REVIEW: Soul Calibur V (X360)
Title: Soul Calibur V
Platform: Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3
Developer: Project Soul
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
TL;DR: A half-animated Japanese fighting anime. No, seriously.
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It’s beautiful, and it has a lot of flashy stuff in it. Fans of previous Soul Calibur iterations will love this title. It does the fighting genre great justice (no, I seriously did not think before I said that), and could bring in new fans to an age-old series. However, all of the love is probably going to stop there.
Now, I’ll admit, I might be the most ill-equipped person to review this title as I’m not a huge fighting gamer. Maybe that puts me at an advantage. Who knows? All I know was that Ezio Auditore da Firenze is in this game, and it’s probably the most fitting guest character in any Soul Calibur to date. Well, minus Link in Soul Calibur II.
Project Soul does an amiable job in trying to expand the fighting game genre. Rather than simply engaging a bunch of mindless CPU characters in battles that have no context, we’re introduced to Patroklos, a brand new character to the Soul series. His story is that he wishes to rescue his sister, Pyrrha, from being a “malifested,” a person who has come in contact with the Soul Edge. A noble goal, but once Pyrrha opens her mouth to speak, you will wish that you never picked the game up. Ever.
If you think this quest might be easy, especially if you are a fighting game enthusiast, then you might want to consider turning off the voice effects. Pyrrha is one of the most irritating characters in all of gaming history, and I’m trying not to exaggerate when I say that.
I digress. First and foremost, the game was definitely banking on improved aesthetics. The colors are bright, the backgrounds are lovely. It’s definitely a step up from the good old days. The characters are lovingly detailed, and we won’t even mention the likes of Miss Ivy Valentine and her…er, physics.
One of the most welcome changes some players might like are improved controls. Even for a n00b like me, executing flashy moves wasn’t a big issue. The only learning curve is trying to remember what all the button combos were and which ones did the best kinds of damage. It certainly hasn’t been as hard as it has been in the past either. With a little time in Training Mode, even someone who usually button mashes can get the hang of things.
And like all previous Soul Calibur titles, this game is not wanting in playable modes. It has several — the Story Mode, Arcade Mode, Quick Battle Mode, and Training. Of course, let’s not forget that there’s a lot to unlock as you play the game.
Making its return is the fan-favorite Character Creation system. For those not familiar with what this is, it’s exactly what it sounds like — create your own character complete with the silliest outfits, props, tattoos, and scariest hair styles from the 80s. Creating your own character can be fun, and what’s even more fun is the ability to bring your character online to battle other people’s creations.
Sadly, this game is definitely not without its faults. In fact, depending on who you ask, this game has its fair share of faults. For one, many staple characters in the series don’t make a comeback. It’s almost like a slap in the face for diehard Soul enthusiasts, and Project Soul only seemed to address the issue by giving the new characters the same exact move set as their respective predecessors. They’re just not the beloved characters of old. Why? Perhaps it was an attempt to freshen things up a bit, but it certainly didn’t sit well with some fans. Sure, some entirely brand new characters like the fortune telling Viola appear, but it still won’t make a fig of a difference to fans who want their favorites of old to come back.
As if cutting mainstay characters out wasn’t enough of a bad start, the lack of cut scenes in Story Mode adds to the problems. In between battles, a moving cut scene was instead replaced with…a hand-drawn image. And terrible sound effects. Whether this was because of a lack of production money or what, it never is a good sign when your game starts to show signs of being on a low budget or poor planning. Indeed, the rest of the game is beautiful, but it made the entirety of the Story Mode seem almost (just barely) like an afterthought. Who wants to save a squealing and obnoxiously high-pitched girl anyway?
All in all, Soul Calibur V is definitely a love letter to all things of the fighting genre. Its gorgeous backdrops are complimented by the flashy moves of the fighters in the arena. Sadly, those of us that aren’t fans of the fighting genre will most likely pick the game up, try a few minutes of it, and put it right back down. However, enthusiasts of one-on-one fighting will definitely want to keep this one around.
Graphics have definitely been given a nice facelift. Players can pull off a variety of fancy moves with easy-to-learn button combos. Variety of unlockables and modes keep diehard fans coming back.
Story Mode seems almost like an after thought with a notable lack of animated cut-scenes. Be advised, absence of mainstay characters will cause anger.
Soul Calibur V is currently available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
With an ESRB rating of T and a PEGI 16 rating, you shouldn’t give this to the kids. It’s got a physics engine dedicated to jiggling boobs, for Godssake.