It’s that time again, it’s been three years since SoulCalibur IV, on the average clock of Namco and Project Soul, that means it’s time for yet another SoulCalibur. Many argue that it doesn’t feel necessary to make yet another SoulCalibur, but here we are yet again with a new SoulCalibur, this time featuring Ezio Auditore from Ubisoft’s beloved Assassins Creed series. Known to be everyone’s favorite 8-way run 3D Weapon-based fighter, what does yet another SoulCalibur offer us? A vast improvement over an already great fighter or a needless rehash?
SoulCalibur started off in the same timeframe of the rise of 3D Fighters as Soul Edge (Soul Blade in North America and Europe), such as Virtua Fighter, Dead or Alive and Namco’s own Tekken, however this took a different approach by making it a weapons-based fighter, later then finding ground in the name of SoulCalibur on the Sega Dreamcast and won over the hearts of hundreds of thousands with what is considered to be the cornerstone of SoulCalibur, SoulCalibur II. Here we are a decade and a half later with Sou Calibur V, taking place 17 years after SoulCalibur IV, where it tells the story of Sophitia’s two kids Patroklos and Pyrrha—yes I am talking about story in a Fighting Game, go ahead and call me a scrub for it. Reviewing this game, I checked out the singleplayer modes first, so we’re gonna talk about story mode.
You can burn through it in a matter of one hour which includes the cut scenes. Speaking of the cut scenes, why Namco, why Project Soul, would you make us watch, still image, after still image with dialog/text over it? The story is already no better than typical fan fiction, but now you make us watch cut scenes with the quality presentation of the non-FMV supporting Nintendo 64. It makes it very excruciating to sit through, sure I can skip them but, I shouldn’t want to, that’s not good considering this is story mode and you will be begging for the scarce amount of fully animated cut scenes between fights. Well time to hit the arcade mode and it appears there’s no individual endings for each of the characters, there goes the lasting appeal of arcade mode. So, a shoddy story mode and short lasting of appeal for an arcade mode, don’t worry, the traditional Weapon Master/Chronicles of the Sword/Tower of Souls or some equivalent can save you by giving a very lengthy list of missions to complete for lasting appeal. Wait a minute, that’s not there either, so once again, lasting appeal is cut short. Only being accompanied by a handful of unlockables such as secret characters, hands down, this is quite possibly the weakest singleplayer experience of the Soul Calibur series, especially for those who may have been spoiled by lengthy experiences such as the newest Mortal Kombat
Fortunately, Project Soul has redeemed themselves for the lacking of the above mentioned with this installment of SoulCalibur V. This is a great tournament fighter that has presented to us by Namco. Characters are much better balanced than they were in SoulCalibur IV, especially when it comes to the choice of guest characters. Ezio Auditore is the best SoulCalibur guest since Link, as he fits right into the SoulCalibur universe, very easy to control and a fair character indeed, Assassins Creed fans will be proud if they decide to purchase SoulCalibur V. Being that this game is taking 17 years after the events of SoulCalibur IV, some characters had to die off, however, if you happened to have a main that has now died of old age or was killed off in SoulCalibur V, no need to worry, they most likely have a descendant that fights in the same style or some equivalent of a reincarnation. If You’re new to the SoulCalibur series, there are plenty of characters that a beginner can pick up, such as Sophitia’s offspring in Patroklos and Pyrrha and of course, Ubisoft’s guest of honor, Ezio.
Among these roster changes which clearly shows that the SoulCalibur franchise is disguising a reboot without the name, we also have the return of the critical edge system, which works very similarly to the Ultra and Super moves in Super Street Fighter IV, except they are much easier to execute and feel less stiff when pulling off, which is a lot less frustrating considering how many times a player may feel stressed that their ultra or super move didn’t work on command due to the lack of room for error in accuracy. Of course, there’s still the subtle things to see, like armor/clothing damage that adds to the visual realism of the fighting. While all of this feels like an improvement for an already great fighter, this does only feel like more SoulCalibur, I could be saying this because, graphically, it looks pretty similar to the previous installment, but there’s nothing ugly about this game in terms of graphics at all, at worst, they might be slightly dated, character models look great and it’s all appealing to the eye, no terrible slowdowns or anything like that. Again, more of SoulCalibur, but if you like SoulCalibur, why not have more?
Taking the battle to online, the online works great and I never have any issues with lag, except provided my opponent may have a very inadequate connection. Fights feel smooth and fun and there’s not a lot of waiting time before getting into a fight. The netcode, however, is fairly simple and there’s a shallow amount of options in the variety of online play. It’s an honest shame that there isn’t much more to it, because Namco has online down pat but it would have been nice to give us more. Especially considering sometimes, it might be nice to filter out all of the created characters, the create a character system which is really nice for fan service, it may be the selling point of the game for you if you are a customization obsessed player.
SoulCalibur V overall may feel like more SoulCalibur, and more of the same (though given the spirit of a reboot) which makes it debatable as if this installment of SoulCalibur was necessary, but it seems there is a stronger focus on the fighting itself with improves on what was already a great fighting game. The singleplayer is disappointing and may turn off a buy for many people at full price as it is a bit bare and shallow. For those who want another good fighting game, however, especially one with the weapons-focused combat, SoulCalibur V is for you and is worth the price of admission for a fighting fan. Coming off as a shallow experience to some with the disappointing amount of extra content, it all comes down to the genre, fighting and that’s what SoulCalibur V does best and Project Soul seems to only want to continue to do it’s best.