I don’t like fighting games. I make that clarification in order to lend more weight to the following statement: I’ve always liked Soul Calibur . There’s something about its sparkling visuals, ultra-fluid and accessible gameplay, and fantastic assortment of characters. Therefore, I’m actually excited for Soul Calibur V ; it’ll likely be the only fighting game I play next year (no disrespect to the other promising titles, like Street Fighter X Tekken ). And now that we’ve had a closer look at SCV at the Tokyo Game Show, it’s definitely time for a preview.
First off, it has been revealed that there will be at least 30 characters on the roster. That’s important because only 13 have been officially announced: Ivy, Voldo, Mitsurugi, Hilde, Maxi, Siegfried, Tira, and Astaroth are returning faces, and Viola, Natsu, Pyrrha, Patroklos, and Z.W.E.I. are newcomers. You can find some screens of all these new characters around the Internet, but check the screenshots here at PSXE to check out Viola; she reminds us of a deadly fortune teller as she wields this mysterious crystal ball. Astaroth has his big ol’ axe, Mitsurugi will return with his samurai sword, and Ivy will bring her unique snake sword into the fray.
As for the gameplay itself, SCV will be about more than draining your opponent’s health bar. Firstly, you have to consider the critical edge and brave edge attacks, which are all-new additions to the franchise. The brave edge techniques use up one-quarter of a four-bar meter and are basically flashier, more damaging versions of a character’s special moves. Most characters will have two specific brave edge attacks, but some will boast three. Critical edge attacks are more powerful; they require half your meter and each fighter has one at his or her disposal. If a critical hits…look out.
But where there’s offense there must be defense, and here’s where the guards and guard impacts play a crucial role. Guard impact requires the use of one bar on your meter, and allows you to gain the advantage if you can parry an opponent’s attack an instant before it hits you. The regular guard doesn’t drain your meter at all but it’s a little more difficult: you hit the guard button the moment you’re actually struck by the oncoming attack. This will result in staggering your foe and allows you to recover faster. Obviously, such mechanics are going to require some practice.
Lastly, I’m a big fan of Namco pushing to keep the flow of the battle intact. If you start guarding too often without going on the offensive, your health bar will start to flash red. This tells you that your guard is about to be broken, so you had best change tactics. Therefore, sitting there for a few minutes, defending everything your opponent tries won’t be a good idea. At the same time, smashing through your enemy’s armor is a great way of gaining the upper hand. You can break your opponent’s armor by finishing off a round with a special attack…again, much practice needed.
Soul Calibur V is slated for a global launch in the first quarter of 2012, and it’s bound to be a technically proficient, highly addictive production. These games always are.