After Soulcalibur IV released four years ago, fans were left wondering whether there would be another main entry into the franchise. However, following online petitions Namco Bandai and Project Soul caved - Soulcalibur V was the result. In many ways, the game doesn't stray too far from its roots, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, the Soulcalibur franchise has always had a strong reputation for its ability to make weapon-based combat fluid.
Soulcalibur V mixes things up a bit by introducing a host of new characters and removing some of the stalwart characters from the franchise. Gone are heroes such as Cassandra, Seong Mi-Na, Talim, Rock and Taki and in their place we have Leixia, Natsu, Patroklos, Pyrrha and Z.W.E.I. There are of course still plenty of household names though, with Siegfriend, Cervantes, Voldo and Mitsurugi appearing yet again.
The story focusses on the quest of Patroklos, as he looks to be reunited with his sister, Pyrrha. They're the son and daughter of Sophitia, but end up on opposite sides of the war. Patroklos must wield Soul Calibur, while Pyrrha ends up wielding Soul Edge. Conflict is therefore inevitable.
It doesn't quite have the quality of some of the past installments, but at least there's still a consistent narrative that allows you to experience different characters, or variations of the same characters. It gives you a reason for fighting, and that's good enough.
When it comes to gameplay, the core is still there. However, Project Soul has attempted to bring the game more in-line with what other fighting games are offering. For that reason, there are quite a few additions to the mix.
For example, you're now able to perform "Brave Edge" and "Critical Edge" attacks. These are akin to super moves, which have become common place in 2D fighters, allowing you to charge your Critical Meter and execute a powerful attack. The more bars you've charged, the more damage your attack will do.
Guard Impact has also been modified to make it more difficult to perform, but also slightly more forgiving. Whereas in previous games, you had to press block + forward at the correct time, now you must press every button + back. However, you don't need to account for the height of the attack, but some of your Critical Meter is used upon a successful Guard Impact. It's also possible to perform a Just Guard, which is the result of blocking at the exact moment of the strike.These changes help to mix things up a bit, with Critical Edge attacks allowing combo chains to be continued with powerful attacks. Of course, where this appears in your combo will depend on the character you're using, as they all do rather different things.
Outside of the core fighting, Soulcalibur V offers a host of different modes. You, of course, have the story campaign, but there's also Legendary Souls, which pits you against some rather difficult AI. These are then complimented by the traditional Arcade, Quick Battle, Vs. Battle and Training.
Quick Battle is especially interesting, with you able to pick your next opponent from created characters. On this screen, you're able to see selected stats on your opponent, including what "title" you opponent has and beating them allows you to steal it for your own personal use.
From the perspective of graphics, Soulcalibur V is a decent looking game. The environments featured in the game look wonderful, and the moderately destructible walls surrounding the ring on some levels look much better than they have in previous iterations. It's also nice to see some other characters appearing, such as Ezio Auditore da Firenze, from the Assassin's Creed franchise. There's also Devil Jin from the Tekken franchise.
Character creation returns and it's as robust as ever. It's something the Soulcalibur franchise has become rather well known for. You're able to base your character off of an existing fighting style, while pretty much allowing them to look like whatever you want. Seeing what people come up with is half the fun.
Where Soulcalibur V will probably be most successful is with its online play. You're able to use created characters online, but it can be a rather competitive scene if the community embraces it to the fullest.
Soulcalibur V is a strong entry into this long-standing franchise, but it doesn't do much to break the mould. Yes, there are some changes to the core gameplay and the roster has been mixed around, but at the end of the day, it's still Soulcalibur. By now, you'll have formed your own conclusions about this franchise - it's not going to convince anyone who previously wasn't interesting - but fans should still rather enjoy this all the same. After all, it's what they asked for.
|Ezio Auditore da Firenze works rather well.|
|Character creation is pretty awesome.|
|Core gameplay changes mix things up a bit.|
|Will do little to convince people who haven't bought it before, that this is the time to jump in.|
|Some core characters have been excluded.|
|Story lacks the quality of past installments.|