Just to be clear, although I’m not a huge fighting fan, Soul Calibur is unquestionably my favorite series in the genre. I adored the original (it was one of only three games I ever bought for the Dreamcast), and I’ve played every entry since. I’m almost always satisfied but in the case of Soul Calibur V , I sense something foreign…a keen awareness that with every flashy slash, disappointment lingers in the background. It’s tough to admit but I don’t believe in denial.
First off, the game looks fantastic, as one might expect. The franchise is well known for beautiful, smooth visuals that excel when the attractive action heats up. SCV is no different and offers plenty of sweet, eye-pleasing effects, wonderfully designed characters, and even several top-notch battle backgrounds. That being said, I really think some of this presentation’s appeal is wearing off, and it isn’t due to any particular lagging but to a perceived lack of forward progress.
The sound is solid as well and once again, the effects take center-stage. The soundtrack is classically epic and full of brazen fanfare, per the franchise’s singular style. There’s no doubt that you’re playing a Soul Calibur and your speakers will appreciate the intensity of every hot-blooded clash of blades. But the voice acting is just pathetic and although it doesn’t matter as much in a fighting game, it doesn’t get a free pass. I mean, these voices are a little ridiculous and the story suffers as a result.
While some fighting games are considered more “hardcore” than others, Soul Calibur was always something of a blend. It boasted a pick-up-and-play quality that other titles didn’t have but at the same time, those who wished to dedicate themselves to learning the intricacies of combat would find a rewarding mechanic. That philosophy returns with SCV, as one can easily find entertainment by jamming on a few buttons, but won’t taste fulfillment the way the patient, diligent disciples will.
At its simplest, SCV is all about high and low attacks and on the flip side, high and low blocks. And to emphasize the aforementioned accessibility, the Critical Edge system has been updated and overhauled to give newcomers more opportunity to execute crowd-pleasing combos. Basically, you just build up the Critical Gauge during battle; it will fill when you deal or receive damage. When it’s full, you can unleash a very pretty – and awfully devastating – series of attacks that could cripple your opponent.
You also use this mechanic to execute Guard Impacts, which require precise timing and if successful, will knock your opponent off balance. It’s something the more serious fighting aficionados will appreciate but even at a high level, I think there’s something inherently flawed with the concept. Because they drain energy from the Critical Gauge, this means you may never get a chance to unleash your full power. And even if you get a few perfect Guard Impacts from that, they don’t have the same effect as going on the offensive with a full Gauge.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is still a reliable, compelling fighting game that can be tons of fun. But there’s one element where the designers dropped the ball and unfortunately, it’s the one element I treasure most: the story campaign. In SCV, most of the stories are told with simple and uninspired storyboards, and the boring (and in some cases, totally nonsense) plots don’t grab you. The awful dialogue and voice acting is just the final nail in the coffin for me, and that makes this an irritating adventure. I had expected much more.
As it turns out, Project Soul farmed out work on the story mode. That’s right, CyberConnect2 handled it and I have no idea why you outsource the most important aspect of your franchise. The new characters, particularly the uninteresting Patroklos, aren’t as good as they could’ve been, and the painfully bad writing and acting make the campaign feel very…amateur-ish by today’s standards. Lastly, there are 20 episodes in this mode and the last few are just unbearably frustrating.
I suppose the latter complaint could be due to my less-than-impressive skills with fighting games, and I’ll accept that. But I maintain that the meat and potatoes of Soul Calibur feels gimped. Arcade Mode won’t help much, either, as you only have access to 6 episodes, all of which are time trials that get tedious fast. On the plus side, you can’t ignore the great fighting mechanic and the fact that each character has his or her own distinct style.
Speaking of the new characters, this is going to be a sore spot for the long-time fans, although it doesn’t bother me quite as much. There are ten new fighters on the SCV roster and actually, several of them will remind you of the missing faces. Xiba will remind you of Kilik, for instance, and Natsu is similar to Taki (who was her master). The special guest character, Ezio Auditore, from Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise, is great. But with no Sophitia and other losses, this roster may disappoint the hardcore.
However, I will reiterate that the fighting remains pretty damn good, and the character creation mode is as robust as ever. Plus, fighting games are all about playing with other people; in the good ol’ days, this meant your opponent was sitting by your side but now, that isn’t a necessity. Either way, whether you compete offline or online, you’re going to have a blast if you enjoy this accessible yet challenging system. And remember, much of that patented Soul Calibur flash and panache is evident throughout.
Soul Calibur V is a competent, good-looking fighter that’s great with multiple players. It has much of the charm and style that has been the franchise’s calling card over the years, and diving into the mechanic will yield rewards for the patient. But the story campaign is so goofy and nonsensical, the lack of popular characters will annoy some fans, and overall, it just feels like a lesser-quality installment despite the lack of any glaring flaws.
The Good: Spiffy visuals throughout. Great audio and graphical effects. Accessible yet appropriately deep fighting system. Critical Gauge works well for offense. Each character has a distinct style. Playing with others, offline or online, is a blast.
The Bad: Voices are terrible. Story mode suffers from bad writing and boring main characters. Guard Impacts pale in comparison to Critical Gauge attacks. Familiar faces are missing.
The Ugly: “Oh dear God, stop talking. Please.”
Since when did we started caring about a 'fighting' game's story mode? Weird
Since some of us prefer to play our games alone and in this day and age there should be a decent enough story for each character that you want to play through to see what happens to each and every one of them.
Since we're talking about Soul Calibur.
In games like SC and MK story mode is essential
"In games like SC and MK story mode is essential"
Umm, no. Having a good story is great& all but it doesn't define a fighting game. Fighting mechanics first, story mode after. I mean do you truly believe the first thing that comes to mind of fighting game developers in order for their game to succeed is a good story mode? Over character balance, gameplay mechanics that work, nerfing etc etc? I'm sorry, but that is simply absurd thinking imo.
If you buy a fighting game be it Tekken or Soul Calibur just for the story, then lol. You're clearly in the wrong genre.
Last edited by Kevin555 on 2/8/2012 2:13:22 AM
If you want story and all that than go play uncharted or mass effect, it's a fighting game for god's sake, i know mK raised the bar for the fighting games storymode but that doesn't mean every fighting game needs that, scv is awesome, logged 30 hours so far and as of writing 4 of my friends camped in my living room for past 3days and its been sc nonstop, if you love fighting games buy it, if you can't play online or cant play with anyone with a controller than don't buy it, just my 2 cents
The genre actually is filled with rich lore. I think it's a modern occurance and misconception that fighting games don't need depth or story.
You need to take a step back and think about it. I never said the story is more important than the mechanics of the game. In games like SC and MK the story is what helps build the fan base. You can have the greatest mechanics ever but a player may not necessarily connect to a character b/c the lack of background or intriguing background.
see this is where you go wrong. It's not just MK that had a good story. Tekken had one of the best out there originally. So did Street Fighter, SC, MK…I could go on. The point is that if you're going to have a story mode then at least make it decent. Doesn't have to be great. Just b/c you don't care about it doesn't mean others shouldn't.
Slugga = win.
Smokey and World are also correct. I don't really care for many fighting games, but I think it's been well established over the last decade that many different games have some established story. It may not be strong like Uncharted or other story based games, but that's ok. It'd definitely more about the mechanic, but no one said it wasn't.
Pretending story isn't important is a little bit presumptuous. And with the score it got, it's obviously a game regulars to the series will love. But without that story, there's nothing to offer anyone else other than those that already have experience with the game.
And finally, since these games have had decent story in the past, the lack of one, in the name of innovation, can be seen as a step back for the franchise.
I believe it's the reviewer's job to let us know that. If you don't care, that's fine. But acting like it's criminal is a little silly.
Last edited by Underdog15 on 2/8/2012 12:49:28 PM
You said it was "essential" for SCV to have story mode. Quite simply, it isn't. A story mode is great to have but it it not essential to any fighting game. That is what your comment states & i'm going to shoot it down the way i read it. If i am tearing this out of context, by all means let me know, but i dont think i am.
I cannot believe i am repeating myself here, when you talk of building character fanbase, do you think fan fave characters from various fighting games such as Kasumi & Ayane from DOA or Akira from VF earn their popular fanbase because of story? Even though VF doesn't even have a story mode altogether? No, what makes him popular is his moveset & how accessible he is to players, appearance also helps too.
Story modes in fighting games have hardly ever been good & most likely never will be, why people are still trying to convince themselves that a story mode would make or break a fighting game or lessen it's appeal is beyond me.
I personally don't think World & Slugga are big on fighting games if they think story mode plays a major role in their buying decision. As i said, it's cute to have butlike any story mode in a fighting game, you will beat it briefly, move on & enjoy the core of the game. The fighting.
"I don't really care for many fighting games"
For the record, noone is pretending story mode isn't important, the issue here is people think it's essential these days all of a sudden for a fighting game to have a good story for it to be a success when most fighting games that have ever been released have almost never ever had a decent story but have still sold well & won over fans. Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution ring a bell? Storyless & argueably one of the greatest rated fighting games released. Why? The gameplay, friends, the gameplay.
Last edited by Kevin555 on 2/10/2012 6:41:28 AM
Well that saves me some money anyway, I'm going to get this at some point because the highlight of my Soul Calibur IV experience was creating characters and fighting with them, some original and some from favorite game series and movies. But I'll wait for a cheap copy.
No Sophitia? Highlander is lying dead somewhere.
Yeah, Highlander's down & out for this count, I think.
Sophitia is there. Her appearance anyway <.<
No, it's not even Sophitia, it's Elysium, and it's a cynically chosen appearance of a younger and even less dressed Sophitia that is supposed to somehow make her *son* feel more comfortable and be persuaded to make a choice. The character is a mimic, and not Sophitia. So Zen-Zarab, it's not her.
Worlds, I am almost as disappointed and upset at the removal of Xianghua, Taki and the others as I am about Sophitia and Cassandra. Xianghua was another of my favorite characters to play. This game really offers me nothing at all.
I'm not lying dead somewhere, I'm just making sure my SC2, SC3 and SC4 discs are in one piece.
Last edited by TheHighlander on 2/7/2012 10:51:19 AM
I've been playing SCV for god damn hours & hours, in fact i don't think i have clocked as many hours in any other game than i have in SCV in it's first few days of release.
I absolutely love it personally, the visuals are beautiful, the music is epic (especially Ezio's Venice rooftop) & the gameplay is the most fast & fluid it has been in ages, since SCII imo.
When i first played, it did feel strange not having so many of the famous iconic faces, seeing all these fresh characters felt pretty unfamiliar, it almost didn't seem like apart of the Soul series. & i ain't going to lie, the more i play Natsu & Pyyrha the freakin more i miss Taki & Sophitia. I don't want the old "but there is character creation, so you can make em'" bs excuse, that won't fly with me, it's still not Taki & Sophitia the way the developer intended.
I also thought the three mimics & Setsuka style being lazily slapped onto an alt Patroklos is sheer laziness & it clearly shows that this game was rushed so Namco could get the game out the door asap before Tekken Tag 2, SF VS Tekken, VF5FS & Skullgirls start releasing. But don't blame Project Soul, blame Namco for pushing them into an unrealistic deadline.
But other than these personal annoyances i reckon the game is absolute tops & if you're a fighting game fan you owe it to yourself to play it. SC fans of old have every right to be pissed at the loss of iconic characters but should also learn to understand that some series (especially fighting games) need evolving, and although fave characters are gone, should just suck it up & get over it like the rest of the fans have too. I lost Talim & Zas, both didn't even get their movesets in ffs, but i still enjoyed learning the new blood. To deny yourself of quality gameplay over the absence of a character is lunacy & tells me you weren't a fan of the series to begin with if you won't atleast give this game & it's new blood a try.
Anyway, good review. I enjoy the game but do believe the change in identity takes getting used too & the solo play is as thin as paper. The rest of the game is brilliant & the gameplay is as good as it as ever been.
Thanks for the review champ.
Last edited by Kevin555 on 2/6/2012 11:21:54 PM
Kevin, given the capacity of game systems today, there is no reason to drop iconic characters that have literally been the backbone of the franchise, nor is there even a need. When the story of the game is so weak that there is yet to be a review that claims otherwise, it's particularly galling for people to say that things have to develop and move on. Very poor justification for removing all that they did, and very poor justification for releasing a game that would appear to be little more than a re-dressed Soul Calibur 4.
I fully agree with you about the loss of the iconic cast, as a huge fan i am just as annoyed as you are. You're not the only one who lost a fave, i lost a good handful of characters i enjoyed using. Am i pissed off? sure i am, but i am not going to boycott a franchise i love dearly just because it has replaced some faces. This is still a great entry into the series, it just seems different to accept & adapt to at first, much like where Resi Evil & Silent Hill have gone with their recent offerings.
I guess what i am trying to say is, don't dismiss SCV just because it is absent of a few of your fave fighters because the gameplay is fantastic & you would be denying yourself of a great if slightly mistakened identity version of SoulCalibur.
As a long time fan, it does sting but give it a go, try some of the new blood characters & you may start liking this game. I still got Ivy but lost Talim & Zas & replaced those two with newbies Viola & ZWEI, who are very refreshing characters, but also hang onto SCIV as well for the Sophitia, Taki characters.
Btw if anyone wants a match so we can kick eachothers faces in, be sure to add me.
as far as I see, other than some less familiar faces, and the critical gauge which is not sth new, SCV is "MORE OF THE SAME" in its most blatant form…a 9.99 purchase for me at most.
Wow, pretty generous review. After trying this out and confirming the Single Player modes are as weak as everyone is saying online, I wouldn't rate this higher than a 7.0. Ezio is very cool though.
Eizo, is he much different to the apprentice? Another imbalanced guest character?
No Ezio isn't as imbalanced as The Apprentice.
Maybe you should try playing the game instead making assumptions because your feelings are crushed?
Give the game a rent, if you don't like it, cool, that is your opinion. But don't rub your butt hurt all over the comments page because you feel a little gutted over the loss of some veterans. Deal with it, try out some of the new characters & expand your skills with other characters instead of focusing on one or two.
Playing a game & not liking it is one thing, not playing a game & trying to cherry pick flaws for the sake of hating on something borders on pathetic.
Kevin, there are these things called question marks at the end of my sentences. See them? That means I was asking about it, not making an assumption about it. Perhaps you are the one making the assumptions?
Btw if anyone is up for a game, feel free to add me.
Very disappointing… yet so addicting… I hate myself 😛
Whaa another story mode on SC that is fail.Gonna wait until drop price.
Soul Calibur 3 remains to me the high point of the series followed closely by Soul Calibur 2. Soul Calibur 4 was almost soul-less because it pretty much lacked story and was arcade and online modes bolted onto a character creation engine. It sounds awfully like SCV doesn't fix the lack of story and instead makes things worse by throwing away some of the most familiar faces in the franchise and replacing them with uninspired copies of the originals. No real story mode – the story-board thing was done before and not liked. Online – had that with SC4. Create a Soul mode – been there since SC3. So what is it that this new version offers that the others do not?
SC3 had superior story modes for custom characters and story characters. SC4 had HD graphics and basic character story. SC2 had the best character story, and good graphics without the excellent create a soul element.
Seems to me that Project Soul simply lashed together the SC game framework and stopped caring at that point. There was an opportunity to broaden the game using the create a soul mode and having a deeper story mode for those custom characters like in SC3, as well as having a deeper story mode for the main characters. That opportunity has apparently been scorned along with certain iconic characters. Sad.
As for why people want a story mode. Simple, as Worlds pointed out, some of us still like solo game play.
Okay, where to begin. I half agree with you, but I don't in other areas. PS was not just trying to make a new Soulcalibur game; they were trying to refresh the series. That's part of motivation behind the 17 year time gap and as such you have to be realistic to understand there is no way you should expect everyone to return. Some fighters are naturally going to either retire, have new comers succeed them, or even die during that time gap. I like the fact they took a gamble with this choice. If there's anything wrong with the story, its that it provides little to no information about the fighters. We don't know about what happened to some veterans and the game doesn't explain why some of the new and old characters are there.
If you go to the game site, you'll find a lot more stories there than in the game itself. The story mode wasn't really bad, but it would've been much better if the events the website talked about were in the game. There were a lot of good stories about each character and its a shame they weren't used like it should've been. It's clear Namco put them there for players to read to save them time from putting them in. Characters like Natsu would've been better accepted if we learned more about her relationship with Taki and about what happened to Taki.
The "refresh the franchise" thing is little more than an excuse. It's not exactly a refresh when characters Dampierre are given a place in favor of others I could, but won't mention. I'm simply not buying this refresh excuse at all. There were and are plenty of ways to refresh the series without (as it were) tossing the baby out with the bathwater.
And excuse for what? The changes in the gameplay? The story timeskip? We all know the team broke up after SCIV came around; with a new team wouldn't you find it logical to attempt to do something different for the series? So what of Dampierre is in it? Just because you don't like him and think someone else should take his place doesn't make any decision about the timeskip an excuse.
Its sad that they wasted their time bringing back the old team to build SCV and the end result did not turn out so well. I and other expected great leaps forward since this was the original team coming back to built SC. Its either the team did a poor job or Namco forcing them to comply with their vision of the game.
Just to make things clear guys, if you're going to blame someone, blame Namco. They were the ones who rushed Project Soul into meeting this water tight deadline, hence the negative fanbase response. If Namco got off Project Souls balls for once, then given a few extra months in the oven, the game would have felt more complete because it would have been done in Project Souls own time.
You are right. This is a huge downgrade.
3 was the best, it had the shops, the campaign, good multiplayer, introduced create a character and had so many characters and in game lore it was better than many rpgs!
But since then it has plummeted in value.
I won't pay $60 for an online fighter.
I want my full SC experience!
It's disappointing about the story aspect. But I can't say that I'm surprised. I liked the original Soul Calibur largely because I was taken in by the story and lore that the game established. But when I got into Soul Calibur 4 I was disappointed because I sensed a definite downgrade in this area.
And now it seems the decline is only going to continue. Sadly I suspect that the Soul Calibur franchise is yet another victim of the industry trend of single player experiences being compromised for the sake of multiplayer.
It's a fighting game. Multiplayer is the top priority, not the single player. It doesn't excuse the poor story mode, but gameplay mechanical come first. It's not an rpg.
You seem to be indicating that the fighting genre is an inherently multiplayer oriented deal. But I disagree. As far as I have been able to tell single player experiences used to be the primary focus of video games with multiplayer being a complimentary feature and the fighting genre was essentially no different in this regard. Nowadays however it seems that the opposite way of thinking is often practiced. The new direction of the Soul Calibur franchise is perhaps an especially pronounced example of this shift.
And story isn't an inherently RPG thing either (as you also seem to be indicating). I believe that it has been demonstrated over the years that numerous kinds of games can benefit and have benefitted tremendously from story including the fighting genre (and yes even the FPS genre as well). This makes Soul Calibur's shift all the more unfortunate and especially since it used to be reasonably strong in this area.
Can't help but agree with you Looking_glass.
Speak with the actual tournament players and they'd tell you multiplayer is more important. It's always been the case and its a part of the nature of the genre. Did you know that SC was hardly ever taken seriously in the competitive scene? They've been trying to change that since SCIII. Hell, that's why PS had a different company write the story for SCV while they focus on the gameplay.
I prefer my fighting games to have a decent story for each character. I also prefer playing them solo, with the occasional online battle. Story plays (and used to play) an integral part of the experience, eg, the Tekken and Mortal Kombat franchises. I'll consider getting SC5 from the bargin bin in a few months.
I don't think we can make assumptions about what proportion of fighting game players actually play online regularly, nor can we ever know if online or competitive play motivates a great deal of people to buy this game.
Last edited by Dukemz_UK on 2/7/2012 4:01:14 PM
Doom. The game is not made for tournament players, it's made to sell millions of copies which means it should be made for gamers like me, that like characters and story and single player fun.
@ The Doom
Oh I don't deny that there are and have been fans of the multiplayer aspect of the fighting genre. And I don't deny that multiplayer has been a part of the genre or that the genre perhaps lends itself well to multiplayer.
But even so it seems that multiplayer didn't actually become the primary focus of numerous IPs in the genre (particularly to the point of the detriment and neglect of the single player aspect) until the general industry wide rise of multiplayer gaming which was of course likely brought on by the dramatic rise in popularity of multiplayer gaming.
Last edited by Looking Glass on 2/7/2012 4:06:44 PM
Highlander, looks like all developers are trying to cash in on the online multiplayer aspect of games these days. Maybe some of us "gaming oldies" should consider hanging up our gaming gloves in a few years hey? 😉
Never! I'll keep my backwards compatibility and hold it dear, protect my game discs and buy spares. I will not go quietly into the night, I will not fade from view. I will complain every time a travesty like this occurs however, and sign up for the crotchety old man T-Shirt in a few more years…
The day they start making games for a handful of "torunament" players and not of hobbiests like everyone else, is a day their company goes under.
I don't even know who these tournament people are. Why would I care?
Original SC for Dreamcast was a touchstone for me, one of the greatest games I ever played in any genre. Each sequel just interested me less and less though. Maybe I'll get this one on discount at some point. For now, Super Street Fighter 4 AE is where my fighting focus is.
I hate how before you start a ranked match online you don't know who your opponent is or his PSN or SEN now, name. This is really really bad as you might be pitched against someone who is WAY WAY better just because he is in the same Group D,E,C,etc. or you can be pitched against someone who is a ring out cheap ass and there is no way of knowing before you enter the match. I really miss that feature from SCIV. I could easily tell if someone was a cheapass, fair player, noob, etc.
No offense, but if you dislike the game over another player's bad tactics or complain about ringouts, spamming, and grabs, you suck at the game. Those things are all a part of the game mechanics. Avoid falling victim to those lame tactics; they only work once or twice anyway
Last edited by The Doom on 2/7/2012 9:09:49 PM
Anything constructive to add? lol
I have to admit the review score is very fair. Thats about right. Definetly not the caliber of SC2 or SC3 which were 9+ rated game or even close to the top rated fighting game of all time SC1 (gamerankings). My score 7.5-8 range. I bought the game cuz they had a pre-order discount of $20 so game costed $40 pre orderd which was pretty cheap if this was not there to lure me I would definetly wait until it goes down to $20-30.
I love Soul Calibur.
I hate Soul Calibur V.
The story mode was beyond terrible, it was painful to play through, it was so boring.
Who thought it was a good idea to tell the story through unmoving sketches? And Patroklos, Pyrra and Zwei? Dull. I miss the old days when you could take each character through story mode, even IV had that!
And in my opinion, III had the best campaign and best new roster.
Speaking of rosters, V's is stupid. They threw out so many favorites and added in three mimics and copies of old characters.
Besides Ezio, only Zwei and Viola were really new.
No Zasalamel or Rock? Pathetic.
Create a character is also overrated in this one. It actually has less options regarding clothes, and though you can finally change body size, it is limited.
And why can't they get new face models?
I traded it right back in.
Maybe after enough dlc is released to make it a complete game comes out or a price drop or a decent Vita version comes out…maybe then I'll buy it again.