a-characters that felt like badges of honor.

5) "Tales of Souls"

For those looking for a single player mode that actually FEATURED the characters from SoulCalibur, than look no further than the amazing "Tales of Souls" mode.

This single player mode was rich in story complete with rendered cutscenes, terrific voice acting, and a surprising amount of choice and interactivity. In one particular scene (which almost everyone who's played it will remember immediately) your character enters a clock tower. Someone pushes a giant gear down at you, and if you don't hit the right button at the right time the gear hits you and you start the next fight with less health. There were even hidden cutscenes that were only available if you hit the right button at the right time. Hidden events and endings all over the place in this mode, but it was also a good way to encounter strange hidden characters like Greed or classics like Arthur, Li-long, or my personal favorite, Amy.

If you played your cards right, your choices even affected what final boss you'd go against. Most of the time you'd face off against creepy horror show reject Abyss. But, do the right things and you'd have to fight against Nightmare's final form, Night Terror.

In closing...

I could honestly go on all day about what made SoulCalibur III so amazing but I'll spare you as I've already cleared the 1000 words mark. This, in my opinion, was a master work on Namco's part and something I so desperately hope inspires a new SoulCalibur title. Hell, you could make some of this DLC and some of it unlockable if you have to, but I really want to see another game of this quality produced now. If we could do it on the PS2, we can do it on the PS4. At this point, I'd settle for an HD remake. Please, Namco?

Did you play this game? Let us know your thoughts and fond memories in the comments below. Unless you're going to tell us about your Harley Quinn create-a-character. We know. Everyone made one.

Games Soulcalibur 3 Genres Fighting Platforms PlayStation 2
Published Mar. 22nd 2016

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