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'Soul Calibur V' fun but lacking in staying power

By Nick Bailey
On January 31, 2012

When I first looked at trailers for "Soul Calibur V," I was excited to see the series continue and move forward in what looked to be a more story-based fighting game. After playing the game for a bit, I have some seriously mixed feelings about this game.

This seems like a game of proteges for the most part, as this installment introduces multiple new characters that favor veterans of the Soul series. It's disappointing to see them remove some of my favorite characters - Taki, Talim, and Zasalamel - but I guess if they didn't play a role in the story mode there wasn't much need to include them, unless you count multi-player experience.

The story mode gives a decent look into the backgrounds of some of the new characters, but don't really take the time to introduce everyone. The protagonist this time around is Patroklos, who is actually the son of Soul veteran Sophitia (also not a playable character). Through the beginning of the story mode he sets out killing people known as "malfesteds" which helps him find his sister Pyrrha. Through his mostly lackluster journey, he finds his sister, goes kind of crazy, and gets treated like crap. I wish they had taken the time to animate the cut scenes rather than just narrate storyboard sketches and include a handful of well-produced cinematic scenes. It's almost as if they started out with the intent to animate the entire thing, but ran out of time and money so they just had to wing it.

The lonely gamer takes a serious loss with this game, given that there is only one storyline to play through as opposed to each character having their own life. Once you beat it, you've beat it. That's it. While in previous games in the Soul series there were many single-player game options - story mode, arcade mode, team battle, survival, etc. - SCV only comes with a handful of options to chose from. This is one aspect that makes this a horrible game in the Soul series.

I'm a bit disappointed in the development of the game from "Soul Calibur IV" to "V" when it comes to graphics. At first glance, it really didn't look like much had been changed as far as graphic elements go. Objects are still oddly shiny for no particular reason, other than for the sake of trying to make this game look extra fantasy-like. Seriously, some of these characters shine more than Twilight vampires.

The actual fighting in "SCV" is a slight upgrade from its predecessor. The movement during fights is crisp and has to be more thought out than before, so button mashing with characters like Maxi isn't always going to work. One thing that helped out a lot in this game was the ability to quickly sidestep opponents' attacks rather than just hoping your character walks fast enough. Most of the characters got slight changes to their moves sets, but it isn't much to speak of in most cases.


Critical finishes are out the window this time around, but they've been replaced with Brave Edge and Critical Edge attacks. These two new attack styles are similar to special attacks in other popular video games, so many gamers can quickly relate to the format used in "SCV". Some of the new characters are pretty cool, and I hope to see their potential explored in the future. They've also introduced a new stats gauge for the characters which is easier to understand, so users can assess each character's ability before hand.

Multi-player modes are still pretty decent, and they have changed things up as far as online game play goes. I like the new ability to search for opponents based on your location, but the wait time for a fight can be a source of frustration. There are a good handful of options to pick from in the online experience, so the lonely gamer still has some options.


The create-a-character mode has been modified to make things a lot simpler, which is both good and bad. It looks like they were more comical with the customizable options this time, so making that character that looks like he'd kill anything he came across can be difficult. However, from what I can tell, they've done away with the statistical pros and cons of different items, which is a huge win in my opinion. Now I can make a ninja and not worry that his stats will drop because of lightweight clothing and weapons.

Overall, I would say that "Soul Calibur V" is a decent game to play with friends, but don't expect to have much of a serious one-on-one relationship here. I would suggest renting this game before making the commitment of purchasing it.

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