Soulless Crap, more like.
Who is this game for? I wondered this the entire time I played it. The game feels like it wants to be both accessible to newcomers, while simultaneously trying to be up there in the ranks of games like Street Fighter or Tekken. This game doesn't come close to either.
The story is rubbish. Story mode greets you with a freaking brick wall of text full of writing that's terribly written, but not bad enough to be charming (like Samurai Shodown, for example). I don't think anyone out there cares about why Maxi is so apathetic or why Ivy is out for revenge.
Which brings us to the characters. Let me put it bluntly: the characters are straight-up boring. In terms of themes, everyone is filled with clichés out of C grade kung-fu movies. Character designs range from artistically dull to almost offensive. I wouldn't be suprised if this conversation took place during game development: "So Jim, how do we make our characters awesome-er?" "Uh...I dunno, put more muscles on 'em." "Even the women?" "No, for them just add hyperactive boob physics and take away their clothes."
This all leads to everything feeling immature and downright horrifying.
There are several single-player modes to choose from. Story and Arcade need no explanation (other than why I need to play both modes to unlock every character), but the Tower of Souls is a little different, at least on the surface. When you get down to it, though, the Tower of Souls is just a challenge mode and a survival mode. To put it simply, these modes suck. The challenge rooms are damn near impossible (not to mention frustrating) and the survival mode feels like a throw away feature.
The fighting itself is solid. Playing against an opponent of similar skill can lead to exciting matches. Other than that, though, there isn't much more to play. Single players are sort of boned here, because the modes are either too hard (Tower of Souls) or too easy (story).
Even the create a character mode feels mindless; the items are either ugly with good stats or cool-looking and useless. Also, I wasn't able to re-create a single game character accurately, no matter how hard I tried. I recall the character creator in Soul Calibur 3 to be just fine. What happened?
For me, the game felt needlessly complex. For some reason, the standard parry has been renamed to "impact". The soul crush and soul gauge aren't explained well at all, and the game explains a "just impact" by saying something along the lines of "an impact preformed at just the right time". It would've maybe been more helpful to know when that time was, or what the hell a just impact even meant.
So who is this game for? I found the answer after getting the acheivement for 200 impacts: this game is for twelve year old boys. The character designs seem like something a pre-teen would giggle at, the story is shallow and superficially 'epic' (much like some James Bond movies), and the game seems to pretend it's one of the legendary fighters (the Welcome to the new world of Soul Calibur! acheivement screams this). Sure, maybe the fighting system is overall pretty decent, but it's constantly undermined by pretty much everything else in the game. While Soul Calibur fans will certainly get a kick out of the mulitplayer, all the rest of us (in other words: all the normal people) should stay very, very far away.