Prior to Soul Calibur IV, I had not yet played an entry in the series. In fact, at the time of playing the fourth installment, I had never really delved into the fighting game genre, aside from casually playing Street Fighter as a kid. The past two years have been amazing to the fighting community, with the growing availability of games like Street Fighter, Tekken, and King of Fighters. However, is Soul Calibur V another welcome addition to the return in popularity of fighting games or is it the beginning of the end?
Soul Calibur V has made many additions and changes this time around, but probably the most notable among those changes are those to fighting system. Unlike Soul Calibur IV, V does away with all of the old meters it had introduced in previous titles, and unveils a new “super meter” that can be charged to use EX-like or Super-like moves. In addition, armor can still be broken, just as it could in Soul Calibur IV, but now it does not affect the player in any way.
Although some core mechanics were changed, Soul Calibur still feels like a spam-fest, at heart. AI users even degrade themselves to using the same moves over and over in order to win. Of course, people that become more adept and comfortable with the fighting system will prevail, but without any sort of tutorial, it proves to be difficult for newcomers to learn the ropes. Nevertheless, there is training mode, after all, to learn the basics and improve your skill the old-fashioned way.
Additionally, some of our favorite returning characters move-sets have been altered, while some have remained generally the same. I’m sure these changes were made to further balance the game. However, fans may react negatively, if their main character of choice doesn’t play how they’re use to.
[+Old Meters Replaced By “Super Meter”][+Armor No Longer Affects Player][*Returning Characters Move-Sets Altered] [-No Tutorial][-Basic Game Modes][-Spammer Friendly Game]
I want to spend very little time discussing the story, because frankly this area has never been a strong-suit for most fighting games, Soul Calibur included. In addition, before I get into the plot, understand that this is probably one of the most one-dimensional story-lines I’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing.
In Soul Calibur V, you play as Protokolos, heir to the title of holy warrior, a character who’s role is barely explained other than the fact that he has been commissioned by some other guy named Dumas to kill the “Malfested,” people infected by Soul Edge, and that he is the son of Sophitia from previous entries in the series. Still follow? Dumas, who I’m going to refer to as Dum, offers Patrokolos (Pat) the whereabouts of his sister, if he finds the infamous wielder of the ring blade, Tira, who has actually kidnapped his sister. Then a bunch of other pointless characters are introduced, who have no bearing on the plot at all, Dum ends up being Nightmare, Pat is then deemed the “chosen one,” then the writers stopped caring about clearly explaining what the hell is going on.
The words “barely explained” define everything about the story. Sure, you can understand some of what’s going on, but if you were hoping for at least a little bit of depth, look elsewhere. Mind you, the story takes about two to three hours to complete, so there wasn’t much room to tell such a “grand” story at all. Even so, the writers crammed a huge plot into twenty short chapters, that felt as though they were rushed.
The voice acting can simply be described as “decent” at most. Characters, on occasion, over exaggerate and/or overemphasize their lines of dialog. Just like the story, the dialog barely makes any sense, while constantly repeating words like: Soul, Malfested, Honor, and Sword throughout the entire campaign. Not to mention, how often the announcer mix-matches those words before each battle in nearly any game mode.
Aesthetically, however, the game really shines. Cinematic cut-scenes, character models, and level designs are all vibrant, crisp, and gorgeous. Something that has always been a strength for Soul Calibur. Furthermore, animations in both cut-scenes and during gameplay are very fluid and smooth. Moreover, loading times are very short, more so if you choose the option to install the game to your hard drive. As an example, you can probably start a match in a little over a few seconds from the main title screen, if you choose your character quickly enough. Seriously.
[+Aesthetically Gorgeous][+Virtually No Loading Time][+Fluid Animations][*Average Voice Acting][-Story Lacks Depth and Explains Very Little][-Dialog Barely Makes Sense][-Story 2-3 Hours Long]
Soul Calibur V proves its worth through its large roster with varied fighters, deep character customization, and its flawless online play. There are tons of unlockables waiting for you at every turn. Unfortunately, I found there wasn’t a notification to let you know when you’ve unlocked a new title or item for character customization. Nonetheless, if you spend as much time as I do on creating new characters, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Included, is a fairly large roster featuring 28 fighters. Among them are newcomers like Patroklos, and old favorites like Ivy. The most noteworthy of the newcomers is the addition of Assasins Creed’s protagonist Ezio Auditore. There aren’t enough words to describe how much of a badass he is.
The Creation mode, which is more than likely the best part of Soul Calibur V, almost gives you full-reign to customize characters to your pleasing. From character height, to muscle tone, to the color of the equipment you’ve chosen, most everything can be customized to your liking. You can also customize the outfits and weapons of the standard characters, in addition to creating your own. The depth of the Creation mode more than makes up for the rest of the games shortcomings.
Online play is available including ranked and unranked matches that set you against players in your chosen region. Also in the online section there is a new mode named Global Colosseo, which is basically a lobby in which you can move your character card around, chat with people, and join in on matches to play or spectate. It’s an interesting concept, but not much different than lobby full of chat rooms.
With the exception of a new game mode named “Legendary Souls,” which is basically a harder version of Arcade mode, there isn’t much variety when it comes to game modes. With games like Mortal Kombat having been released last year jam-packed with myriad of game modes and match types, you’d think Namco would have followed suit with this title.
[+Very Deep Character Customization][+Large Roster][+Ezio Is A Badass][+Online Code Flawless][+Lots of Unlockables][*“Grand Colosseo” Mode Interesting, But Not New][-No Notification for Unlocks][-Basic Game Modes]
Overall, I think that Soul Calibur V is a great game for fans of the Soul Calibur series. Having played Soul Calibur IV almost 4 years ago, I’ve nearly forgotten how the game was played, and because there wasn’t a game mode or tutorial to reteach me the basics, I’ve had trouble trying to get use to the game again. Obviously, I can just learn through training mode, but I don’t understand why there wouldn’t be something for people new to the series, or even fighting games in general.
If you want a game with a good story, go elsewhere. Even though it was only 2 hours long, I had difficulty trying to complete the main story, due to how awful it was. It felt like a chore having to sit through the countless plot holes, cliche lines of dialog, and the utterly unexplained story.
If you’re in the middle about this game even after this review, just know that the character customization is one of the best parts of the game and deserves a lot of credit. If you’ve ever played games like Need For Speed or Midnight club, and get a kick out of customizing the visuals of your car, you’ll probably enjoy this game. If not, and you’re just looking for a balanced fighter, you may want to consider a different game, but there still might be something here for you.
I’m still having a lot of fun with Soul Calibur, mainly for the laughs I have with my friends when we create goofy characters, and smack-talk.
[+Old Meters Replaced By “Super Meter”][+Armor No Longer Affects Player][+Aesthetically Gorgeous][+Virtually No Loading Time][+Very Deep Character Customization][+Large Roster][+Ezio Is A Badass][+Fluid Animations][+Character Creation Mode][+Online Code Flawless][+Lots of Unlockables][*Returning Characters Move-Sets Altered][*Average Voice Acting][*“Grand Colosseo” Mode Interesting, But Not New][-No Tutorial][-Basic Game Modes][-Spammer Friendly Game][-Story Lacks Depth and Explains Very Little][-Dialog Barely Makes Sense][-Story 2-3 Hours Long][-No Notification for Unlocks][-Basic Game Modes]