Soul Calibur V [Review]
February 9, 2012
The Soul series has been around since 1996 with its first incarnation called Soul Edge in the arcades, but others might know it as Soul Blade. When Soul Calibur was released, it put the soul series on the map. Soul Calibur II made a huge splash when it was released on the consoles and in the arcades. If only the Soul series would have been able to keep that momentum, it would have been up to par. But unfortunately the last two games in the series, Soul Calibur III and Soul Calibur IV, have not. Now players are looking at Soul Calibur V to bring back the excitement and enthusiasm that has been lost since Soul Calibur III.
The visual design is gorgeous, and sound design is all too familiar to what the Soul series has established. Every slash, scream, and grunt is spot on, and fits each character nicely. The background music is perfect and sets the tone for the battles well. The announcer is still saying things that make no sense at all and yet, the announcer seems to make everything feel epic. The sound design team should be very proud of the work they did for this game.
The graphics look spot on and the animations are great. The stages are well lit and every detail is not missed. Most games don’t always pay close attention to stages. It’s good to see the developers took their time with the stages to make them look amazing. Soul Calibur V keeps up the tradition of high production value, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
The mechanics behind the game pay homage to the old Soul Edge while still keeping some of the mechanics from the more recent games. The game has thrown away the “Critical Finishes” from Soul Calibur IV, and reintroduced the soul gauge, a meter that can be spent to do “guard impacts,” “critical edges,” and “brave edges,” from Soul Edge.
The one thing that might bug a lot of veterans is the fact that “guard impacts” are no longer free to use. They do require meter, but after playing with a good amount of characters, I have noticed a lot of them have ways to perform “guard impacts” with moves that are special to that character. If the player utilizes their character’s specific guard impact it really shouldn’t be that much of a problem for people that put the time in to learn their character.
“Critical edges” and “brave edges” are two things players should get to know before stepping online. “Critical edges” are comparable to Street Fighter IV ultra moves. They require a whole meter and do a lot of damage. People should be careful not to throw them out randomly either because they can be punished rather easily. The “brave edges” can be compared to Street Fighter IV as E.X. moves. They are basically extra damage versions of preexisting moves that can be executed by pressing all 3 attack buttons after inputting the desired move, but only certain moves are able to be E.X. moves.
They have also added a “just guard” and a “guard crush” mechanic to the game. “Just guard” acts as the old guard impact did, but it’s just a tad different. If the player presses guard and releases exactly at the time the opponent would hit them, then “just guard” will activate. “Just guard” will allow the player to negate the block stun and the frame disadvantage it would have allowing for an easy counter attack.
The “guard crush” acts as device to stop people who like to block way too much, or what some people call “turtling.” When the health meter flashes yellow, it means you’re in a warning state for being guard crushed, and when it starts flashing red, it means that the player can only block a couple of more strong hits before his guard is crushed. When the guard is crushed, the character will enter a crumple state and are easy pickings for the opponent.
A lot of mechanics have been thrown into this game and I have to say, they are a mass improvement for the series. The comeback mechanic they put in the game has to be one of the best I’ve seen in a fighting game. When the player is about to lose the match on the final round they get 1 full stock of meter. I honestly think it’s brilliant because it gives them an advantage but doesn’t secure the win. It also doesn’t give the winning player a tool that allows them to put the nail in the coffin. It’s a simple concept that a lot of developers mess up. I only wish I could say I was just as happy with the character roster as I am about the mechanics.
Soul Calibur V has taken a bold move and has removed a lot of classic characters for new ones. A lot of the new characters are really just new faces with the same fighting archetypes of past characters. For instance, Lexia plays like Xianhua and Xiba like Kilik. Each does have some distinct differences that set them differently from their older counter parts.
A lot of people were not happy about this because it removed some fan favorites like Taki. I actually enjoy a lot of the new cast, but what I don’t understand is why 3 of the character slots have to have characters that use the random weapon mechanics(character uses a random weapon that switches out each round). It seems wasteful, and honestly, I was rather disappointed because those slots could have been filled with characters that don’t even have their weapons represented by a newer face.
One of my main issues with Soul Calibur V is the lack luster single player modes. The story mode is a joke at best. The story revolves around Patroklos and his sister Pyrrah, and how they are entwined in the struggle between the two soul swords, Soul Calibur and Soul Edge. The whole comprised of a couple of cg cut scenes and then the rest is boring still frames with dialogue. Not only that, but the story mode consist of only playing a small number of characters, and felt like a waste of time.
I was actually glad it was over when it did end; the only reason anyone should go through it is to unlock “legendary souls” mode and some of the other unlockables for “character creation.” “Legendary souls” mode is a timed event with one of the most ridiculously set difficulties I have ever played. I never got past stage 2 in this mode, and I gave up trying. The arcade mode has been reduced to a six stages of battles, and there are no character endings. The only things that unlock are character creation material and titles.
“Character creation” is the best single player mode and definite enhancement from the previous Soul Calibur IV‘s character creation. Players can take fighters that are already available and edit them or make a new fighter from scratch and give them the fighting style of someone in the cast. There are a ton of items to begin with and by playing the game offline or online unlocks more gear to equip. The characters can be customized from head to toe. A lot of the creations out there right now are pretty impressive and they are only going to get better from here.
I am happy to report that Soul Calibur V‘s online functionality has to be the best online functionality I have ever seen in a 3D fighting game. I had little to no lag, and only maybe 1 or 2 disconnects that weren’t due to rage quitting. The menu for looking for matches offers the choice of where an opponent can be located, their play style, voice chat, and even what language they speak. This allows for getting the best possible match with the least amount of lag.
They have the standard ranked and player matches, but they also have “global colosseon”. “Global colosseon” acts as a huge lobby area for people to gather for chatting, and entering in tournaments and random matches. When in a room, with other people in player matches, there is spectating, text chat, and voice chat features in the lobby. Soul Calibur V has a very impressive online mode, and this is where most players will be spending their time when not creating characters.
Soul Calibur V is by no means the best game in the Soul series, but it is far from the worst. Soul Calibur V performs marvelously with its character creation, online multiplayer features, and the new mechanics. The single player modes are what are lacking in this game and it’s sad to see considering how the game is supposed to progress the story. When Soul Calibur V is on its own the soul is wounded. But when it’s online or there are friends around to play with, the soul still burns.
Out Of 5
Soul Calibur V
The stages, characters, and visual effects look great; and fit the tone of the game.
The sound design is spot on; and lives up to the reputation of the Soul series. The English voice acting for some of the characters could really use some work.
The controls work really well for the system; and serve the game well.
The game in multiplayer is great; and a lot of time can be sunk into creating new characters. The single player modes are the weak spots in this fighter.
The most fun can be had in "character creation and multiplayer. Single player is not fun though; and should be blazed through just to get unlockables.