Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review: Soul Calibur V

The newest Soul Calibur has been released and I have to say that it is a huge improvement over Soul Calibur IV in many ways. I've said before that I am only good with certain fighting game franchises nowadays and Soul Calibur was one listed. While I am really comfortable with the change in combat from the original Soul Blade to Soul Calibur V, I must say that this was version is pretty good.

For starters, the combat system is amazingly smooth. It wasn't as slow as Soul Calibur IV. While some veteran fighters were replaced with newer ones, their move sets can be devastating when you learn how to use them. On top of that, some of the other veterans make good comebacks, like Astaroth, Mitsurugi, and Ivy. Speaking of characters, with Ezio Auditore da Firenze in the mix, Assassin's Creed fans will love being able to go up against Nightmare with their favorite assassin. Another feature means you can literally sidestep an opponent and attack from a new angle.

A great addition to Soul Calibur V are the "Brave Edge" and "Critical Edge" moves. These moves are available to a player when they charge the super meter next to their character's name. These are way easier to execute than the "Critical Finish" in Soul Calibur IV, where you had to break your opponent's armor and then press all the face buttons at the same time. That feat was very difficult to pull off as you didn't know when precisely the armor would break and you have a small window to press the buttons. These new "Edge" moves only require a shoulder button press and face button press. I must say, they are extremely satisfying to use.

The creation system has seen a drastic change as well. While they don't give you a lot to work with early on, when you level up by winning matches either online, in the story, or against other players (or computer), you earn more customizable parts. However, the creation only really gives you so much. My friends and I made it to level forty-something and we were just unlocking skirts and pants. Sure, the armor looks nice, but I really wish there was more. The creation system in Soul Calibur IV had more to choose from and I hope that more can possibly be made available through future DLC.

The graphics are pretty nice; environments are beautiful and the characters look amazing. Sometimes during a match, I would just pause or go into training mode to look at what's going on in the background. Soul Calibur, at least to me, has a good history of lush and detailed fighting arenas. It is very impressive.

The story on the other hand is, well, unimpressive. Soul Calibur V centers on the children of Sophitia, Patroklos and Pyrrha, and their ordeal with the Soul Swords coming back. There is an ongoing plot about "malfested" who are monsters that are created from Soul Edge. Soul Calibur has returned and it would seem that Patroklos is the new keeper of the sword, like Siegfried before him. Pyrrha has been missing for awhile and thus Patrokolos is on a mission to find her and discover what connections his missing sister has to Soul Calibur and Soul Edge. The writing isn't exactly the best nor does some of the conflict make sense. Old Soul Calibur characters make brief, sometimes random, appearances and hardly play into the larger plot (outside of Nightmare and Ivy). There are even cutscenes, but they are few and far in between as the rest of the story is told through still pictures and you hear the dialogue. Again, Mortal Kombat gave fully fleshed out cutscenes and they proved they could do it here. Why not continue doing them? Near the end of the story, the final few fights seem to have a huge spike in difficulty as it took me numerous attempts to defeat the final opponents.

Arcade mode consists of six stages were you face random characters and get into a final fight with Nightmare, Pyrrha, or Patroklos. I am yet to see other final characters being fought in the sixth stage. The problem here is that there are no character endings. Yep, no character endings whatsoever. So Ezio, despite his inclusion here, doesn't get an individual ending. I don't get it. Darth Vader, Starkiller, Yoda, Link, Spawn, and Heihachi got character endings in Soul Calibur before. Why not Ezio or the other characters? At least Marvel vs Capcom 3 had endings, despite them being still picture and text endings. Soul Calibur V doesn't have any!

Overall, Soul Calibur V is average. While there were a lot of good changes to the final product, there were a lot of questionable decisions. For every good addition, there's a bad reduction. You can play online with your difficulty options and that's a major plus. Then you also have lack of character endings in Arcade mode... You get a full story, but it's lackluster. At this point in time, I'd suggest you Try It.