soul calibur 2 weapons master mode

I first picked up Soul Calibur so that it would be around when phun and another friend of mine came up to visit and play games. At first I just thought of it as a sequel to Soul Blade, and I enjoyed the versus mode fighting.

Later, though, I wanted some more costumes for Voldo, because there’s nothing cooler than a snazzed-up gimp. I learned that I’d need to start playing “Weapons Master Mode,” which I had previously assumed was just a tutorial.

Well, it was, in fact, a story mode. I did some tutorialing, and some of it was even useful; quickly, though, I got out into the world and realized that I could actually play through my quest to find and exploit, destroy, or just frame Soul Edge. There was enough plot to be more than chapter glue, and each chapter was actually a well-designed scenario. It challenged me to beat several opponants in a row, or win only with throws, or do other things that helped develop good play. Meanwhile, I earned points that I could use to unlock secrets and bonuses.

Soul Calibur 2 brings back Weapons Master Mode, much improved. The plot is more interesting and coherent, the challenges are more detailed (and involved, with the addition of dungeons), and the rewards system is less haphazard.

I’m about halfway through Weapons Master, mostly using Link and Talim. There are a decent number of missions I haven’t seen yet, mostly because I need to finish Chapter 10 before they’ll unlock. If I’m going to get all the characters unlocked, I need to get through all these missions. Berserker might not be a very interesting character, but I don’t want to leave a big “?” box on my character select screen! What would my guests think of me?

Weapons Master consists of a world map divided into areas; areas are divided into stages. Each stage is a weird challenge, like survival mode, team play, play on a hostile environment, or navigation of a number of rounds connected like rooms and forming a simple maze. Once a stage is clear, it creates a path to the next stage or stages (the mode is only /mostly/ linear). It also might unlock a battleground or fighter.

There’s quite a lot of stuff to unlock in SCAL2. Most of the characters have unlockable costumes. They all have unlockable weapons. There are at least six unlockable characters. There are a number of secret battlegrounds. There are dozens (at least a hundred, I’d guess) of weapons. In general, stages and fighters are unlocked through normal semi-linear progress through weapons master mode; if you win a really hard battle on an unusual playing field or against an unusual enemy, you’re pretty likely to get access to it. In any event, you’ll earn gold, which can be spent on buying new outfits and weapons. On average, you can buy a weapon with four or five victories and a new outfit with twenty to fifty. There are a few other unlockables, too, like fighter exhibitions and weapon demos or concept and promo art.

The big improvement of SCAL2 over Soul Calibur is the weapon selection. Each fighter has about a dozen weapons, many of which have unique powers and different balances between offense and defense. I’ve taken to using Link’s Megaton Hammer and the Cane of Byrna; the hammer is very powerful at attacking and the cane can recover my health. (Both look boss.) I’ve unlocked other weapons for other characters, and it’s clear that weapon selection is going to make this obnoxiously deep game even more obnoxiously deep. I can imagine people dedicating days on end to the complete mastry of this game. The scary thing is that these people exist.

Still, if I had to be obsessed with perfecting my play of a modern video game, this might be it. If I played better, I could get all these weapons unlocked. I’m eager to equip Link with Soul Edge.

Written on September 3, 2003
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