Critical Finishers in Soul Calibur

#1 Edited by DocHaus (1760 posts) -

They don't go so well together.
Okay, let me flesh that out a bit. I skimmed through a copy of EGM at a bookstore one day (did you know that EGM still exists in dead tree format? Also, I guess I'm part of the problem). There was an article about the upcoming Soul Calibur V and one of the things that caught my eye aside from the usual PR-speak was the news about Critical Finishers making a return to the game.
For those of you unaware or who don't remember what they were, here's a reel of the various Critical Finishers.


A Critical Finsher was essentially an "I Win" button to punish people who blocked all the time. It had three components: a piece of the enemy's armor had to be broken (doesn't matter which), their Soul Gauge (little glowing ball next to their health bar) had to be blinking red, and then you had to press some shoulder button to trigger it. Honestly, I think it was a bad choice (among others) to put in Soul Calibur IV, but for the most part it was useless outside of a few special battles because you would never get those conditions just right before you were struck down the old-fashioned way, by which I mean a cheap ring out.  
Back to the article though. The developer said that Project Soul had received a lot of feedback about the game and the problems with the Critical Finishers were an example. As shown in the E3 trailer, they will be returning in some form to the fifth game. But now they are trying to find a way to make people use them more, yet not turn them into an instant "I Win" button.
Even though there is very little chance that of the people working on SCV are reading this right now, I still feel the need to put down a small list of what I think could be done to fix the problem with these Critical Finishers. Even if this is only for posterity's sake, at least I'll have something to point to "what went wrong" when the game comes out if the Critical Finisher system was barely changed.

Solution #1: Make them Super or Ultra, but not Critical!

Look at the many, many 2D fighting games on the market. They have various systems where any character can call upon a special attack after beating the stuffing out of the opponent, or as a way to make a comeback when half your health disappears. And even then, not all special attacks are alike: some of them require the opponent to be in close range. Others work from far away to punish projectile-firing opponents. Some work as a highly-damaging counter attack when timed properly. And unlike Critical Finishers, they are not simply "I Win" buttons. You actually have to time it so that the opponent won't smack you out of your special attack, dodge, or block it and accept the chip damage. 

Hey, if this hits, I am going to look so cool with the ladies afterwords!

What I'm saying is that if you're going to include these things, put them in so that they do not instantly kill the opponent. Put them in as a reward for good gameplay, or a handicap for those finding themselves behind (the Super/Ultra attacks in SSF4 work for both). Use it to make the game more exciting and to add a new layer of strategy to the thing, not to immediately shut down the momentum of the round. That way, more people will use them, and they won't have to be worried about one-hit KOs if they have a decent amount of health left.

Solution #2: Be dramatic, be cool, but show some blood!

Okay, I understand if you want a lower rating and you don't want the extreme blood and guts of the Mortal Kombat fatalities.

Hey honey, I brought you some fresh meat!

But look how lame some of those critical finishers are in the reel above! Yoda uses his lightsaber to deliver a stern talking-to to our ol' buddy Starkiller. Cassandra queefs giant pink hearts from her nether-regions (you think I'm joking? Watch the clip!). Astaroth slams his battle axe down and gingerly drags the enemy around before throwing him off-screen. Now I'm not an expert in weaponry but when you slam a giant axe into someone they shouldn't be just lying there with a pained expression on their face. Then again, that's more of a poke against the series as a whole, that the weapons have no feel of danger to them and you might as well be fighting with Nerf Bats the whole time.

 The winner gets to mo-cap Darth Maul's character in SCV

So fine, leave the ambiguous ouchies for the normal moves, but if you're going to have Critical Finishers that kill the opponent dead Once And For All, then show someone's head getting cut from their body. Show limbs being cut off. Show just a teeny bit of blood after a character gets stabbed by 50 consecutive sword thrusts. You know much more powerful and awe-inspiring Yoshimitsu's finisher would be if Mitsurugi's head got chopped off? Instead, after a flash of light the samurais just lying on the ground, taking a nap while his spirit is sent to the Next Dimension. While I would prefer Solution #1 (and this could still work in tandem with it), if it is not feasible, then put in a little more realistic violence for the finisher to make it worth seeking out by skilled players.
Also, don't play the cinematic at the start unless the opponent is caught by the initial strike. When you take away the opponent's ability to dodge or block a Critical Finisher, that is just poor gameplay mechanics.

Solution #3: You know what? Just burn it down.

If neither of those are viable solutions, then just rip out the Critical Finishers. Use whatever excuse you want. But look at the Tekken series: they don't have any Ultra Combos or super-fancy Distortion Drives and the game is possibly the best 3D fighter around by simply improving the core gameplay. They have 40 different characters with 40 different martial-arts styles that are loosely based off actual fighting techniques (Leo's baijiquan, Hwoarang's taekwando, Miguel's drunken barfighting). You've got people with about 20 different types of weapons, you've got more leeway on this one to make the gameplay better. You don't need to spruce it up with cinematic finishers that players will rarely even use.
Remember how good Soul Calibur II was? Return to those roots, back before you had "create-a-character" modes that was really just putting the most hideous fashions possible on characters that ultimately were just clones and palette-swaps of already-existing characters. Even the ones that were designed by anime artists (I liked Shura, but c'mon, she was exactly like Cervantes with slightly better range). You didn't worry about stupid things like Critical Finishers back then, but you had good gameplay and a challenging story mode. Do that instead. Focus on your roots. A revival of the franchise saved the newest Mortal Kombat, it can save your franchise too, though I expect SCV will have to crash and burn before you learn that lesson.
As I said at the top, I don't expect anyone of consequence will read this, but these are my thoughts on Soul Calibur and Critical Finishers. Also, EGM's dead-tree format was revived somewhat, so those of you who were fans might want to check it out.
#2 Edited by Kyreo (4683 posts) -

Wait.... Darth maul is gonna be in Soul Cailber 5? Don't toy with me you fiend!

But yeah, the game has to maintain it's T rating somehow. I mean, the hits are satisfying but the weapons would slice people in half, MK style. I wish it was rated M and gory like Mortal Kombat because then the weapons would feel dangerous.

#3 Edited by TheFreeMan (2712 posts) -

Ugh, I hated Critical Finishers in SCIV. Happened more than once where I'd be up against someone who was all offense and button mashing and I managed to block their attacks perfectly by got punished with a Critical Finish before I could finish them off. I'm all for the Ultra/Super suggestion.
As for blood and gore in Soul Calibur, personally, no thanks. I find the fact that people are getting wailed on with huge weapons without bleeding at all kind of endearing. 
Actually, looking at that reel of critical finishes, they do look rather anticlimatic, especially the samurai ones. Some blood, even just a spray or something would help it look more impressive.

#4 Posted by Habast (106 posts) -

They are going to be specials, like Street Fighter. I'm glad the one-hit-kills will be gone, excited to see the finished product.
I wouldn't mind blood, but it doesn't make a game cooler. The only time blood can effect the "coolness" rating of a game is when it's so excessive that the game is just so classless that I'll hate it. I don't mind blood, but I don't get kicks out of disemboweling my opponent and painting the walls with their entrails. If you do, then you need to see a psychiatrist. 
Also, blood would make my younger brother not allowed to play it and I wouldn't be allowed to play it until after he went to sleep, which is sometimes not until 11 or so (my mom is very strict with games), which would suck.

#5 Posted by RaikohBlade (603 posts) -

You don't need blood to make it awesome. That's a common misconception among this generation. Indeed, critcal finishers were useless in SC4, and they will probably be just as useless in SC5. Also, I don't think they should include Street Fighter-style Ultras or anything. That would make too many changes to the classic Soul Calibur formula. I would say that the best thing to do would be to remove critical finishers from the game, and make sure the core gameplay is the best that it can be. If the developers use SC2 as a guide, they'll be able to make it a good game.

#6 Posted by BadNews (609 posts) -

They already said in one video ( I believe GB has it up as a generic interview that wasnt with the gb crew or anything) that the critical finishers will be put into the game and with in the same few sentances said that they are aiming for faster more fluid gameplay while having the hits have more impact as to make it like a current fighter such as street fighter. I am largely paraphrasing from memory and my own understanding but yeah I think they are aiming for critical finishers as ultras. mid combat and you slip them in a combo. Also I liked the CF in SC4 since i would randomly pull it off online and it was very gratifying considering how hard they were to pull off with those conditions. The trick to avoiding them and avoiding cheap ring outs was to use impacts and dodge. I know it sounds simple but I think when you did a just impact your soul gauge goes up and theirs goes down. Leading to the CF set up more likely. Also they cant ring you out if you know how to time a just impact and dodging causing all those button mashers to lose their edge.

Although I don't like street fighter after playing it on the 3DS I have to say it would be awesome if they made them easy to pull off but were tied to a meter and positioning and timing was a factor. It would make it so only the people who left themselves open would get hit as it works in SF4 yet as you mentioned it would also look great. It would even be nice if they did it like they did in MK with the bone breaking moves.

#7 Posted by Hailinel (25787 posts) -

Blood in Soul Calibur = No Thank You

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.