Review by Shunichiro

"Damage done to my soul"

To understand the fall of Soul Calibur which Soul Calibur V ultimately represent, I must take you through a short history lesson chronicling me and my relationship with the series. The first time I saw any of Soul Calibur games was at a video games exhibition where I played the Japanese version of Soul Calibur II running on Nintendo Gamecube. I chose Talim as my fighter and fell in love with the fast and fluid combat mechanics and gameplay. And Talim too. I got the game for my Xbox and played the hell out of it, most of my time spent on the excellent and vast Weapon Master mode.

With great anticipation I bought Soul Calibur III upon its release, this time published exclusively for PS2. I enjoyed the branching stories for each character and overall good execution - even though the game tempo was slower than in Soul Calibur II - but there was nothing like Weapon Master mode on offer. Instead they presented a strange strategy game which I barely touched. Most of the time was spent on the story mode then, trying to find proper paths for my favourite characters, one of them being Tira, a new additon to the cast. Also, Create a Soul was introduced for the first time. Even though you hardly could play with CaS characters in other modes, you could choose from weapon styles none of the official fighters represented. Oh I just loved my purple-skinned and white-haired ninja girl with knives and bombs!

Come this generation and Soul Calibur IV. I was foolish enough to buy it at the full price the moment it appeared on the shelves. Foolish because the game didn't live up to my expectations - not by a long shot. First of all, what happened to once great graphics? Surely, on a new generation they should have looked better than ever before, no? No, they didn't. Maybe on a technical level but not artistically. Caramel colours and shiny edges highlighted impersonal character models. And again, the game speed was slower. Also still nothing like Weapon Master. The tower just wasn't the same. CaS was restricted as you could choose only the weapon styles from the game's cast. Because of the candy floss graphics engine, CaS characters turned out one after another to be just replicas of each other. Adding Star Wars characters to the mix was a desperate move and didn't work at all.

Once bitten twice shy, I resisted any notions to buy Soul Calibur V. Instead I rented it from the library. I'm glad I did. Even though I knew not to expect much this time around, Soul Calibur V still managed to disappoint me on every possible level. Most of the familiar and great characters are gone and replaced with their cheap copies with obnoxious personalities and unimaginative naive looks. Some of the omitted characters, like Talim, don't even have their weapon styles represented in the game anymore. It feels like the game's producers and designers knowingly peed us in the eye as they deliberately dropped out some of the fan favourites. I have no idea how anyone in their sound minds could have thought this new roster could replace tried and tested personas. (This kind of atrocity would never happen for example in Virtua Fighter or Dead or Alive series. They keep the roster from game to game, only adding a select few quality characters each time.) There are no Star Wars puppets this time but Ezio Auditore from the overrated Assassin Creed series. No thanks. I don't like him here either.

The graphics engine is the same used in IV so the game looks just as gaudy and kitsch and the character models as lifeless and stiff. The fighting engine has suffered again. The game speed is slower than ever and what's worse, the game has became clumsy, cumbersome, slow and simply awkward to play. There's absolutely no flow or momentum to the combat anymore. New Critical Edge system isn't any gaming revolution either. It's just Project Soul's name to "super moves" usually associated with Capcom fighters.

And there's nothing to play for me. I don't care for online play much and to be honest, I didn't even try it out. The story mode centers mainly on one playable character, the new hero of the game, Patroklos. With his blonde curly hair and big, wet eyes he makes Raiden from MGS look like a man in comparison. Not to mention his clumsy moves and lethargic weapon style isn't for a player like me who favours characters quick in their moves. All the other offline modes are short jokes and there are no stories for other characters. It's as if they didn't matter anything anymore in the game's mythology. When CaS is as mediocre as it was in IV, Soul Calibur V has nothing left to offer. It's just a sad, dead game and to put it bluntly, the worst fighting game this generation has seen.

Oh, but what about newcomers to the genre and/or series, those who don't know anything about previous Soul Caliburs or don't care how it has been downgraded to the bottom in quality? Maybe this is a good game for them? Maybe, but even in that case there are way better fighting games around. Like, anything else in the genre but this, to be frank.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 10/23/12

Game Release: SoulCalibur V (EU, 02/03/12)


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