Developer: Project Soul
Publisher: Namco Bandai
After a two-year-plus wait, Soul Calibur is back with the fifth installment in the franchise: Soul Calibur V. Weaponized 3D-fighting platformers have separated this particular franchise from others, and with this installment, the developers have adopted a few features from other fighting games, while still adding some of their own surprises and twists. Is Soul Calibur V a cut above the other fighting games or does this sword have a dull edge? Here’s the review.
My Blade Is Angry
As a first time Soul Calibur player, I knew of the series as the fighting game with swords. Along with a 3D-platform to fight on, the series is based on picking your spots on both offense and defense. “Brave Edge” and “Critical Edge” attacks are built up with a separate meter. As a new player, I found the overall control scheme simple to pick up; however, there is a bit of a learning curve to the special moves. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does take away from the game, considering other titles have modified their controls to a more simplified scheme.
Story Time and Online
The story mode in the game takes place 17 years after the events of Soul Calibur IV. The main protagonist is Patroklos and his sister, Pyrrha. The player will play as both, but will play as Patroklos more. The story mode itself has 24 chapters, each with one fight, aside from a few exceptions that have one round fights with three different enemies. The other single-player modes include an arcade mode where you fight six opponents in timed events; however, separate character stories and endings are not a part of this mode, or even in the game at all. Online modes consist of ranked and unranked matches, and the action isn’t slowed down by the servers very much, if at all.
Hack and Smash
The overall look of the game is best described as vibrant. A majority of the costumes are colorful, as are the environments, which also have some interaction and gradual changes in the background. Armor can break, pick up dust from the floor, and even visually break away. There is a great deal of fluidity in the gameplay and environments, which meshes very well together.
From the clash of metal on metal, to the announcer (who has an oddly soothing voice), Soul Calibur V has a fantastic soundtrack. While the music isn’t the aggressive rock found in most other fighting games, it does work very well for the overall feel of this game. Soul Calibur V is more of a thinking gamer’s fighting game, where patience is most definitely a virtue, and the soundtrack plays into that mentality.
The Double Edged Sword
Saying Soul Calibur V is a thinking gamer’s fighting game isn’t necessarily saying that it’s a slow-paced game. In fact, it’s anything but. When I say that, I actually mean Soul Calibur V is more about the technique of fighting with your sword. Choosing between vertical and horizontal attacks and dividing that between high and low adds a lot of depth to the game. As with all games, knowing when and where to block is crucial.
While the fighting mechanics are deep, the actual features of the game aren’t Online players will have their usual fun, but for single-player gamers, the story mode is very short. On top of that, the story mode doesn’t do much to teach the gamer how to play the game. Also, the cutscenes in the game consist of storyboards with voice overs and sound effects, which comes as a bit of a disappointment after the opening cutscene of the game. The arcade mode leaves a lot to be desired; however, if a player should want to hone their skills before playing online, it is fine for that.
I would consider Soul Calibur V a good game with depth issues. A few more modes for single-player gamers and a few different types of online matches would work well for the next installment in the franchise. While Soul Calibur V doesn’t necessarily take a step back from the previous games, it also doesn’t do anything revolutionary to separate itself from previous installments or other fighting games.
The look of the game is top notch. Fabrics move with the character and with the wind in victory poses. The fighting in the game is simple to pick up, but is VERY difficult to master. Those dedicated to the game will eventually learn how to use their favorite characters effectively and will find the combat satisfying. Also, the “outsider” character, Ezio Auditore is well represented. The developers made great use of the close-range and outside combat options by using weapons from the Assassin’s Creed series.
In the end, I would recommend Soul Calibur V to the core fans of the series that love to play online. For newcomers, it’s more of a rental to see if you’re into it. For fighting game fans, it’s worth a try. Invite some friends, try it online, and enjoy.
Final Verdict: Soul Calibur V gets 7 sword slashing victories out of 10
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Soul Calibur V by Namco Bandai.