I know most gamers aren’t big fans of math but follow me here. Take a classic and wildly popular franchise add 2 angsty main characters and then subtract a whole whack of fan favorite characters and what do you get?
Well what you get is Soul Calibur V the highly anticipated and highly disappointing sixth installment in Namco’s insanely popular Soul Series.
“SC is back!” was the 2010 tweet that alerted the world to the fact that the Soul Calibur franchise would be getting a new installment. So fans waited with bated breath for the release of the game which came on January 31st. What fans got was a lack luster game that featured a crappy storyline and some seriously disappointing characters replacing fan favorites.
Unlike its predecessors, Soul Calibur V focuses on a single character rather than giving each character their own special story – and that is the first problem with the game.
Normally I like this style of game as it allows you to get attached to one character but this style NEVER works for a fighting game. Every fighting game I have ever played sticks more towards the idea that each character deserves their own ending, no matter how minor they are. So I guess Namco should be praised for trying something new – NOT!
However this idea bombed. Why? Simple – nobody liked the main character. Namco chose to focus the game on Patroklos Alexander, the son of series veteran Sophitia. For a lot of people the idea of getting to play another member of the Alexander family was pretty exciting – I mean Sophitia has always been a fan favorite and Cassandra was wildly popular upon her debut in. So what went wrong with Patroklos?
Problem one – Patroklos did not receive an original style, instead he received the slightly modified style used by Setsuka and, not surprisingly, the fighting did not translate over well to a male character resulting in a style that was a tad too feminine. Problem two – his attitude! Right out of the gate Patroklos comes off as a holier than thou Boy Scout kind of guy. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather play a cocky jerk (like Maxi) than be lectured about moral choices while playing Patroklos.
The second major problem that came with Soul Calibur V was the decision to get rid of a lot of fan favorite characters and replace them with empty replicas. Newer characters like Xianghua, Yun-seong, Zasalamel, Cassandra, Setsuka and Amy are all gone from the game.
Even classic characters like Sophitia, Taki and Seong Mi-na were cut and replaced by such fail characters as theobnoxious Leixia (the daughter of Xianghua), the impossible to play Z.W.E.I, Naruto OC Natsu (who was trained by Taki) and stereotypical hungry hero Xiba.
I’m sorry! Just because you make new characters and make them related to old ones does not make up for the fact that the new characters are just not very well created.
I suppose it can be said that at least they decided to keep game staples like Maxi and Mitsurugi, but the decision to get rid of Taki yet keep Ivy is beyond me. However the characters who ended up staying still suffered greatly from the fact that they make very few appearances in the actual storyline. Classics such as Voldo make only 2 abysmal appearances
Oh and did I forget to mention the games ‘sink-or-swim’ attitude towards new players? Yeah, it’s got that in spades. Old players will notice a major new feature to the game: the critical gauge. Basically the critical gauge meter holds two bars of energy which are used to perform new types of offensive and defensive maneuvers.
HOWEVER the player is never actually taught how to USE this new gauge – all the player gets is a screen of text displayed at the opening of story and training modes.
But enough of my whining, now onto the positives of the game (yes there are a few) that keep this game from being a total flop.
First off, the fighting style stayed the same! That’s right, Mitsurugi is still a bad ass samurai and Voldo is still a freak of nature. Thankfully, many of the new characters have received refurbished versions of removed characters fighting styles. Patroklos fights like Setsuna, Pyrrha like her mother Sophitia and Aunt Cassandra, Natsu like her teacher Taki, Leixia like her mother Xianghua and Xiba like Kilik.
In fact the game only chose to introduce two new fighting styles. First they introduced the werewolf-esque Z.W.E.I. who has an annoyingly short ranged fighting style that is hindered by his difficult to master combos. Finally the game also introduced Viola, who uses a magical orb in battle that allows her to hit opponents who are quite far away (though it can be noted appearances may be deceiving since her clawed glove is actually not a weapon).
Another positive to note about the game is that it truly is beautiful visually. The scenery of each stage is highly impressive, and though you still can’t injure other fighters with your surrounding you can get some seriously satisfying ‘Ring Outs’ by knocking people off various stages.
Finally the game does offer 5 seriously awesome Offline scenarios: Legendary Souls, Arcade, Quick Battle, VS Battle and Training. The most notable of these is Legendary Souls which is a new addition to the series.
Essentially Legendary Souls is a boss rush style of fight where you fight 7 of the series’ most notable protagonists and bosses. Sounds fun right? Well it actually features a seriously tricky aspect – each of the 7 bosses is set to a secret level of difficulty that makes ‘very hard’ look like child’s play.
It can also be noted that online play is super smooth; you will never notice any performance issues when fighting a character with a player who has a high connection rating and that means more ass-kicking and less lagging.
Oh, and yes, character creation has returned – but this time with the ability to add tattoos and pattern to clothing. In addition, characters no longer have stats that are tied to pieces of clothing, so you’re free to dress up your fighters however you’d like.
All in all, despite all my whining, Soul Calibur V is an okay game. The storyline may be abysmal but if you are looking to play a visually beautiful fighting game than it may be worth picking up. Besides, Ezio from Assassin’s Creed is this games special character and that’s gotta be worth some points right there.
Recommendation: You won’t die without it