Review SoulCalibur V

Written by Twisted Ideas

SoulCalibur V is the 6th main installment in the Soul series that started with Soul Edge in 1996 published by Namco. The Soul series is a 3D fighting game based around weapon combat set in the 17th century mixing several cultures together. Many characters make a return but several have been succeeded. Does the soul still burn?

Story

The plot takes place 17 years after the events of SoulCalibur IV after Siegfried destroyed Soul Edge and Nightmare. Those infected by the Soul Edge still wander the earth and Siegfried continues to fight. The Soul Edge has returned once again but Siegfried is no longer the master of Soul Calibur. Patroklos and Pyrrha, the descendents of Sophitia and the new masters of Soul Caliber and Soul Edge. Patroklos has to destroy the Soul Edge and save his sister from it’s influence at the same time.

Game Modes

SoulCalibur V has several modes off and online. Offline has the traditional arcade mode but lacks character endings. Quick battle is a list of 240 CPU opponents divided into different skill brackets. You receive titles for your online profile upon victory. Legendary Souls pits you against seven difficult CPU opponents. Story mode is the twenty chapter plot of SCV. Each chapter has a fixed character to use and playing through story mode unlocks most characters faster than leveling up. Then there is your traditional VS. and training mode.

SCV has an in-depth character creator. You gain experience and level up your profile as you play the game unlocking customizable parts You can create an original character or create new appearances for the cast. When creating a character you will have to give them a soul of a character giving them an identical fighting style. Assassin’s Creed’s Ezio Auditore’s soul cannot be used for creation but Tekken’s Devil Jin’s soul can be unlocked. Both genders can use any soul, you can alter size, height, voice and there are hundreds of customizable parts. All equipment’s color can be changed and if it has multiple colors they can be edited independently.

Online has your traditional fighting game ranked and player matches. You can choose the region, connection strength and skill level when searching for players. After a ranked match you can upload a replay and search immediately using the previous criteria. Player match is where you and friends or strangers can play multiple games together. There is a chat feature built into the player lobby so you don’t have to create a message in the XMB or XBL. Global Colosseo is a series of 100-player lobbies. Here you can chat, play matches and even start tournaments. You can to register up to three rivals to follow. When online you can see their rank and their accomplishments.

Game Mechanics

SoulCalibur V is a four button fighter and by default matches are 3 out of 5 with each round lasting 60 seconds.

AHorizontal attacks –  effective against sidestepping

BVertical attacks –  effective against Horizontal attacks

KKicks – typically weaker but fast attacks.

GGuard – Protects you from taking damage. Standing guard blocks Mid and High attacks. Crouching guard blocks Lows. There are several unblockable moves in the game.

8-Way Run – Holding the joystick in any of the eight directions enables you to walk continuously. Anytime while walking you can perform an 8-Way Run moves different from standing directional moves. You can trigger quick step by double tapping a direction enabling 8-Way Run on the spot.

Throws – Most throws are performed by pressing A+G or B+G. Throws cannot be blocked but can be ducked or counted by pressing A or B for the respective throw. Throws can be used for easy damage for a defensive opponent, positioning or to get ring outs.

Ring Out – Most stages have an out of bounds areas. If a player is knock off the stage they will lose the round. Some stages have no ring outs and others have destructible walls.

Counter Hits – If you hit an opponent during an attack then you will get a Counter Hit. Counter Hits increase hit stun and some moves crumple opponents. Some combos are only possible on Counter Hit.

Wall Hits – Some attacks can push players against walls keeping them standing to extend combos.

Air Control – If you are launched in the air you can press a direction to guide you character. You can use this to escape juggle combos or save yourself from a ring out. You will not always be able to air control depending on the moves used.

Guard Break – If you block too often your health bar will flash yellow then red. If you continue to block when red you are in danger of a guard break leaving you stunned and open to attack. Break Attacks cause high guard damage causing GB quickly.

Just Guard – Blocking at the moment of impact will trigger Just Guard. Just Guard cancels block stun while your opponent’s move continues harmlessly leaving them defenceless .

The biggest change in SoulCalibur V is the Soul Gauge. In SoulCalibur IV it used similarly to the guard gauge and if it broke you could use a Critical Finish to end the round. Now it’s like Street Fighter 4’s super meter. You gain meter as you fight and take damage. Your soul gauge has two bars and you gain one full bar at the start of your last round in danger of losing the match.

Brave Edge – certain moves can be enhanced by pressing A+B+K immediately after the input. Brave Edge uses 50% of one bar and changing the properties of that move.

Guard Impact – This mechanic has been altered and now uses 50% of one bar. Pressing Back A+B+K triggers Guard Impact and stunning opponents if they attack while it’s active. Some characters have moves or Critical Edge moves that performs GI without using meter.

Critical Edge – An alteration of critical finish, Critical Edge uses one full bar for a high damage attack. It is a comeback factor and most can be used in combos. The command is QCFx2 A+B+K. The type and properties of CE varies for each character.

Graphics

SoulCalibur has always had exceptional graphics and V is no exception. The level of detail in the characters, the stages and even the clothing and equipment is outstanding. These aren’t the greatest graphics that we’ve seen in a game before but nothing is boring to look at.

Final Thoughts

Characters have large move lists ranging from 40 and more including stances. If you are new to 3D fighters and want to be good SCV can be daunting. The game doesn’t provide any teaching tools other than character move lists and some bread and butter combos. Once you understand how the game should be played offence becomes easier but defence is the hardest thing to learn in SoulCalibur. Some characters have several Mid/Low mixups and abusable moves that deal high damage. Matches can end quickly if you repeatedly make wrong guesses.

Critical edge is frustrating not because of the damage or combo potential but because they are too safe. They start up so fast that you can be punished full screen if you’re not already blocking. Skilled players are less likely to get hit by random CE’s but it is unfair that most are almost impossible to punish

I am disappointed that there isn’t something akin to SoulCalibur II’s Weapon Master mode or that there are no character endings or even a definitive boss character. New characters are given some context in the story mode but the returning cast that aren’t featured have no context in the game. This feels lazy coming from Namco Bandai whose Tekken series has fully animated character endings plus lengthy offline content. Online connections are great assuming that you have a 4 or 5 bar connection but that isn’t the case of many people. SoulCalibur doesn’t have strick timing for combos but it does for punishing so the laggy connection for 1-3 bars can cost you matches. Searching for players can take a long time and you may time out in ranked matches. What surprised me the most was how fun the character creation was. I love the level of detail and the creations you can make and I’ve spent more time then I would expect in that mode.

SoulCalibur V is fun but difficult to learn. Between this Tekken and Virtual Fighter SoulCalibur is easily the most accessible 3D fighter. While there isn’t enough to do offline if you have friends or willing to grind it out online then SoulCalibur V is definitely worth your time

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