Review by MetaWaddleDee
"A game designed for the competitive player, not the casual."
SoulCalibur V seems to be a love or hate game. While some of the content may seem rushed, the core gameplay is the best the SoulCalibur series has seen since SoulCalibur 2. Although I'm required to give a number score on GameFAQs, this is a tough game to do that for. I don't feel that the 9/10 score will reflect every players experience with the game. This review will simply list the pros and cons of the game. Let's start of with the bad first.
-The story of the game is pretty much a huge joke. The game is set 17 years in the future, yet you'd never really catch that or even care. The hour to two hour long story mode focuses on about 4 characters, never really offering too much depth on any them. Characters like Viola who people were speculating to be Amy never have their history explained. There aren't character specific endings even in arcade mode. It seems especially odd to me that they would introduce an entirely new cast and not give them the proper introduction, and as a result the characters like Xiba and Natsu, among others, feel very empty. It's odd that they don't even have a gallery mode that explains the basic background of each character, since the website for the game actually has some brief explanations of each character making some of them seem more interesting. All they really had to do was add a gallery mode with these basic descriptions.
-While most characters that were taken out had some sort of suitable replacement, Zasalamel, Talim, and Yun-Seong do not. So if any of those three characters were your mains, then you're out of luck.
-Three mimic characters. This is just an abysmally stupid design choice that it continues to baffle me. They could have included Kilik as an alternate costume for Xiba, and just made Elysium use the Omega Pyrrha style. Overall it doesn't really detract from the game in my opinion, yet it does kind of hint at the game being rushed. (For those unfamiliar with what a mimic character is, it's essentially a character that randomly selects another characters playstyle to use. Examples from previous games would be Edge Master, Charade, and Olcadan.)
-Devil Jin's fighting style is executed horribly in this game. It's included as a style for custom characters, and not anywhere on the character select screen is there a main character that uses his style. Is he going to be banned at tournaments? Will tournament holders have to create a new character every time someone wants to use him? Hell, they should have just had Devil Jin as another guest character, since it was obvious they wanted to beef up the character select screen by adding three mimic characters.
-DLC on day one. The day I got the game I found out that there was already downloadable songs and custom character parts that you had to pay extra to have access to. Obviously these could have been added to the full game itself and is a clear example of Namco ripping off their fan base, not adding extra content. Also, the character Dampierre is available to people who pre-ordered at Best Buy, yet won't be available for anyone else for a while.
-The guest character in this game, Ezio, is not an entirely useless character. He does, however, have a fairly limited moveset. In his defense, though, he fits in much more with the setting of SoulCalibur than previous guest characters. While Star Wars is cool, the appearance of Darth Vader and Yoda in SoulCalibur 4 made no sense at all with the setting of the game, and The Apprentice was obviously shameless advertising.
-Most characters had some significant moveset changes. Some characters lost moves and stances entirely, while others had brand new moves added to their arsenal. Overall, I think it leans much more towards characters getting their moves cut. I don't think it's an entirely terrible thing, though, since SoulCalibur 3 and 4 started to feel really clunky with the excess of stances and moves for a lot of the characters. To put it in a better way, the characters all feel more streamlined now.
-There is now a meter system in the game, similar to what you see in nearly every other fighting game these days. Guard impacts now use up some of this meter, which is a good thing in my eyes. The gameplay no longer consists of single hit trade offs, with players afraid to continue some of their attack strings when blocked. This moves the game towards a more aggressive direction, while still giving experienced players the tools they need to deal with overly predictable players. Since guard impacts were changed, though, Project Soul added the Just Guard feature to the game. Basically, if you block an attack right as it hits you, you'll perform a just guard, which nullifies any block stun. So essentially this replaces the older function of Guard impacts, while being much more difficult to consistently pull off and offering a bit less of a reward when it is properly pulled off.
-In addition to guard impacts, you can use the new meter system to pull off Brave Edge moves. These are basically EX moves that you'd find in something like Street Fighter. The brave edge moves and functionality change from character to character. Yoshimitsu gets an upgraded version of his signature Manji Carve Fist that improves greatly on a counter hit, Astaroth gets annoying grab combos, and the guest character Ezio gets some flashy combos using guns. It's a nice addition overall that adds more strategic value to the game in my opinion.
-The last thing that meter can be used for are Critical Edge attacks. These are special moves that are unique to each character and are comparable to special moves in Street Fighter. Usually it's a flashy move that does a significant amount of damage. In SoulCalibur 4, Project Soul tried to incorporate flashy special moves in the form of guard breaks, but these never happened and nearly everyone forgot about them. They've finally found a way to add some flair to the game and make it a viable option in combat.
-The character creation is improved greatly upon what we saw in SC4. There are a large amount of armor and accessories available for people to customize their characters with. The actual number of equipment doesn't seem to exceed SoulCalibur 4 too much, if at all. They've added many other options to make your character unique, however. You can change the height of the character, which wasn't in previous games, as well as all the old options like modifying specific body parts. You can change the sound effects to weapons, add patterns to the armor, and change the color of your weapon. And when everything's done, you can take a picture of your character and customize the thumbnail to create an avatar that (hopefully) looks badass. The creation mode has plenty of other options, letting you do mock battles while in creation mode to see how your character looks in action. Also, aside from making your own characters, you can color edit the main characters of the game or give them a new outfit entirely.
-The online mode is hands down the best I've ever seen in a fighting game. Ranked matches are nothing new, with preset rules and random battles. But player matches are where the game really shines. The lobby system present in the game is just great. When you're spectating a match, you have a miniature screen that shows the current battle, as well as a chat window that let's you talk with the other spectators. Usually the chat windows are filled with poor trash talk and bad dick jokes, but the idea is cool nonetheless. In addition to this, you can add up to three other players to your rival list. In the menu selection screen before you go into any mode, off to the side you'll see a window comparing your progress with your rivals. You can see who has more playtime in certain modes, more custom characters, or better records in various single player modes.
-The one feature in online that I really love is the Global Colloseo mode. It's essentially a large lobby system that encourages players to chat back and forth, organize tournaments, and fight random player matches. The lobbies are separated by location, having you first pick a continent, and then a city within that continent. I'm worried people won't utilize this mode to the fullest and really hope it sees more use over time, because I was disheartened to see no one in the Minneapolis lobby. But if I moved to the New York lobby I saw many more people and it gave me an idea of the potential for such a system.
-As with any online game these days, the game includes a title system. Which brings us to the only single player mode worth playing, which is Quick Battle. You'll fight over 200 custom characters made by the developers and unlock a large variety of titles that you can use on your online profile. Honestly, if Project Soul had just named this mode Endless Tower Mode and had a note before you started it saying that you had to climb an endless tower fighting powerful foes to claim their title there might be less complaints about lack of single player modes. Calling it Quick Battle doesn't really describe what the mode really does.
-The training mode is as robust and detailed as any training mode should be in a fighter. It gives you a quick tutorial for each character, explaining their signature moves and why they're useful as well as giving you a handful of combos that are usually fairly useful. You can have the dummy do virtually anything you need it to, as well as simply recording inputs and having the AI repeat them. None of this is really new, but the amount of freedom in training mode gives players all the tools they need to experiment and come up with new fighting techniques or strategies.
-The graphics are gorgeous in this game. It's a definite step up from SoulCalibur 4, and the characters and stages are incredibly detailed. I was particularly impressed with the stages in this game. Some have detailed backgrounds with a lot of stuff going on, while others have multiple sections that change throughout the course of a match.
If you are a casual fighting game fan looking for a rewarding single player experience, STAY AWAY FROM THIS GAME. If all you need is good online, character customization, and solid gameplay, then this is the best SoulCalibur yet.
Score for competitive players: 9/10
Score for casual players: 4/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/06/12
Game Release: SoulCalibur V (US, 01/31/12)
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