Review: Soul Calibur 5, a Great Barebones Experience

If you’re someone who plays Soul Calibur for its deep single player, you may be disappointed with Soul Calibur 5.

How is Misturugi still in this game?!?!

The story mode in SC5 is a 3 hour experience, alternating between fights against the AI and drawn stills. I personally was wishing for it to end the entire time, uninterested in the story of two siblings whose relationship with one another borders on incestual. If that’s not your cup of tea – there’s also a standard arcade mode, pitting you against 7 AI opponents and recording your best time.  After beating story mode, you’ll unlock “Legendary Souls” – the same thing as arcade mode but with a more difficult AI. Create a character returns with new items, otherwise remaining identical to previous iterations of the franchise. Rounding out SC5’s paltry single player is quick play – where you choose to fight pre-created AI opponents to win titles for your multiplayer profile. That’s it. If you plan on only playing SC5’s single player, then there is nothing more for you to look forward to.

Softening the blow of SC5’s lackluster single player is the actual fighting in the game – which feels awesome. Performing character moves is responsive and provides a satisfying feeling whenever you land an attack. It doesn’t hurt that the game looks great as well, with SC5 being arguably the greatest looking fighting game on the market (at least until Tekken Tag Tournament 2 later this year). I was seriously floored by how good Namco managed to make the game look, especially the characters. It left me wanting to see those who were left out given the same treatment.

Namco and Team Soul may have been unconcerned with SC5’s single player, but it’s clear that they care deeply about the game’s multiplayer. The last two numbered entries in the series made many small changes to the game, only resulting in them being broken and never played competitively. With this iteration of the game’s combat system featuring some of the biggest and most enjoyable changes yet, that is not the case here.

Taking a page from Street Fighter IV, Soul Calibur now has a meter (called Critical Gauge) that fills up as you land attacks and receive damage, allowing you to perform souped-up versions of your combos (Brave Edge), or a unique super move (Critical Edge). Guard Impacting, a parrying maneuver, is now built into some of your standard moves, or can also be performed at the cost of some of your meter. The new meter opens up a whole new dynamic for the player, presenting them with more options than ever before.

Besides the Critical Gauge, there’s two other new mechanics. Just Guarding, a feature similar to Third Strike’s parries that requires a strict 3 frame press and release of the guard button. And the reworked guard break system. Your guard in the game will now be broken for blocking too many attacks without dealing any damage. This would be a change I would be fine with, except it carries over from round to round, sometimes becoming the deciding factor in what would otherwise be a close match. It’s not a game breaking change, but it will force more defensive players who would otherwise “turtle” to come out of their shell.

For those of you who are interested in playing multiplayer but having no one to play with, do not fret. In the Xbox version of the game the netcode was phenomenal, often resulting in matches with 5 bars of connectivity that were lag free.  The game features the standard online modes for fighters, providing ranked matches, and player lobbies where winner stays on as others watch and wait for their turn. You can also use your created characters in any mode online, providing some additional entertainment as you fight against the result of other players’ creativity.

With the recent resurgence of the fighting game genre, the amount of fighters on the market may seem overwhelming. But Soul Calibur 5 manages to carve its name into history as an exceptional 3D fighter, demonstrating why the soul still burns.

Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

8 out of 10






~ by spruchy on February 23, 2012.

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