Video Game Review: SoulCalibur V

Developer: Project Soul

Publisher: Namco Bandai Games

Release Date: January 31st, 2012

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3,

Genre: Fighting

Rating: T for Teen

By Nolan Patrick Smith

(Victor Valley)–The fighting game resurgence continues with a trip into a stage in history: welcome to SoulCalibur V. The fifth installment in the series, SoulCalibur in known for its weapons based combat and interactive stages, not to mention its diverse group of fighters. The series has seen guest appearances from across the pop culture landscape, from Nintendo’s Link and Image Comic’s Spawn, to Jedi Master Yoda and the ultimate antagonist, Darth Vader himself. This time is no different, as the game adds more to the series, brings in another character outside of the SoulCalibur realm, and looks brilliant doing so.

Story: The story for SoulCalibur has always focused around the two swords, the evil Soul Edge and the sword made to defeat it, the SoulCalibur. The story here is not much different from that. The game picks up 17 years after the last installment, bringing a new and updated cast of characters. Returning are favorites like Ivy, Cervantes, and of course, the dark knight Nightmare. New to the mix as well as the main focus of the game comes courtesy of Patroklos and his sister Pyrrha, children of SoulCalibur mainstay Sophitia. The guest fighter this time comes from the Assassin’s Creed series; master assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze graces the game with his presence.

The game modes have changed, and for some it’s not for the better. Like most fighting games, a ladder-like story mode usually consists of picking a fighter of your choice, battling through a handful of combatants with the conclusion coming in the form of a showdown with a massive final boss that brings forth a character specific ending. That just doesn’t happen here. In the offline Arcade mode, you can fight through a ladder of opponents, but there is no final boss, no ending to marvel at.  The story mode lets you play are Patroklos for the most part, which is frustrating.

Design/Art: The character and stage design is top notch as usual in a SoulCalibur game. The detail put into each of the character models really shines through, as does the thought that goes in to the varying weapons. From massive swords, ring blades, hammers, hidden blades and more, there are plenty of ways to beat your opponents. The cut scenes, which are new for the fifth installment, look breathtaking, but are few and far between. Instead, the story mode progresses with static ink drawings with voiceovers.

Gameplay: The gameplay mechanics are more complicated than your average fighter, but after you get used to it, it really isn’t too bad. Gone are the Critical Finishes and Soul Gauge, which are now replaced with a meter that allows you to perform Brave Edge and Critical Edge attacks. Critical Edge attacks offer a small cut scene followed by a powerful combo move.  The mechanics of the gameplay actually feels like a step up from the previous installment.

Sound: One thing that video games are real hit or miss on are the voice over talents. The voice work before and after fights are actually very well done, it’s the story mode voiceover that suffers. After going through the Story mode, I was sick of hearing the cheesy lines read by bland, forgettable actors. The background music is nice and mood setting, very much inline with the rest of the series.

Overall: Like most fighting game fans, I am enjoying the fighting game explosion currently going on. I was thrilled to get my hands on this title, but after playing the Story mode and seeing that there was no reward for going through the game with different characters, I was a little let down. That doesn’t take away from the game play, which has excelled this time around.  An exciting game, I give SoulCalibur V an 8 out of 10.

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