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NTSC box art for the game, depicting characters Mitsurugi and Ivy in the background, Zasalamel in the front, and Nightmare in the logo
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2:
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players simultaneously, for up to 8 players total in a League mode|
|Arcade system||Namco System 246|
Soulcalibur III (ソウルキャリバーIII SōruKyaribā Surī?) is a fighting game produced by Namco as a sequel to Soulcalibur II and the fourth installment in the Soul series. It was originally released exclusively for the PlayStation 2 in 2005. An improved arcade version, Soulcalibur III: Arcade Edition, was released in 2006.
The game includes new modes such as Tales of Souls, an interactive story-driven mode comparable to Edge Master Mode from Soul Edge; Character Creation, in which players can create custom characters from 13 total occupations, with multiple weapons and fighting styles; and Chronicles of the Sword, a real-time-play mode that allows players to take their created souls through adventures of their own. The game also has the largest character roster — 24 characters playable in Tales of Souls mode and an additional 18 playable in all other modes — and largest battle stage selection in Soul series history.
The Character Creation Mode allows the player to choose from several classes, clothing and armor, and physical features. Most of the classes can use up to five disciplines, three of which are unique, and two of which are "Soul of ..." disciplines: an exact replica of a main story character's moves. The created fighter's personality can be altered, which influences their quotes and their actions during battle. However, the personality is chosen by the equipment the character wears, and not directly by the player.
The Soul Arena is a mode that allows both the eight-match Quick Play (the standard Arcade Mode of the game), which is light on story and allows a speedy confrontation with Abyss, as well as the pre-defined Missions which include variations on the standard matches. There is a World Competition mode created to simulate tournament rounds (of either eliminations or Round Robin) against the CPU.
The Tales of Souls mode is presented as a book, narrating the selected character's story in detail during various chapters. The player can input button combos when an icon appears in the top right-hand corner during cut scene movies. The cut scenes can have different outcomes depending on whether the player successfully inputs the sequence. During movies that precede a battle after the cut scene ends, not inputting the code could result in the player starting the subsequent battle with a disadvantageous effect.
Although Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Dead or Alive series all supported online play, Soulcalibur III does not. The game's producer Hiroaki Yotoriyama said "At the current time, the online infrastructure is extremely different between countries, and there are people that can not enjoy network gaming. We've decided to concentrate on improving the game's offline content and its characters so that people all over the world will be able to have fun."
Chronicles of the Sword
Chronicles of the Sword is a one-player mode. The objective is to make a character using the custom character creation system and play it through a story. It begins with the player starting out as a rookie commander for the Grandall Empire. There are 20 chronicles, or levels, each one getting harder than the last. The basis is the player's troops are minimized and they move like board game pieces. The player must fight the enemies and take their strongholds scattered through the level. When two enemies on the map are fighting, the player could have them slash each other on their own or duel it out Soulcalibur style. Winning the chronicles results in a certain amount of gold, depending on how well the player did. As the characters fight, they gain levels, and become stronger. Sometimes the standard characters may be found in strongholds or standing and they are always level 60 (Olcadan and Abyss, however, do not appear). As the story progresses the player also gain some pre-made characters that can be controlled.
The plot places the player's character in the role of a young cadet of the Grandall Empire, who is chosen to lead the war against its neighboring countries, Halteese and Dalkia. As the player proceeds in their campaign, taking territories and forcing enemy troops back, they start to realize the true meaning of war and the reason they fight, eventually discovering the true enemies of their country. Throughout the chronicles, the player gains many rewards. Most character's ultimate weapons (the weapons with four effects) are obtained throughout the story. The player can also unlock more armor, faces, disciplines, etc. for custom characters. If the player starts Chronicles of the Sword after certain weapon disciplines have been unlocked, the character may use those during battle.
Nearly all characters who have been featured in a Soul series title in the past return, except for Inferno, Necrid, Seong Han-myeong, Edge Master and the console-exclusive Soulcalibur II guest characters (Heihachi, Link, and Spawn). Soulcalibur II's mimic character Charade does return in a non-playable form, as do the generic Lizardmen.
Unlockable characters include personnel in the Chronicles of the Sword, opponents from the Tales of Souls mode, and the weapon, armor, and item shop owners. In the Character Creation mode, players can re-create Kos-Mos from the Xenosaga series.
This game takes place shortly after the events of Soulcalibur II, meaning that the year is still 1591. The amount of time is not specified, but taking into account the various characters' profiles, a minimum of four months has already passed (one month Xianghua needed to carry Kilik back to his master's hermit, three months that took Kilik to surpass his master's training).
The wicked Soul Edge survived its fated encounter with the wielder of Soulcalibur, Xianghua, and restored its control over the body of Siegfried Schtauffen, turning him back into the Azure Knight Nightmare. Four years later, Nightmare was about to restore Soul Edge, when suddenly a man named Raphael appeared, intending on taking Soul Edge. Nightmare defeated the attacker, but was distracted by Siegfried's latent will trying to restore his body. Using the distraction, Raphael pierced Soul Edge's eye, giving Siegfried the edge he needed to break free from Soul Edge's control once again.
After waking up, Siegfried found the holy sword, free from its entrapment within the wicked sword, and out of instinct used it to pierce Soul Edge. The result led to both swords sealed together in a fateful embrace, an "Embrace of Souls". Siegfried took both weapons and started a quest to find a definitive way of sealing Soul Edge, but memories of his slaughters, plus the attacks of those resentful of the Azure Knight, drove his mind towards insanity. Unbeknownst to him, the evil soul of the blade escaped and obtained a temporary shell, starting a new killing spree to strengthen himself while seeking its body, Soul Edge.
What neither of the two warriors knows is that a man behind the scenes is controlling their steps, searching to end an everlasting curse. And that many other warriors ventured in search of the blade as well.
The console version of the game was first released in North America on October 25, 2005. A soundtrack for the game was released as Soulcalibur III Original Soundtrack - Legend of Sounds. Two guide books were released in Japan in November-December 2005: Famitsu's Soul Calibur III Starting Guide Book and Namco's own Soul Calibur III Official Complete Guide.
Soulcalibur III: Arcade Edition
Soulcalibur III: Arcade Edition is a re-tuned and glitch-fixed version of Soulcalibur III that was first released in the arcades on April 3, 2006. Almost the entire cast from the home version returns as playable characters except Abyss, who is now a non-playable boss character alongside Night Terror. From the 17 bonus characters only three made it into the arcade: Hwang Seong-gyeong, Li Long and Amy Sorel, who have been reworked and expanded into more deep playing styles. The total roster of the arcade ascends to 27 selectable characters.
The game has three different modes: Training Mode, where one can try the characters' moves for a set time; Standard Mode, which is a traditional arcade mode with nine battles in a row, without cut scenes or endings; and Legends Mode, a complex eight-round mode based upon the creation of and competition between customized characters with accumulated skills taken from the home version's Chronicles of the Sword mode, such as increased stamina or the ability to automatically escape grapples.
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The game has generally positive reviews with an aggregate score of 86/100 on Metacritic. IGN lauded it for its "stunning environment" and "charming characters" but thought that the game could use more diverse sound effects. GameSpot praised the "fun, fast-paced gameplay" but criticized the lack of online play.
- E3 2005 Game Critics Awards: Best Fighting Game
- E3 2005 GameSpot Awards: Best Fighting Game
- IGN: Best Fighting Game of 2005
Collectible card game
Soulcalibur III is part of the Universal Fighting System collectible card game, created by Sabertooth Games and later published by Fantasy Flight Games. It was one of the official founding franchises of the card game, next to Street Fighter, when the game was released April 2006. UFS has seen five expansions based on Soulcalibur III's characters and history.
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