Possibly one of the best fighting games of the last decade has been the SoulCalibur series, the mystical characters, the amazing graphics and beautiful backgrounds. Added to that the great fighting mechanisms and various special moves have made this a hit amongst all fans. Namco have given us the newest version known as SoulCalibur V, since it’s teased release this has been very hotly anticipated. How good is it really?
First let’s begin with the story, we pick up 17 years after SoulCalibur IV and after Siegfried has killed Nightmare. The main character is , who is the son of Sophitia (who was killed by Malfestead). We join him in the search for his mother’s killer and along the way find his sister Pyrrha. It’s a typical story of revenge and compassion but it’s told in a very cool way. As is the usual for this series, the writing is excellent and everything makes sense, well mostly. The cast of characters is vast, lots of old faces and a hell of a lot of new ones. Altogether there are 25 fighters to choose from with 12 of them being new. Nightmare is back in an all new body, wielding the massive sword as before. Guys favourite Ivy is back looking as sexy as ever with her snake sword. Voldo, Raphaeal, Cervantes, Maxi, Misturugi and Yoshimitsu are also amongst the returning favourites.
They are joined by the brother/sister team of Patroklos (holy sword and shield) and Pyrrha (the Omega sword and shield). Natsu who is a disciple of Taki from the older games. Not only are there brand new characters but there are characters which are very similar to previous characters, including Xiba who looks and plays strikingly like Kilik. Oh, did I mention the final and most amazing character? Mr Ezio from Assassins Creed is present, this is the younger Ezio, he fights with an array of devastating weapons including daggers, swords, crossbows and even a gun. His style is a mix of a few of the characters in game, but I will leave it up to you to discover who.
Whilst its very good to have new fighters to choose, it’s all in the gameplay mechanisms. Fighting games live and die by the movements and moves they give. There are many new features in this game which Namco have implemented very well. The biggest and best feature is the quick step, which allows you to step around your enemies and begin your moves. It’s the base move that most fighting fans want and Namco have listened. The gauge is back but this time this needs to be charged with blocks and deflections to unleash the new super moves known as “brave edge” and “critical edge”.
Not only are these super powerful they look stunning. The guard impact is the best way to stop most attacks and begin a counter attack of your own. This, in my view, is a much more complete fighting game, there are still some bugs in the movements but these are very minor. The legendary Soul mode is the story mode and it’s a typical SoulCalibur fight-fest. The versus screen shows your characters represented by cards next to each other and we begin the game with a few choice words from each person before the fight is on.
The fights themselves are fluid and smooth. The moves are initiated easily and quickly. The throws looks fantastic, in fact the whole game is a treat for your eyes. The backgrounds and the stages themselves are made with such detail it’s untrue. Overall, there are over 20 of these stages and some are even multi-levelled, meaning you can knock them down and into a new level. The whole game looks beatufiul and is designed with a lot of love. The music is lovely with each character having their own theme tune. The sounds of the swords hitting the armour have a pleasing sound to them and it feels very satisfying. The character voices are as cheesy as ever and their sayings are generic, but its ok. There are also other modes including Arcade, Training, Quick Battle and Versus. Training mode is where you can perfect your skills by making the CPU perform various actions as you battle away and find your combos and fighting technique.
The best mode, in my view, is the Versus one. There is nothing better than beating your mate next to you and in SoulCalibur V this is even more fun. The Quick Battle is just that and the Arcade mode sets you against various fighters with various stipulations. A welcome addition is the Customisation mode where you can create everything, including characters, clothes, weapons, fighting style and appearance. It adds a new level to connecting with your character since he/she is your creation which may make you fight that bit harder. There is also an online mode where you can get your ass kicked by an 11 year old, as well as chatting and swapping replays of your best fights. The online battles are as satisfying as ever and quite easy to find opponents. This adds a lot to the replay value as you always want to keep playing and beat them.
Overall, I believe this to be the best SoulCalibur to date as the fighting is getting close to perfection. The locations are stunning and the characters have such detail it’s great to see a game look so good even though the previous games looked as great as they did. The new gameplay options adds to the fighting as the quick step quickly becomes one of your most valuable moved. The various guards and the special moves are beautiful to behold. This is truly an arcade game that has found its home. The online and customisation tools add replay value and this is a game that you will just keep playing with your mates. Two swords, two generations, one destiny, take it, it’s yours.
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