SoulCalibur V Review: A Lot Of Major Changes Yet The Soul Still Burns

Posted: February 3, 2012 in Now Playing (Video Game Reviews)
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Pros:
The 3D fighting mechanics are well done and much improved over the previous versions
Fantastic visuals
Character Customization is better than ever
Multiplayer is fantastic

Cons:
Single player game modes are lacking
Story Mode is short and boring
No character endings in Arcade Mode

“Chosen by history, a man becomes a warrior. Engraved into history, a warrior becomes a hero.”

Seventeen years have past since the last duel for the fabled soul swords between mere mortals along with some guests from a galaxy far, far away. Now they return again with the fire to wield their sword of choice. Destiny will be foretold. Legends will be made. The epic tale of souls and swords continues once again and the soul still burns in SoulCalibur V on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

SoulCalibur V, the sixth title in Namco’s “Soul Series” follows the tale of Patroklos, son of Sophitia, who’s on a quest to save his sister Pyrrah. Of course he’s also on a quest for the mystical blade Soul Calibur. I wonder which quest is more important to him? Honestly, the story is not going to matter that much to you, because it’s not the driving reason to purchase this game. You’ll want it for the amazing 3D weapon based fighting action, or maybe it’s because you wanted to stare at Ivy’s amazing rack. Either way it’s a win/win situation.

Being a fan of the Soul series since Soul Edge in the arcades, I was always amazed by the 3D weapon based fighting action. Sure the characters didn’t bleed out like some other games I’ve played including Bushido Blade and Deadliest Warrior, but the Soul series games had it’s own unique charm that immediately drew me in. Bad ass weapons, critical edge attacks, terrible English voiceovers, creating your own characters, and even the popular ring outs that drove everyone crazy in the arcades and in tournaments. The Soul series stood out from all the other fighters that clogged he market and that was a good thing. Ok, enough fanboy remarks. Let’s get back to the review.

So what’s so special about this game compared to the others in the series? Well for one thing there’s almost a complete overhaul in the cast. At least half the characters that have been mainstays in the series are gone and replaced by some fresh blood. Some are pretty original while others are more of a new face yet same weapon style of previous characters. The new faces really change things up and keep the series entertaining, but there are times where I’d rather have more of the fighters I’m used to using. Fans are already complaining about the lack of favorites, but I’m ok with the changes.

Guest characters are also back as well, but this time don’t expect any lightsabers and force powers. Ezio Auditore, from the hit Assassin’s Creed series, makes an appearance in SoulCalibur V and let me tell you that he really fits in with this cast rather than Spawn, Heihachi, Darth Vader, The Apprentice, and the “broken” Yoda. I’m really impressed with Ezio’s moves as well as incorporating his weapons like the crossbow and hidden blades to make it authentic. Controlling Ezio is like painting a work of art. He’s so fluid in his movements and keeps a good pace on the action unlike the slow Vader or overpowered Apprentice.

There’s also been a big change on the fighting department via the use of super moves ala Street Fighter. Branded as Brave and Critical Edge, these super moves help turn the tide of the fight and they look pretty cool as well. These super moves are based around a meter by your character’s life gauge. As the meter builds up you could then choose to use a Brave Edge consuming a half level of the meter, or use the Critical Edge and consume one full level of the meter. No more pain in the ass Critical Edges like what we had in SoulCalibur IV. While I do like the use of these moves there’s a part of me who feels that this has already been done in other fighting games. Was this really necessary? Not really, but they’re still fun to use when your in a pinch and your opponent is spamming you with the same two or three moves using Kilik.

Creating characters is also back this time around and this means it’s time to use your imagination to come up with some stylish, sexy and even wacky off the wall characters, or just make some new outfits for the existing fighters. Once again you can expect quite a bit of time being spent here. There’s so many items to equip along with colors and patterns to work with. The possibilities are endless, so you can expect some message boards as well as YouTube videos filled with created fighters. I’m sure you can expect some pop culture favorites like Kratos, Shredder, Ryu Hayabusa, Dante, Altair, some Mortal Kombat characters, superheroes, and a host of others (I’ve seen some already). While creating popular favorites are cool, I wish more gamers would just go outside the box and get crazy. That’s what I’m doing.

Now everything in this game is not as great as you want it to be. I do have a few gripes. One would be he fact that there is a severe lack of gameplay modes for single player. Some of you might think I’m crazy talking about single player, but think about it. SoulCalibur always had quite a few single player modes like Mission Mode or even the Tower of Lost Souls. Here your given Quick Fight, Arcade and Story Mode (starring only one character). Don’t get me started on Legendary Souls, because that mode is a real pain in the ass to complete. Also, there are no character endings whatsoever. Now that’s just plain lazy. Every fighting game including previous SoulCalibur games had endings for every fighter even if you never really cared about the storyline.

While the single player may not be to everyone’s liking the multiplayer will have you wanting to play for quite awhile. Lobbies have been set to talk to other players as well as challenge one another. Tournament options have also been added for expert players to showcase their talents. I will say that he online portion of SoulCalibur V is brilliant. It runs great with no lag issues plus you’ll find plenty of trash talking noobs to destroy.

So what else can I really say about SoulCalibur V? Sure the Story Mode is not very good, but then again when we all played Mortal Kombat the idea of what a story mode should be got us all spoiled on that notion. Yes, it’s missing a lot of single player options which sucks, but maybe it’s time to take your talents (or lack thereof) online for some real action. Maybe the characters are a bit unbalanced (like Nightmare), bit give it a couple of updates and everything will be ok. SoulCalibur V may not be the best game in the series, but it’s far from the worst so don’t give in to all the negativity as of late. The fighting action is still top notch, the game is still fun, and it’s got Ezio Auditore. If your a fan then this is a buy. For everyone else might I suggest a rental or wait for a price drop.

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