The gaming industry is engulfed in a plethora of genres, such as first-person shooters, action-adventure games, RPGs and of course fighters. The techniques utilized in each genre have their own mechanics and specific expectations by fans. In order for games in these genres to be successful, the developers have to create a reason for consumers to enjoy them, especially nowadays. It's been a little while since Namco Bandai has released a console version of a Soul Calibur game; in fact, SCIV was released even before Trophy support became mandatory for all PS3 games. With the above observations in mind, does Namco Bandai give us a reason to buy the newest installment of Soul Calibur, apart from perhaps another Trophy list?
The story begins in the year 1607, with Patroklos – son of series veteran brawler Sophitia - dead-set on ending the threat of a corrupted group of individuals known as Malfested. The diseased, or rather those who are malfested, come from the Soul Edge, and in the series’ lore, only the one who wields Soul Calibur can defeat SoulEdge. The twist to this story is that our hero’s sister, Pyrrha, just so happens to be the wielder of Soul Edge, due to some bad influences. As such, Patrokles must defeat his sister to fulfill his destiny as the Soul Calibur user, and the story follows Patrokles and how he handles his fate.
Though the story dialogue is designed to string together fight sequences, the flow of the narrative grants justifiable reasons to do so. Surprisingly, the entire experience is highly engaging for a story in a fighting game. Furthermore, the narrative is delivered with a mixture of CG cut-scenes and artistic stills, which although isn’t exactly fresh, proves both gorgeous and intriguing. As you'd expect, Soul Calibur V has plenty of different game modes on offer, including the usual beat-‘em-up staples such as Arcade, 2-player offline, online, and story mode. Most of the modes are self-explanatory, but a few have some deep appeal to the overall experience. Note that the bread-and-butter gameplay is both tight and responsive and can hold this game up on its own regardless of the addition of extra modes.
Making his debut into the fighting scene, Ezio Auditore brings his presence into the game’s robust roster. I spent most of my time with Ezio giggling from seeing the mechanics that mimicked a lot of his movements and techniques from Assassin's Creed; sure, that's to be expected, but it's refreshing to see his combat flow in a different genre. Since he's an assassin, he's much more effective at close range, and his grapples are quite entertaining to watch. Ezio's combo moves utilize his hidden blade, hidden gun, and crossbow, which fans should instantly recognise as staples of his Assassin's Creed weapons set. However, due to his effectiveness at fighting in close proximity, he doesn't fare well against fellows like Nightmare, who turned me into a mutilated ragdoll countless times. Regardless, Ezio is a fun character to play, but he's not necessarily a deal-changer. He does, however, offer an intriguing and diverse addition to the already impressive line-up of 30 combatants.
The other major point I'd like to make is that the online side of the game is fairly inviting. Of course, ranked matches, player matches, and replays are available, but the tournament area is more of a personal focal point. This area is called Global Colosseo, and it's essentially a massive lobby designed for random matches and tournaments. The lobby can be broken down to major cities across the globe, and players can meet, battle, practice, and enter into tournaments. It's not extravagant, per se, but it's personalized and it looks to cater more towards an interactive form of online play. As I see it, it could be the start to something big, and I hope that it's received positively and improved upon.
Soul Calibur has always had a very strong emphasis on performance, and this fifth installment looks better than ever. Battlefields have a very high detail, and some of them even have war conflicts going on. The animations are smooth, and even the lip synching is pretty accurate in accordance to the delivered dialogue. Impact sounds are almost graphic, and they're glorious; unless you're the receiver. The soundtrack sort of takes a back seat to the action, but that's to be expected, what with all of the loud fighting noises and the perpetuated foul language by those, mainly myself, who suck against Nightmare.
Soul Calibur V doesn't take many chances, which is both good and bad. The gaming market is slow at present, so it doesn't have much competition. Still, even though this game looks and plays superb, it will probably be put back on the shelf when the Next Big Thing comes along, which is unfortunate. The story is short and sweet, spanning 20 episodes, and the Global Colosseo is a very inviting way to meet up with fellow gamers and beat the tar out of each other. Outside of that, it only gives gamers another Trophy set and another polished fighting game to play. However, this thought shouldn't be taken as a hindrance to pick up this game, on account of it being so beautiful, so invigorating, and so challenging; challenging, as SC is much more a defensive game than a button-mashing offensive one. To counteract my statement a few sentences back, one could easily dedicate hours and hours into perfecting each character and making any opponent look like a complete tool without even hitting triangle, square, or circle.
It'd be hard, and require a lot of discipline and practice, and luck in my case, but it's possible. This is a good time for Soul Calibur V to launch, and it thoroughly deserves any time that anyone is willing to give it.
-The Final Word-
A hearty fighter that sticks to its guns for a grand old time
|Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3|