Soul Calibur V review
just attack


Day 1:
I've had a lot to live up to. My oldest brother, Soul Edge, was the first to introduce 8-way running to fighting games, which had since become a fantastic addition in terms of smooth movement and strategy - in particular, the execution of a few attacks. It may not be as strategically demanding as fellow weapon based fighting game, Samurai Shodown, but Soul Edge had a rapport with people who were intimidated by SNK's somewhat tricky fighting games and people who think Street Fighter is for philistines. Let's face it, Street Fighter wasn't all that complex, nor was Mortal Kombat, because those games, at the most, required rotating the d-pad and pressing a button to use special attacks, while King Of Fighters required you to learn combos with such strict timing... but yeah, then my two bigger brothers, Soul Calibur 1 and 2, put the series on the map, telling everybody to watch out. Even their rivals, Tekkens 1-4, had to watch their backs, lest they get a sword in the back.

Day 2:
One thing my brothers did especially right was tell their stories. While other fighting games at the time wrote books, my brothers told their stories to audiences, either in the form of casettes that come with books or through a play - hell, Soul Calibur 3 even tried his hand at a motion picture. None of them were fantastic, but they did a splendid job of hitting where it hurts - although Soul Edge started it, it was Soul Calibur 1 who influenced fighting games to tell their stories in spoken word, rather than inside a book.

Day 3:
In an effort to live up to their legacy, I tried my hand at a more linear story. Mine was about a prettyboy named Patroklos, son of Sophitia. He's looking for his sister named Pyrrha, who was kidnapped by resident crazy bitch, Tira, manipulated to the dark side in order to wield the Soul Edge... you see, my tale takes place 17 years after Soul Calibur 4, in which Siegfried defeats Nightmare.

Day 4:
What a bad day. I slept through the alarm clock, missed the bullet train that took me straight to Namco headquarters, had to take a tram and two buses, and had to talk a long way. It didn't help that it was particularly windy that day. I mean, we've already experienced an earthquake and a tsunami - is this year one where we get hit by tornados and tsunamis? I hope not, but by the way it was blowing, it may as well be the tornado. As you'd expect, I lost a lot of paper, but I didn't care - I just wanted to get there.

I reached the front desk and submitted what was left - Patroklos wanting to rescue his sister, then Soul Edge and Soul Calibur are basically brought back into action involving the brother and sister, alongside brief mentionings of characters such as Ivy, Astaroth and Maxi, alongside newcomers Xiba, Lexia and Natsu. Surprisingly, Namco didn't care. They told me that it was a fantastic story and that they'd publish it. I thought they were joking - the story was absurd, even by Soul Calibur standards. The Soul Calibur and Soul Edge thing was shoehorned into what was essentially a plot where the brother loved his sister maybe a little too much and everybody else, even Tira, Nightmare and Siegfried, were reduced to short appearances because these people were in past Soul Calibur games, or have movesets based off of past characters, and... well, it's like watching a terrible segment of Robot Chicken - you know, the ones that just reference old characters without any wit, charm or even purpose beyond "*bleep* it, they existed at some point"?

I overheard the meeting in the board of directors room. They were talking about how shit the story really was. One said "seriously, was this kid even trying", and another one was like "it's like this was written by somebody from the Family Guy generation - hey, let's reference stuff because it's funny for some reason". The boss settled this discussion by saying "let's make it a mostly online affair". I was so prepared to say "but boss... I could just give you more", but I didn't want to give myself away, plus they seemed to have their hearts set on a mostly online multiplayer affair, and I didn't want to inconvenience them with anything more, nor do I want to inconvenience gamers with overpriced DLC that felt like they should've been in me. It felt like I had no choice.

I also shouldn't have forgotten most the storyboards - they had barely anything for the Korean animation studios to base any animations off of. I heard that they would just make up some storyboards and put those up as the majority of the cutscenes while animating the ones I did manage to deliver... that doesn't sound like a good idea. Putting sounds and voices over sketches on brown paper - I'll look like a joke if they go through with that!

Day 5:
I had managed to sit back and accept that I'm not even of the same pedigree as my brothers. They were mid paced fighters that focused more on attacking at the right times, and the younger they got, the more they focused on equipment that buffed certain stats, often at the expense of other stats. Logically speaking, I'd have to really place importance on equipment... but it feels like none of the equipment are any different from one another, beyond aesthetics. I have no idea why they did this, but I guess they just couldn't be bothered...

Day 6:
Wow, do I regret losing those pages or what... because I feel bad for the poor saps who couldn't wait for the next installment of the tale of souls and swords, only to be met with bare boned single player content. Sorry guys. All I have are two arcade modes - one a traditional time trial mode simply named Arcade, and the other an extremely hard time trial mode called Legendary Souls. I also have a mode where you face off against over 200 characters Namco created called Quick Battle. Nothing in here has a story - it's all put into a mode called Story, which just follows Patroklos and Pyrrha. So, so sorry I lost all of those pages.

Day 7:
It's not as if they gave me a lot of online modes, either. I have Ranked Matches, Player Matches (unranked) and a Global Coliseo, the latter of which allows players to just hang together while fighting one another. But while I'm basic, I don't lag like my big brother, Soul Calibur 4... well, unless you get in a match with 1 bar of connection, but even then, it's only a second. It may sound bad since fighting games, especially modern game ones, require split second commands, but it happens to them too... Besides, when it's at 2 or more bars of connection, it's smooth. It seems like we're getting there, at least.

Day 8:
This was when it started to feel like a freak experiment. Suddenly, I was more robust than my older brothers. I was given more combos to use, flashy attacks to give the younger gamers something pretty to look at while decimating the enemy, most of which could be accomplished by rotating the analog stick at random and mashing buttons. Well, maybe not quite as it pays to look in the Moves List in the Start Menu before, but still, I felt like I wasn't being played in the same way my brothers were.

On top of flashy attacks and combos, playing defensively was discouraged, as when you're guarding, you run the risk of a guard burst, which leaves you vulnerable for a few seconds, which is just enough for them to launch a super cheap combo on you - often a Critical Edge, one of two sorts of flashy moves which slices off a 1/3rd of your maximum health from your current health. Wow, since when did I turn into Blazblue? And seriously, why is my guard impact tied to the same meter that the flashy attacks are? So how come do people need to use up soul power in order to guard impact? Oh, but I have this thing called Just Guard, which has extraordinarily strict timing that I doubt many will get right without spending hours and hours practising - all of that time could be used on something more productive, wouldn't you say? I'd say so, but then Namco would cut off my head.

Day 9:
But I have something that Soul Caliburs 3 and 4 would be jealous of - more in depth character creation, giving my created characters access to more clothes, more coloring options, and even the ability to fully customize the game's characters. It's amazing what you can create, and as you level up your Player Level via winning matches and beating modes, you'll unlock more stuff to use! In hindsight, it seems pathetic to be proud of something that'd be a mere cosmetic thing...

Day 10:
I suppose it's about time that I've admitted to the world that I'm not a Soul Calibur game; I'm actually like every modern fighting game, full of fast and intense combos. I tried as hard as I could to resist, as did Soul Calibur 4, my big brother before me. However, the promise of riches beyond my wildest beliefs forced me to conform wildly to the latest fighting game trend; fast, flashy combat with emphasis on combos rather than equipment. My bigger brothers were all very disappointed in me for doing so, but I promised them that I'd come back a richer man, able to provide for the family.

Day 11:
But what am I talking about!? I'm a good game! I know it! I can get people into me! I can keep people playing! My newfound fastness just gives people, both new and old, something to enjoy more than those slugs I call older brothers! Yeah, sometimes, the AI does cheat with such impeccably timed moves and combos that it's criminal, but beyond that, I'll still provide a robust fighting engine that will draw you in due to how easy it is to learn how to fight, and keep you coming back due how hard it is to master the art of fighting. Sure, I don't have quite the depth in my single player modes as my older brothers, but what I have is still more than adequate in keeping your attention!

Yeah, I think I'll be just fine...

Day 15:
Although it felt like I sold myself to so many people, in truth, I had only been bought by 594,000 people - at least, I think so. I'm not sure, I stopped counting a while ago, and I want to make it seem a tad more impressive than what it actually was. But the reality is, I was considered an inferior product; mere filler, if you will. My big brother, Soul Calibur 4, outsold me 2 and a half fold, mainly because he didn't have much competition, while I was the gap between King Of Fighters 13 and the next behemoth in fighting that is Street Fighter X Tekken. Thoughts of a similar crossover game crossed my mind - what if I was in a crossover with Mortal Kombat? Imagine Nightmare slicing Siegfried in half and devouring his soul. Imagine Lizardman carving up that prettyboy dickhead Patroklos and eating him (a thought that had often crossed my mind as I was playing through the story mode - and while on the topic, I wished that I was Tira, and instead of manipulating Pyrrha's mind, I was having my way with her). That would make for a best selling game. Unfortunately, Tekken X Street Fighter would have no competition, because who wants to play Mortal Kombat like a Soul Calibur game?

But I'm prattling on - to summarize, I'm a failed experiment; a stop gap; Blazblue if it had Soul Calibur characters without the Blazblue characters; an inferior single player game in comparison to my brothers; a game that was practically online only with the staying power of a trendy restaurant - sure, I gave you some food and you enjoyed it, but I never saw you again because you'd rather eat at a more traditional restaurant while you wait for a McBurger King to be built. At the same time, I felt like I still accomplished something... like I at least gave you a competent experience, and if I was in a different family, I would've actually become more successful, but typical baby boy of the family, always left with scraps while the bigger brothers eat the tender meat that is the consumers' wallets.

Whew, it feels so much better getting it all off my chest!


Story: 1/5. Soul Calibur never had the greatest story in the world (3 came close to kicking ass though, I must say), but at least they tried. Here? Nope. Fanfic quality writing, only two characters got any sort of focus, and... oh man, it just felt like a 4 episode sequel to 5 movies!

Gameplay: 3.5/5. Although it doesn't really feel like a Soul Calibur game, it's still fairly tight, and its newfound speed does keep you interested. The online is basic, but it works out pretty well. Cheap AI does end up hurting this game pretty bad though, as does the general lack of single player modes.


Graphics: 4/5. As usual, this game looks *bleep*en gorgeous. Couple of meh quality textures aside, it looks just right... except the storyboards. No, just no.

Sound: 4/5. The soundtrack is pretty tits as each song makes the fights seem all big and epic with symphonies and shit, but the voice acting... is less than desirable as every performance was either hammy or dull.

Overall: 3.5/5. As a Soul Calibur game, it was pretty weak, lacking many things that made Soul Calibur what it was, plus it felt a tad too different. In essense, it has an identity crisis, as it only retains bits and pieces of its defensive play while going for fast and flashy, like every other modern fighting game. But beneath that does lie a good fighting game that still somewhat has the spirit of a Soul Calibur game, and really, you can never go wrong with a Soul Calibur game because they're all good games - this was a rare misstep by comparison, but on its own, it's good and certainly worth more than *bleep*ing King Of Fighters 13. Just wish they added more story, wrote a better story, had more single player content and kept a bit more of what made Soul Calibur itself than just the characters and the most basic elements of fighting games....

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