Soulcalibur V

Soulcalibur V
7.3 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Gameplay: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10

Great looking visuals | Variety of characters to choose from | New gameplay mechanics | Character creation | Challenging yet rewarding online gameplay

Short and uninteresting story mode | Blocking seems rather pointless at times | Some favorite characters are missing | Huge learning curve for newcomers who want to compete online

Game Info

DEVELOPER(S): Project Soul

PUBLISHER(S): Namco Bandai Games

PLATFORM(S): PS3, Xbox 360

GENRE(S): Action

RELEASE DATE(S): January 31, 2012

ScreenshotsVideos

Project Soul and Namco Bandai Games have recently brought us the sixth installment of the Soulcalibur franchise and it is only the second one to include online gameplay. Soulcalibur has always been one of the accomplished fighting franchises alongside Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs Capcom, and Street Fighter, but have any new features been released that may increase or decrease its longevity? Let us look at how Soulcalibur has captured gamers in the past, and how they will continue to do so with Soulcalibur V.

Enter the world of Soulcalibur. It is the 17th Century, 17 years after the conclusion of Soulcalibur IV, and the protagonist, Patroklos, finds himself searching for his sister who was abducted at an early age by a malfested that wielded a ring blade weapon. Along this path of re-discovery, Patroklos is ordered by a man named Graf Dumas, who informs him of his sister’s whereabouts, about how the malfested are responsible for the evil that plagues the lands, and how order cannot be established with either the malfested or Soul Edge present. Patroklos then joins forces with Z.W.E.I. and Siegfried and eventually comes in contact with Pyrrha, Patroklos’ sister. You learn that she is a malfested and even though she is your sister, you have to deal with both her and Nightmare, the current wielder of Soul Edge.

The visuals in Soulcalibur V brings the battlefields to life. The opening cutscene shows Siegfried as he battles Nightmare, illustrating the struggle between good versus evil. The detail on both characters and objects bring about a more captivating environment to fight in. Several maps also have actions unfolding in the background, be it a festival, naval ships firing cannons, an army sieging a fortification, or a giant being captured, all offering an immersive fighting experience. At times it may seem difficult to follow your characters’ actions due to both the fast pace of the combat and the beautiful and vivid settings that are presented. Even though the battles are, for the most part, fast paced, both the character and weapon animations are very fluid and offer a fighting experience that is among the best released to date.

The music presented throughout the game is presented extraordinarily well as they match the locations that are depicted in each map. My attention was grabbed, however, by the music that is presented during the mini map in the single-player campaign. It almost sounds identical to the music from the Game of Thrones TV show opening. At first I was a little worried about the quality of the voice acting, but to my surprise it was not that annoying. The dialogue however, was rather silly at times, for example, “I hunger for your soul!” and “you are a good fighter, but I’m a superb one!” While it is comical, it does get annoying quickly.

As noted above, the single-player story mainly follows the struggle of Patroklos as he tries to find Pyrrha’s whereabouts. There are a few fights where you play as both Z.W.E.I. and Pyrrha, but the majority of them are fought as Patroklos. The inability to play the story mode as any other character is disappointing. It would have been nice to have at least two or three separate story lines that we could play through. The other issue pertaining to the story mode is its length. I was able to complete it in two hours without skipping any cutscenes. The artistic approach that they chose to portray the majority of the story was also disappointing. The visuals during both gameplay and the cutscenes are stunning, and yet they chose to use a comic book style to communicate the majority of the story. The CPU artificial intelligence is fairly easily for the majority of the story mode, but the last few fights, Nightmare, Elysium, and Pyrrha, prove to be rather difficult. If you are unable to beat any character during story mode, there is an option of lowering the difficulty upon being defeated.

A new feature to Soulcalibur V is the critical meter gauge. You are able to perform brave edge and critical edge attacks, and even guard impacts with the critical meter. While these attacks are more powerful, they do take some time for the gauge to fill up, but they more often than not turn the tides of battle when used. Parrying attacks now utilizes the gauge as well, no longer being free as it was in previous releases. Paying attention to your gauge meter and knowing the defensive and attack moves that utilize it will make a big difference during gameplay, against both the CPU or online.

Any newcomer to the Soulcalibur franchise can easily pick up a controller and engage opponents. However, after a short period of gameplay they will notice that the combat system is rather complex. The training mode is the best way to master any character. The feature of being able to side-step and move around your opponent on the map makes it easier to avoid certain attacks. Avoid fighting too close to the side of the map as you can be knocked out of the ring, resulting in a knock out. Blocking enemy attacks can sometimes prove to be cumbersome. You will often notice a delay with the amount of time it takes your character to block, or that blocking altogether does not halter attacks from certain enemies.

You have the option of thirty-one characters to choose from this time around, including Ezio Auditore from the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Yes, some characters that were in Soulcalibur IV have been removed, but there are also some new additions. The characters that are not included from the previous installment are: Amy, Cassandra, Hong Yun-seong, Rock, Seong Han-myeong, Setsuka, Sophitia, Taki, Talim, Xianghua, and Zasalamel. New characters include Damnpierre (exclusive), Edge Master, Elysium, Leixia, Natsu, Patroklos, Pyrrha, Viola, Xiba, and Z.W.E.I. You will notice some similarities between the new characters and those who were not included.

The game modes that you can play in Soulcalibur V are arcade, versus, training, legendary souls, quick battle, and online. Arcade sets you against six consecutive combatants and then records your time upon completion. Versus is where you can play against either the CPU or a friend. Training is an essential mode where you can fully develop each character’s skills, and should be completed before venturing off to the realms of online play. The strategic depth is complex as mastering character’s controls will take some practice. Even if you think you know most of the moves, chances are you are incorrect as Soulcalibur V offers countless attacks for each character. Legendary souls is definitely the most difficult offline mode where you are pitted against enemies with the highest difficulty level. Frustration may reach its highest peak in this mode, but it is also good training before going online. Quick battle simply puts you against a CPU quickly, as the name entails. Online play is the shining star of Soulcalibur V, but it is also a negative feature for both the game, and all online fighting games alike, to those who are simply not as skilled. While the online experience is enjoyable, more often than not you will find yourself against an opponent that will knock you out in one long continuous combo before you can even move or block. This is not to lead people away from fighting games that offer online play, but it is, however, a reality. Hardcore Soulcalibur fans will kick your backside before you can even press start and exit the game. You also receive points for each battle you play online, win or loose, and can level up.

 

Character creation has returned in this installment of Soulcalibur, offering more customizable features than before. You can change facial features, height, body type, equipment, fighting style, colours and patterns on equipment, voices and their pitch, and you can create a thumbnail of your character. There are a lot of choices available for you to create your own personalized fighter. You can also create some extremely ridiculous looking characters.

Project Soul and Namco Bandai Games continues to offer an excellent fighting experience in this most recent installment of Soulcalibur. While some features have been removed, others have been added, which still present a thoroughly enjoyable game. The story mode is on the short side, but the other offline modes and online play surely make up for it. Having the ability to create your own character and bring him to the fields of online combat is very rewarding. Overall, the distinct fighting mechanics presented in Soulcalibur V offers countless hours of fun. Newcomers…training mode is your friend.

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Author: Dave View all posts by