So I Played SoulCalibur V…

Posted by Colorwind (230 posts) -

After hotly anticipating the fifth game in the series and not getting nor playing it when it was released earlier this year, I finally got my hands on SoulCalibur V for the Xbox 360. I rented it from my newly restarted Gamefly account. I’m a big fan of the series and I love following the story and lore as well as the fun and accessible gameplay. True, I have problems with the second and third iterations, namely the second game was a stripped down version of the first and I couldn’t play the third game because of the game erasing bug which wiped my progress FIVE TIMES, but I played Soul Blade for a crazy amount of hours and often praise the original SoulCalibur as the best fighting game of the series and one of the best games of the whole decade. I also really like SoulCalibur IV, mainly for its leveling, various weapons, and customization. I went into playing this game with a cautious mind set. Although I originally thought this could be a great game, the reviews I read about the game made me aware that I would not be getting a game on par with the first SoulCalibur. Still I was optimistic. I mean, I have not played a game in the series I didn’t like. To be fair, I haven’t played the Wii game but Blade, I, II, III, and IV, love ‘em.

I pop the game in and I’m a bit disappointed by the opening cut scene which basically lets me know what happened at the end of SoulCalibur IV. No musical vignette of the characters like in the previous games. However, I did notice that the graphics were quite stunning. That carried over in the gameplay too. Character mouths move in a more believable way and eyes don’t look quite as dead looking. However honestly, I’m not a big fan of the style of the character models, which are chunky looking and tend to have various clothing pieces hover over others instead of lay against it. Furthermore, they are still the same models used in the previous game but with more detail and refinement. Still, backgrounds are beautifully rendered and I like the new announcer used in this game. Also as always, the soundtrack is amazing and fits the bombast of the game and tone. In terms of presentation for most of the game, everything is fine and done well. SoulCalibur V unfortunately gave me a bad first impression.

The first character I picked was Cervantes, my series favorite since Soul Blade. The match loaded up and I didn’t like that the character models in the loading screens from the previous games had been replaced by cards with their picture. Minor complaint, whatever. The match starts and I’m playing, trying to use the new mechanics that I already know are in the game. I get my ass kicked. I try another match (I’m playing Quick Battle mode FYI) and again, I’m completely destroyed. I notice that he feels different. So I go into the Training mode and take a look at Cervantes’ move list and try some things out. Not only is he slower than he used to be but his move list is smaller than it used to be. So already I’m annoyed that I’m going to have to essentially relearn how to control one of my favorite characters. I go back into Quick Battle mode and decide to try another character I like, Raphael. I win several matches this time but Raphael feels strange too. I go into training mode with Raphael and realize he’s missing moves too. I’m noticing a pattern.

I then try out Arcade mode and I’m surprised when there’s no ending movie when I finish. I’m also surprised that its only six matches and is more of a Time Attack mode than an Arcade mode. I also noticed previously that Quick Battle mode is basically the online mode offline and that under the offline modes there are only five modes. Whatever happened to Survival and Team Battle modes? I decide to stop for the night after completing Arcade mode.

The next day, I load up the game again and go into Story mode. Remember when I said the presentation was done well for most of the game? This is where it isn’t. Except for a few instances, the entire story is told through voiceovers done over storyboard art that wasn’t even bothered to be colored in. Furthermore, the story only tells the story of newcomers Patroklos and Pyrra, children of series mainstay Sophitia. You also get to play as Z.W.E.I. a couple of times who is awesome, even if I’m no good with him. However, the story barely covers the whole cast with only Tira, Nightmare, Siegfried, Maxi, Ivy and series newcomers Xiba, Viola, and two others being mentioned. I can’t even remember the last two. They’re basically new versions of Taki and Xianghua from the previous games. Worse, these characters just pop in real quick and end up being rather inconsequential. After two hours and 20 chapters / battles, I complete the story mode unsatisfied, seeing as it’s basically like watching a bad anime.

At this point, it dawns on me that I have no freaking clue why anyone’s here. Like I said, I’m really invested in the plot and mythology of the series and I realize that there’s nothing in this game actually advancing the plot. The story mode kind of does but there’s plot holes out the freaking yang and it only tells the story of a few of the characters. *SPOILERS* (sort of) How did Sophitia die? When did this happen? What happened to Taki and Xianghua? Why is Kilik dressed the way he is in this game? More importantly, how are most of the characters in the game involved? Especially with the opening cut scene showing Nightmare being defeated, why is he back? Sure the past games gave some sort of convoluted / bullshit reason as to why Soul Edge was around but at least they gave some reason. Here, nothing. It’s another SoulCalibur game so of course the evil sword’s still around. I guess I can go online and fine an answer but that should be in the game. Also, how would I know the info on the web isn’t just fabricated bullshit since there’s practically nothing in the game itself to go by?

The characters is the next problem. With no story actually in the game really (ironic for a game with a Story mode) who the hell are these new characters? Two of them are actually really interesting, Z.W.E.I. and Viola. The rest however are lame copies. No context is given in the game proper and the game lacks any kind of investment because of it. Especially Ezio from Assassin’s Creed II who is the game’s token guest character. I wish they’d stop including guest characters, although I know I’m in the minority in my opinion. Well, after the story mode, I try the newly unlocked Legendary Souls mode and its basically Arcade mode that’s super difficult. I can’t even beat the first guy so I just give up. I try to make a custom character but I end up just making a modified Raphael and the customization is done well, improving on everything SCIV had. However, I noticed that the levels, the different swords with stats, and the attributes are all gone. Therefore, my custom character is different in purely a cosmetic way, nothing more.

At this point, I pretty much said screw this game and packaged it back up to send back to Gamefly, disappointed like you wouldn’t believe and not giving two shits about online play. However, there’s one major factor I’ve not talked about yet about the game: the combat. How is the combat in this game? It’s fine. It’s slower than it used to be but honestly, the combat is still decent. However, the new additions to the game mechanics are all failures with the final change that I’m going to talk about all but breaking the game. Everything new in this game is based around the new Critical Gauge. This gauge is basically the super combo bar seen in games like Street Fighter, BlazBlue, and King of Fighters. You can do a Critical Edge attack when you fill the gauge up once, which is basically a super move, like from the aforementioned games. While it works well in those games due to those game’s focus on timing and combos, in a game like SoulCalibur that is more about positioning and button mashing, it just feels so foreign and out of place. You can also do EX style Brave Edge moves which are just more powerful versions of some normal attacks and requires a third of the Critical Gauge. Again, this type of mechanic belongs better in Street Fighter. Although this does work better than the Critical Edge moves, most of them are fairly lame and basically unnecessary. These two mechanics are actually relatively harmless and I did find myself using them even though I didn’t like it very much. The real problem is with the guard impact mechanic.

The guard impact ability is nothing new. It’s been in the SoulCalibur series for almost its entire existence. However in this game, it uses part of the Critical Gauge. This means you are limited in how you can do this and you also don’t need to worry about whether the attack is high, mid or low range. Furthermore, parries are gone in this game. What this means is the guard impact is all but useless in this game since the gauge is better spent on a Critical or Brave Edge attack. With no other option other than your basic guard and the not worth the effort Just Guard mechanic for defense, you have a game that’s in favor of offensive approaches. Defense is basically an afterthought and this game’s motto is the best defense is a good offense. Therefore, characters that are required to be played defensively such as Astaroth are royally screwed. This means that SoulCalibur V is basically the most one sided and completely unbalanced title in the series and one of the most lopsided fighting games in general I’ve played in recent memory. The only means of balance is to strip offensive designed characters like Raphael of their move lists to make them less so.

SoulCalibur V is the first game in the series I don’t like. SoulCalibur V is the first game in the series I hate. All over this title is evidence of a developer that basically did not give a shit and cobbled together half-developed ideas so they could release a SoulCalibur title during the recent fighting game renaissance. The mode selection is anemic, the characters have no purpose, the character building aspects are nonexistent and the gameplay is lopsided. Sad when the best aspect of a game is the fun had designing your characters outfit. This is the biggest disappointment of the year for me but I will say that I can recommend this game for some people. For as much as I don’t like this game, critically I can say that this isn’t a terrible game. What I did see of the online play there are a lot of options and titles similar to Virtua Fighter and Street Fighter and those who are a fan of online play will probably like this game more than I did. If you are someone who likes playing online, I can give this game a cautious 3 out of 5. For those who don’t, this game’s a 2.5 out of 5 and you should rent it before buying it. Either way, don’t pay too much for this. It just isn’t worth it. Right now, Gamefly is selling a used copy of the game for $14.99 for Xbox 360 and $17.99 for PS3. That’s worth it if you want it. Personally for me, this is a sad 2 out of 5, as I couldn’t get passed the shortcomings and overall superficial product. In the meantime, I’m just going to pop in SoulCalibur IV and enjoy that again. I never did level up every character.

#1 Posted by Colorwind (230 posts) -

After hotly anticipating the fifth game in the series and not getting nor playing it when it was released earlier this year, I finally got my hands on SoulCalibur V for the Xbox 360. I rented it from my newly restarted Gamefly account. I’m a big fan of the series and I love following the story and lore as well as the fun and accessible gameplay. True, I have problems with the second and third iterations, namely the second game was a stripped down version of the first and I couldn’t play the third game because of the game erasing bug which wiped my progress FIVE TIMES, but I played Soul Blade for a crazy amount of hours and often praise the original SoulCalibur as the best fighting game of the series and one of the best games of the whole decade. I also really like SoulCalibur IV, mainly for its leveling, various weapons, and customization. I went into playing this game with a cautious mind set. Although I originally thought this could be a great game, the reviews I read about the game made me aware that I would not be getting a game on par with the first SoulCalibur. Still I was optimistic. I mean, I have not played a game in the series I didn’t like. To be fair, I haven’t played the Wii game but Blade, I, II, III, and IV, love ‘em.

I pop the game in and I’m a bit disappointed by the opening cut scene which basically lets me know what happened at the end of SoulCalibur IV. No musical vignette of the characters like in the previous games. However, I did notice that the graphics were quite stunning. That carried over in the gameplay too. Character mouths move in a more believable way and eyes don’t look quite as dead looking. However honestly, I’m not a big fan of the style of the character models, which are chunky looking and tend to have various clothing pieces hover over others instead of lay against it. Furthermore, they are still the same models used in the previous game but with more detail and refinement. Still, backgrounds are beautifully rendered and I like the new announcer used in this game. Also as always, the soundtrack is amazing and fits the bombast of the game and tone. In terms of presentation for most of the game, everything is fine and done well. SoulCalibur V unfortunately gave me a bad first impression.

The first character I picked was Cervantes, my series favorite since Soul Blade. The match loaded up and I didn’t like that the character models in the loading screens from the previous games had been replaced by cards with their picture. Minor complaint, whatever. The match starts and I’m playing, trying to use the new mechanics that I already know are in the game. I get my ass kicked. I try another match (I’m playing Quick Battle mode FYI) and again, I’m completely destroyed. I notice that he feels different. So I go into the Training mode and take a look at Cervantes’ move list and try some things out. Not only is he slower than he used to be but his move list is smaller than it used to be. So already I’m annoyed that I’m going to have to essentially relearn how to control one of my favorite characters. I go back into Quick Battle mode and decide to try another character I like, Raphael. I win several matches this time but Raphael feels strange too. I go into training mode with Raphael and realize he’s missing moves too. I’m noticing a pattern.

I then try out Arcade mode and I’m surprised when there’s no ending movie when I finish. I’m also surprised that its only six matches and is more of a Time Attack mode than an Arcade mode. I also noticed previously that Quick Battle mode is basically the online mode offline and that under the offline modes there are only five modes. Whatever happened to Survival and Team Battle modes? I decide to stop for the night after completing Arcade mode.

The next day, I load up the game again and go into Story mode. Remember when I said the presentation was done well for most of the game? This is where it isn’t. Except for a few instances, the entire story is told through voiceovers done over storyboard art that wasn’t even bothered to be colored in. Furthermore, the story only tells the story of newcomers Patroklos and Pyrra, children of series mainstay Sophitia. You also get to play as Z.W.E.I. a couple of times who is awesome, even if I’m no good with him. However, the story barely covers the whole cast with only Tira, Nightmare, Siegfried, Maxi, Ivy and series newcomers Xiba, Viola, and two others being mentioned. I can’t even remember the last two. They’re basically new versions of Taki and Xianghua from the previous games. Worse, these characters just pop in real quick and end up being rather inconsequential. After two hours and 20 chapters / battles, I complete the story mode unsatisfied, seeing as it’s basically like watching a bad anime.

At this point, it dawns on me that I have no freaking clue why anyone’s here. Like I said, I’m really invested in the plot and mythology of the series and I realize that there’s nothing in this game actually advancing the plot. The story mode kind of does but there’s plot holes out the freaking yang and it only tells the story of a few of the characters. *SPOILERS* (sort of) How did Sophitia die? When did this happen? What happened to Taki and Xianghua? Why is Kilik dressed the way he is in this game? More importantly, how are most of the characters in the game involved? Especially with the opening cut scene showing Nightmare being defeated, why is he back? Sure the past games gave some sort of convoluted / bullshit reason as to why Soul Edge was around but at least they gave some reason. Here, nothing. It’s another SoulCalibur game so of course the evil sword’s still around. I guess I can go online and fine an answer but that should be in the game. Also, how would I know the info on the web isn’t just fabricated bullshit since there’s practically nothing in the game itself to go by?

The characters is the next problem. With no story actually in the game really (ironic for a game with a Story mode) who the hell are these new characters? Two of them are actually really interesting, Z.W.E.I. and Viola. The rest however are lame copies. No context is given in the game proper and the game lacks any kind of investment because of it. Especially Ezio from Assassin’s Creed II who is the game’s token guest character. I wish they’d stop including guest characters, although I know I’m in the minority in my opinion. Well, after the story mode, I try the newly unlocked Legendary Souls mode and its basically Arcade mode that’s super difficult. I can’t even beat the first guy so I just give up. I try to make a custom character but I end up just making a modified Raphael and the customization is done well, improving on everything SCIV had. However, I noticed that the levels, the different swords with stats, and the attributes are all gone. Therefore, my custom character is different in purely a cosmetic way, nothing more.

At this point, I pretty much said screw this game and packaged it back up to send back to Gamefly, disappointed like you wouldn’t believe and not giving two shits about online play. However, there’s one major factor I’ve not talked about yet about the game: the combat. How is the combat in this game? It’s fine. It’s slower than it used to be but honestly, the combat is still decent. However, the new additions to the game mechanics are all failures with the final change that I’m going to talk about all but breaking the game. Everything new in this game is based around the new Critical Gauge. This gauge is basically the super combo bar seen in games like Street Fighter, BlazBlue, and King of Fighters. You can do a Critical Edge attack when you fill the gauge up once, which is basically a super move, like from the aforementioned games. While it works well in those games due to those game’s focus on timing and combos, in a game like SoulCalibur that is more about positioning and button mashing, it just feels so foreign and out of place. You can also do EX style Brave Edge moves which are just more powerful versions of some normal attacks and requires a third of the Critical Gauge. Again, this type of mechanic belongs better in Street Fighter. Although this does work better than the Critical Edge moves, most of them are fairly lame and basically unnecessary. These two mechanics are actually relatively harmless and I did find myself using them even though I didn’t like it very much. The real problem is with the guard impact mechanic.

The guard impact ability is nothing new. It’s been in the SoulCalibur series for almost its entire existence. However in this game, it uses part of the Critical Gauge. This means you are limited in how you can do this and you also don’t need to worry about whether the attack is high, mid or low range. Furthermore, parries are gone in this game. What this means is the guard impact is all but useless in this game since the gauge is better spent on a Critical or Brave Edge attack. With no other option other than your basic guard and the not worth the effort Just Guard mechanic for defense, you have a game that’s in favor of offensive approaches. Defense is basically an afterthought and this game’s motto is the best defense is a good offense. Therefore, characters that are required to be played defensively such as Astaroth are royally screwed. This means that SoulCalibur V is basically the most one sided and completely unbalanced title in the series and one of the most lopsided fighting games in general I’ve played in recent memory. The only means of balance is to strip offensive designed characters like Raphael of their move lists to make them less so.

SoulCalibur V is the first game in the series I don’t like. SoulCalibur V is the first game in the series I hate. All over this title is evidence of a developer that basically did not give a shit and cobbled together half-developed ideas so they could release a SoulCalibur title during the recent fighting game renaissance. The mode selection is anemic, the characters have no purpose, the character building aspects are nonexistent and the gameplay is lopsided. Sad when the best aspect of a game is the fun had designing your characters outfit. This is the biggest disappointment of the year for me but I will say that I can recommend this game for some people. For as much as I don’t like this game, critically I can say that this isn’t a terrible game. What I did see of the online play there are a lot of options and titles similar to Virtua Fighter and Street Fighter and those who are a fan of online play will probably like this game more than I did. If you are someone who likes playing online, I can give this game a cautious 3 out of 5. For those who don’t, this game’s a 2.5 out of 5 and you should rent it before buying it. Either way, don’t pay too much for this. It just isn’t worth it. Right now, Gamefly is selling a used copy of the game for $14.99 for Xbox 360 and $17.99 for PS3. That’s worth it if you want it. Personally for me, this is a sad 2 out of 5, as I couldn’t get passed the shortcomings and overall superficial product. In the meantime, I’m just going to pop in SoulCalibur IV and enjoy that again. I never did level up every character.

#2 Posted by bearshamanbro (283 posts) -

Interesting read. I agree with many of your points. The single player content got super rushed and it's an unfinished product. Wouldn't be surprised if the lack of certain characters was from a similar issue.  I would disagree on the combat engine though. The combat aspect is really good and has the best gameplay since the early Soul Calibur games. For evidence, I would offer up the support SCV has received in the tournament scene and the respect it's gotten. The meter added a lot of cool strategy to the game as well. Big improvement over 3 and 4 in this respect.  On the Guard Impact, I sort of agree. The reason the Guard Impact costs meter is because of the introduction of the supers. It would be way overpowered to have free Guard Impacts because they lead into free supers (they are really valuable in this game). The game would turn into just fishing for Guard Impacts>Supers. The Just Guard  never really took hold though as an alernative because the timing window might be too small. It was more of a high level technique and you didn't really see them that much, even in tournaments. The risk/reward just wasn't there unless your anticipation and timing were really good. In all, I think SCV is still a pretty defensive game as you still have a lot of defensive tools.
 
Now that all the big players have their 3D fighting games out (DOA, Tekken, VF) and putting many hours into all of them,I really think there is room for this game. It has a system that is easy to pick up while being hard to master. It's still the best looking 3D fighting game, the online is solid, and the action looks really cool. They really just dropped the ball on pretty much everything except for netcode, graphics, and combat engine. I hope Namco supports this franchise going forward and I think it could be really successful for them if they give it the time and resources to succeed. This one just needed another 6 months in the oven but it's still a solid 4.5 out of 5 to me. Mostly because I just play Ghost Battle and Online, but I could easily see how SCIV is the better game to many people as it has a lot more single player content.

#3 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5153 posts) -

Soul Calibur IV had a lot less single player content than Soul Calibur III (which had a 20 hour pseudo RTS mode of all things, alongside several more challenge modes and just a shitload of stuff) before it so it was easy enough to see the downward trend, it's not like they change how characters work or make dramatic system alterations in these games regardless. Also Star Killer is ridiculous, not having him would be sad.

#4 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4672 posts) -

Neat writeup but I don't agree with you at all. How many characters do have good story justification in a fighiting game? The reason characters like Taki were replaced with a similar character I'd guess is because they wanted to change up those characters styles but feared people would get upset if Taki or Sophetia played differently. The two new characters added are really interesting in terms of play style. My only complaint is that some styles are not represented. I would like a Tali style and giving Setsuka's style to a different version of Patrokolos is lazy.

I never cared for SC4 and much prefer the gameplay of SC5. I think the addition of meter fits in well and give the combat more strategy. Now you have meter management, super positioning, etc. You can't parry as easily so defense is not as easy and you need to be confident that they are going to hit because they spend meter regardless if they connect or not. Plus you don't need to worry about hit levels so it's a good trade off which rewards good reads. Plus now moves with GI properties are more useful. The side dash is a great new defense tool for the neutral game as well. Because of meter and EX moves they game has bigger combos which I personally like as a good hit can be rewarded.

You may not care about online but it's excellent, with some of the best netcode around. I never liked that changing your attire affected stats as it encouraged making your characters look stupid for the sake of strong stats. Now I only need worry about the cosmetic. Speaking of cosmetic the game look great.

I will agree that the game seems rushed, I think the director said as much, or at least implyed it. This is evident in the lackluster singleplayer. Then again it's not like SC4 had good singleplayer content either. They clearly focused on where it counts most for a fighting game: gameplay.

#5 Posted by Hunter5024 (5503 posts) -

Yeah this was my most disappointing game all year. Between having a main character that turned evil, many characters who were just clones of one another, and having all the guest characters, I always felt like Soul Calibur's cast was a little on the weak side, and the concept of this game moving forward in time Tekken 3 style seemed like a great opportunity to hit the refresh button and make us care about a brand new cast. Instead they took only a half step, leaving half the characters, getting rid of half the characters, and replacing a fourth of them with clones. That left a significantly reduced roster, with a ton of fan favorites missing, and because of the atrocious single player component in this game they left us with almost nothing to latch onto in order to care about these new characters. Worst of all is that this entry leaves them in an incredibly awkward place with a terrible main character, and half the cast aged into irrelevancy, or dead, where could they possibly go with Soul Calibur 6?

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