Street Fighter 3 again?

First of all, I would like to say that Soulcalibur (or Soul) is probably one of my favourite game series, and I have high hopes for every Soulcalibur game I play. However, this sixth installment (yes, I’m counting Soul Edge) in the series and is the weakest I have played.

Soulcalibur V is the equivalent of Street Fighter 3 in its series: being different, and replacing much of the character roster with new, weird characters. With, I think, at least 10 characters from games preceding it not returning; including Cassandra, Talim, Taki, Xianghua, Rock, Seong Mi-na, Sophitia, Inferno and Yun-seong. I find myself feeling quite distressed at the missing of Yun-seong especially, because he was definitely my favourite character in Soulcalibur II and probably IV; and the missing of Talim and Taki are almost just as distressing. And no Cassandra or Sophitia? They’re crucial characters for the story — and they’ve always been in it! But, instead, we get replacements for the missing characters that just aren’t the same.

Wait, I know the one on the right is Ezio… But who’s the other guy?

Something that further distresses me is that Kilik has been demoted to an unlockable character, who uses different fighting styles — it’s horrible to see when you’re about to fight Kilik and it says “Fighting Style: Xiba”. But, don’t worry! There’s some new characters for everyone! Including Patroklas, the douche who has seemingly no good fighting moves; and Z.W.E.I, who can’t help but look stupid.

But some remaining characters I think have improved move sets than in previous games – like Aeon for example – and Ezio is a good character to bring in. But, still, Cervantes has some of his move set cut off from Soulcalibur IV, and so he isn’t the same old Cervantes. And we all know how awesome he can be. Moreover, the characters are more in-balanced: with characters like Nightmare and Siegfried being quite overpowered. But if there is one good thing about the characters, Ivy’s costume is pretty good. *snigger*

The jiggle.

Nonetheless, it’s the same old Soulcalibur, and it does play very well. It’s faster paced fighting makes for a nice change, and the addition of more dynamic sequences makes for a more exciting battle. Also, there is a new feature, which makes awesome combo moves all the more awesome. You know those combo moves in which it’s a flaming charge up attack? You know? Well, let’s say the extra strong combo moves. But, yeah, there’s a sort of power meter beside your health, and you can only do certain combo moves when it charges up at least near fully. I’m not sure if this makes for better battles or not, but it certainly makes these awesome combo moves all the better.

Furthermore, it is probably just as good as Soulcalibur IV for the good ol’ two player; and some of the new maps are great, like the pirate ship one, which is extra-dynamic. Also, the game is presented very well: with slick menus and a less dull health banner and stuff than in IV. And finally, the soundtrack is just as good as always — the Soulcalibur-y atmosphere is still good.

However, there are a couple of things about the game that really are underwhelming. Firstly, the story mode. The title for the story mode likes to remind you there’s a reason why some of your favourite characters are gone, with the date, “1607 AD” clearly there: ten years beyond Soulcalibur IV. But the story’s a bit rubbish. Basically, if you haven’t played it before, it is 20 stages long, a battle in each stage. This would be alright — if you could do it with more than one character. Yes, one character; everyone’s favourite douche, Patroklas. The story itself is acceptable, but it is unacceptably short: taking a measly 45 minutes to complete. This especially sucks because the story mode in IV was an integral part of the game, with every character having their own 24 stage story – so it actually felt like an achievement to complete the whole thing. Whereas in this the story feels tacked on and lazy; especially considering the story is told in lazy still-image cut scenes.

Sure you will.

Secondly, the Legendary Souls mode. This mode is very, very underwhelming. Remember in Soulcalibur IV, there was a great mode called Tower of Lost Souls? That mode was a brilliant part of the game, and it actually felt like the developers had put effort into it; but Legendary Souls definitely doesn’t feel like that. All it is is extra-hard battles against random opponents, where you see how long you can last. It seems an alright idea, but it’s a mode I only spent half an hour on — and it’s got absolutely nothing on Tower of Lost Souls mode or the brilliant Conquest mode on Soulcalibur II.

And finally, the Arcade mode. This mode, again, feels a little bit lazy. As fighting game fans would know, the Arcade mode is the main attraction of many fighting games: being difficult to get through and all that. But that particular mode on this game is six stages long, so it can take as little as four or five minutes to complete. That’s one thing not brilliant about it. Another thing is that there are no transition scenes, so there is nothing special about the battles. The next thing is that the final fight is always against Nightmare – and not Inferno – and on an already in the game stage: which is pretty lazy. And one final thing that really ticks me off; when you complete it, all it says is “You Win!” You win? You mean there’s no outro or anything? So there’s nothing explaining what the characters do next? No. And so there is definitely a lazy air to the Arcade mode.

Conclusively, there’s not all that much substance to the game; or lasting appeal. It shows that I’ve only played it for 16 hours and I choose to play Soulcalibur IV if I ever want to play one multi-player.

Verdict:

Soulcalibur V plays really well. It’s fast-paced, dynamic and slickly designed. However, there are many flaws in what seems like a fantastic Soulcalibur game at first. There is a big missing list of old favourite characters – including Yun-seong – and the characters are definitely less balanced than they have been. The most glaring flaw, though, is the game’s lack of back bone, with its modes seeming tacked on and lazy – especially the rubbish story mode.

… But the gameplay does remain very good.

So I give it: 70/100.

– Speedy.

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