Saturday, November 5

Angel Ace the Fighting Game!

One of the coolest things about Soul Calibur III for the PS2 is the Character Creation Mode. As I’ve mentioned in my review, it’s more ‘dress-up’ a character than anything else, since you can’t actually set moves attacks. However, it’s still a blast to try and make up a fighter based either on your personal preferences or other titles/franchises. Online, I’ve heard that players have been creating everyone from Sephiroth to Abraham Lincoln in the mode. Well, I went off and created my own original comic book characters!

Angel Ace

Hi there! Wanna spar?

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any aviator goggles in the medieval ages… what with flight being non-existent and all... the closest I could get was a futuristic visor-thingie that the programmers put in as a way of recreating another Namco character in the game. It’s a little odd looking, but the effect works, I think. I would have wanted to give her a long trailing scarf, but that one in the game unfortunately covers up half of her face, so I opted for the smaller scarf. No billowy cloth, but in the end it works, I think. Again, it’s even better to see Angel in action in the game, especially when she does some of the more high-flying, gravity-defying attacks and moves in the game. Pretty cool.

Agent K

There’s no mistaking that fierce, determined expression. Or that nice gap in her top.

Kai was easy to do, thanks to some specific parts like the leg bandage which just nails her look. The short hair with the bangs is also spot on. But if you think she looks great in a still, she’s even more dynamite in action. Give her a katana and she’s ALIVE. It’s quite thrilling to see Kai in full color and animation, and this is probably the closest I’ll get to seeing a live Agent K… unless I put my plan to have a live-model Kai cosplayer ready for the next K.I.A. comic release. Heh.

Vanya (from K.I.A.)

Vanya, as K.I.A. readers should know, is the cruel commander of KALI, and Kai's boss. The scar probably isn’t on the right eye, but what the heck… even I can’t remember where it is exactly all the time. Heh. The coat and dress she's wearing up in the pic is a bit too conservative for me... it's probably not a 'combat' outfit, which should be more in the line of what Kai wears (mmm). It should be cool to see her and Kai taking out their stress on each other. Maybe I can even do other K.I.A. characters, like the love-smitten Shikage or other SIVA or KALI agents?

Gregor the Wolf

I'm getting too old for this...

And then. where there’s Angel, there should be Gregor. It would be cool to see them actually sparring together, I thought. So here he is! He probably wouldn’t approve of the balding hair though… but it’s really the closest thing aside from really cropped. Couldn’t find a trechcoat, but I think it works. Heh.

I could have gone on and tried doing Mike and Rip, but they’re strictly non-combatants. Maybe one of these days I’ll do Kunoichi Boy CAS characters too. So, what’s the best thing to do with Angel and Kai in Soul Calibur III? Pit them against each other and finally see who’s really the better fighter, of course! Heh. What can I say? Soul Calibur III ROCKS! Heh.

Okay, back to work…

Friday, November 4

Sick as a Dog

I've been down for the past few days all week. Haven't been out of The Sanctum at all, be it for work or play. My body clock got all weirded out, then I caught a bad bug and my muscles got sore. The result? Haven't been able to do much save just sleep. I haven't been able to finish stuff, and that sucks. I'm going to have to pedal faster to finish requirements. Well, what can I say? I'm only human. Well, I hope there's still time to do what has to be done. All I can promise is to try my best.
Initial Dub

I've never really liked cars... not that I don't appreciate them, of course, but I've never really gotten that thrill of seeing a new car for the beauty or the desire to own one. I just see them as a means to go around. But if someone gifted me with a car, I'd be pretty happy. Heh.
Anyway, the point is that as a non-car lover, I would probably NEVER like the car-racing anime series, Initial D. Even just seeing the show for a few seconds doesn't do it for me... the art is UGLY (perhaps it is fitting that the cars look nicer than any of the people), and looks count a lot in anime for me. Then, there's the recent much-hyped release of the title on local Animax. The show had been dubbed by local talents- particularly young racing champ Matteo Guidecelli (who plays the lead guy) and Angel Locsin, actress and former 'Darna' star. The result? As far as everyone in an anime group I know is concerned, the local dub is horrible.
It's not that tagalog isn't good... a totally Filipino dub would not suck- I have heard shows on the new anime channel Hero dubbed in tagalog and they don't come off bad or jarring at all. What makes the Initial D dub suck is that its in TAGLISH. Irritatingly, droningly so. Everyone seems to speak like some monotone, robot kolehiyala, alternating between Filipino lines and 'high-sounding' english. It really sounds so fake, or just bad. Mr. Guidecelli may be a great driver, but that doesn't necessarily make him a fit voice actor. And as for Angel Locsin... well, someone on a mailing list put it best... Miss Locsin is better seen than heard.

Oh well. Whatever. Let the show go as it will, and just go another road.

Wednesday, November 2

High Calibur

The Soul still burns!

Over the weekend I got a copy of Soul Calibur III, and DAMN it's pretty cool. The latest and greatest chapter of Namco's best-selling weapons fighter mixes in lots of new stuff into the tried-and-tested recipe, including new fighters and new modes of play aplenty.
Yet again, the evil Soul Edge is endangering the midieval world. Even though the sword of darkness has been sealed by its former host, the cursed knight Siegfried, a new Nightmare is walking the land and sowing terror. Behind the scenes, sinister forces are working to free the power of Soul Edge. As before, the familiar cast of warriors, assassins, martial artists and freaks of nature engage in battle to tip the scales of balance to either good or evil ends.

As before, SC3 gives you a large roster of fighters- pretty much everyone who has appeared in Soul Calibur's previous chapters. There are three totally new players: Revenge-seeking Setsuka is a fierce woman dressed in an ornate kimono and platform clogs who wields an umbrella with a concealed blade. The cute but creepy Tira can be described as a sprite from hell- this razor-hula hoop-wielding assassin serves Soul Edge with great gusto, searching for a body for the evil sword to control. Finally, Zasalamel is a scythe-wielding mystery man who is trying to move the events around the War of Swords to his own enigmatic agenda. All three are pretty cool and fit right in with the old crew.

The other new stuff in SC3 are the Modes of Play; there are tons of these, though the most important are Tales of Souls, Chronicle of the Sword and Character Creation.
Tales of Souls is, basically, a revamped Story Mode. What distinguishes it from other games' prime modes is a lot of text, a 'Choose your own adventure' type of interface which leads you to various fights and paths, and several interactive cut scenes which may directy impact on your upcoming fight or even on the ending you see.
While it sounds great on paper, there are flaws in this new execution- many of the story scenes are shared between many characters, so it may grow repetitive fast. Sometimes, the scenes or text just get in the way of you wanting to get to the next fight fast. Still, the text does make the mode feel like a journey for the characters instead of just a succession of fights. All in all, a great way to freshen up the old Story Mode.

Chronicle of Sword is an all-new animal: It's a game-within-a-game, an RTS (Real-time Strategy) game crossed with the regular SC-style of combat. You create characters who start off as cadets in the army of one of three warring nations, and then see their destinies through in various campaigns where you move mostly on a large map. You send your tiny warriors around to assault enemy strongholds, duel with enemy soldiers and generally try to take over everything on the board. What keeps this from being epic is the fact that you only control several 'units', each of which is really just one person (hardly a vast army). When units meet, they start hacking away at each other RTS style, but you can zoom in and actually engage in the usual round of SC combat (often this is required).
Despite the Suikoden-like story, this is really just a novelty, and not perfectly executed. There are jarring loading times and awkward bits which just throw off the pace of the game, and it's really just the Story Mode where you actually have to wait for your guys to run to a fight before you actually get to fight. Still, you have to like the mode for it's ambitions, and you really have to play it (since you need the money you earn in it to unlock stuff).

Did I mention money? Yes, you earn a lot of gold from playing through TOS and COS, money that you will use to unlock stuff in the game's 'shops'. These unlockables include stuff to customize your Created Characters, alternate weapons, illustrations, videos and other goodies. There are literally hundreds of things to find, so you'll be playing the modes a LOT.

As for the much-talked about Character Creation mode, it pretty much rocks. Yes, it's not really 'Create-a-character' as it is 'Dress-up-a-character' though. There are several designated or set occupations for characters, and you build either a male or female character from these jobs. This is fine though... it's cool to recreate characters from other games or titles, or just make the warrior of your dreams. All the Custom Classes have their own moves and strategies, although most, if not all, are based on the skills of the regular SC cast (Samurai are of course a variation or extension of Mitsurugi, Ninja are based on Taki, etc). Still, the new classes are sufficiently different to make for interesting battles. And of course, the animations and new attacks are a treat to see.
Yes, you can dress up the girls as skimpily as you want... and the guys too, if that floats your boat. No, I haven't tried making a female bikini fighter using Voldo's style... yet.

Graphically, the game is pretty gorgeous; it's not a great leap from the previous SC2, but it's really something that pushes the PS2. The character models are finely-detailed and smoothly animated, though there is a noticeably less quality given to the Custom Characters than to the regular SC cast. Still, this is probably the nicest-looking Create-a-character mode in any game, including all those wrestling games. I hpe this sets a precedent for other future fighting games (Mmm... create your own DOA girl...)

In terms of sound, SC3 is special in that all the voices are in english (we got the US version first). The voices are generally well-done, though the occasional odd delivery is there, including a really bad new voice for fan favorite Ivy. The music is your usual Soul Calibur- lots of heroic scores aplenty.

Oh and one more thing... the game, at normal level, can get fricking HARD. Every now and then, the CPU A.I. throws a fighter at you that just blocks everything you throw at it, uses every powerful combo and rings you out at every opportunity. It CAN get hair-tearingly frustrating, especially if you're going for that all-perfect streak to unlock the secret end boss. Well, it does challenge you to get better at the game, but come on... it's not unusual to go 20-to-nothing against some of these CPU opponents.

All in all, Soul Calibur III pleases with its abundance of new modes, tons of unlockables, great base graphics, sounds, animation and gameplay, and all-around high quality of gaming. This should keep players busy for weeks and weeks, and deserves to be in every PS2 gamers library as the console's last great fighting game. What are you guys waiting for? Dust off those katana and start slashing!

Monday, October 31

Happy Halloween!

It's that time of the year again, when kids go around the subdivision dressed in crazy costumes, when the movie channels show all scary movies, when all thoughts turn to the creepy. Yep, it's Halloween! Well, actually it all just means a nice short break for me. Thanks to your crappy government, we don't have the whole week off- the break will be interrupted by two days of work, then another long weekend. I'll try to finish up Samurai Sis today and tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll also be getting some playtime on some new gaming acquisitions. Heh. Anyway, I've shacked up in The Sanctum with sodas, Gonuts Donuts and some chips to last a short siege. All the better to keep the spooks out. May you all have a frighteningly good Halloween!