SoulCalibur V Review

SoulCalibur V (Available on PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-2
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Project Soul
Release Date: January 31, 2012

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates SoulCalibur V T for teen because of Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, and Violence.  As a fighting series with no gore, the T rating is logical and practical.

Plays Like: Any other SoulCalibur.  Other 3D fighters such as Tekken and Dead or Alive.

Review Basis: Played everything the game has to offer.  Tried online battles, messed with the create-a-character, and played story mode.

SoulCalibur is back, and some might say better than ever.  Featuring a huge cast of fighters, a refined battle system that incorporates 2D weapon-based combat mechanics, SoulCalibur V is as simple or complex as you make it. Even the newest challenger can grab a controller and be lost for hours in this wonderful game.  That is, if they can figure out how everything works.

The Great:

The Critical Gauge. This addition dramatically changes the game, whether you like it or not.  Taken from 2D fighters, the two-bar gauge slowly fills as you fight.  Each participant can execute one Critical Edge move, a flashy mega skill that deals incredible damage at the cost of one bar.  Brave Edge attacks, which use less gauge, are enhanced standard attacks that allow for extended combos. The Critical Gauge also supports defense, such as to parrying. As a whole, SoulCalibur is a much more in-your-face fighter than ever.

The Good:

+ Critical Gauge limitations. Given the new gauge’s usefulness, Project Soul was wise to ensure that players can’t abuse it. You have to earn the power to use it.

+ Offensive focus rebalances defense. Block too much and your character automatically drops his/her guard, leaving you open to attack.

+ Eight-way movement returns. It’s also joined by the ability to side-step attacks by pressing up or down twice.

+ Interesting new characters. What’s not to like about having Assassin’s Creed’s Ezio join the fun?  He’s balanced, making him the best third-party character to join the SoulCalibur ranks. Other fresh faces borrow movesets from other characters, but they’re still fun to play.

+ Create-a-character returns. It offers an assortment of customization options: selecting a fighting style, altering your fighter’s appearance, etc. Creations can’t be used in the story mode, but work perfectly otherwise.

+ Refined online play. From smooth, lag-free gameplay (as long as you have a four or five-bar connection), to a spectator mode, profile cards and much more, SoulCalibur V proves it has the muscle to stay competitive.

+ Sensational animations, superb backdrops and all-around amazing visuals. SCV is the nicest-looking entry in a series that only continues to see refinements with each iteration.

+ Equally-impressive audio. From the crushing sound effects to the beautiful soundtrack, it’s all great.  Then again…the voice acting is cheesy as usual.

The So-So:

+/- Somewhat shallow modes. There’s something for all to enjoy, just don’t expect to stay engaged for long because the content is basic compared to other fighters. SCV at least brings variety to the table in the form of arcade, battle, story and online modes.

The Bad:

– Story mode.  Players are tasked to battle mostly forgettable challengers over and over through an equally forgettable plot. Where are the intricacies we enjoyed in SoulCalibur II and IV?

– Where are all the other favorite fighters? One must wonder if this was an intentional move designed for post-release DLC.

The Ugly:

All the changes made to an already technical fighter series means you need a solid tutorial to ease players into everything. SoulCalibur accomplished this through the story mode progression.  Now you’re on your own unless you consider a screen of text a tutorial.

The Lowdown:

SoulCalibur V reinvents the series.  Many of the new features can actually be traced back to Soul Edge.  The focus on offense, the penalties for playing strict defense, everything…comes together perfectly. If it weren’t for the poor story and lack of a proper tutorial, this would be a hit. For now, SCV is another excellent series entry with one of the deepest fighting systems devise, just not as well-thought-out.

Average Score Scale: 7.5 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: You can master the new mechanics quickly.  

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: You stumble and fail because of the potentially overwhelming changes.


2 thoughts on “SoulCalibur V Review”

  1. I’m really enjoying SCV, though I have a lot of issues with it.

    First, I’m pleased with the new characters. ZWEI and Viola are both unique and interesting, and they bring unique fighting styles to the table. Natsu, Leixia, and Xiba, on the other hand, provide a neat, re-balanced, and re-tweaked approach to several classic characters. Patroklos and Pyrrha are also pretty fun to play as. Though I have to say, the absence of Rock, Seung Mina, Talim, and Zasalamel surprises me, especially for Zasalamel. He had a really cool fighting style and is a relatively new character, so what gives? Also, why are there THREE all-weapon users? Kilik, Edge Master, and Elysium are all basically the same, in the sense that they can use the fighting style of any character. The only thing separating them are their Brave Edge super moves.

    The character editor is amazingly robust. This is easily one of the best features in SCV or in any fighting game to date. Players have a long list of equipment, weapons, items, and accessories to use for customizing both the existing roster and creating brand new original characters. Not only can you customize equipment and items, the options for fine-tuning character build and appearance are impressive. The character editor is a clear step up from the previous game. One especially pleasant bonus is that the fighting style of “Devil Jin” from Namco’s other 3D fighting game series, Tekken, is an option for custom characters.

    I am very let down with the single player content, not just for the campaign mode, but for arcade as well! Usually in a fighting game, you face down half a dozen characters, then a boss, and you get some story scenes. SCV doesn’t seem to do any of that. I wish they just integrated the campaign mode from SCII, because that was amazing. I know everyone recently points to MK9, but I say absolutely not (I didn’t care for that game much at all). I say you need to look back at SCII for good single player content. That was amazing. Also, why can’t you use extra weapons freely in a versus mode, like SCII? That made matches so much fun. Playing the “Extra” Arcade and VS. modes with those bonus weapons made matches more varied and interesting. Sure, it probably broke the game but it kept it fun.

    Still, despite my criticisms with the single player, I’m having a lot of fun. I played tons of versus matches and will keep playing. Nightmare FTW!

  2. Those are good comments Tim. I think the 7.5 about sums that up. I think the system really changes things up for the better but the lack of content hurts the overall package across all modes. They needed this system with a more robust feature set and this would have been something really special. Alas no. It’s a fun fighter, but they need to step up their game for VI.

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