By: M. Antonio Silas
Since its introduction in 1996, the Soul series has enjoyed a successful run as one of Namco’s flagship fighting game series, alongside Tekken. A successor to Namco’s Soul Blade series, SoulCalibur is known for its impressive soundtrack, breath-taking visuals, and a weapons-based fighting system that focuses less on combos and more on precision. One of the series’ traits is definitely consistency; this can be a good or a bad thing depending on who you ask.
With the latest incarnation of the series, SoulCalibur V, Namco sticks with what made the series memorable: a wide variety of unique fighting styles, colorful characters, and flashy special moves. The games all have a production quality similar to that of a movie, and SCV is no different.
As with the other games of the series, SCV focuses on the Soul Blade, a soul-stealing sword that most of the characters in the game are after. The possession of this possessed blade sets the stage for all of the fights that take place during the game’s campaign. Since SCV takes place 17 years after the events of SCIV, several characters that are well-known in the series are nowhere to be found; they have been replaced by new characters with similar move sets. Many favorites are still present, however.
So how does SoulCalibur V measure up? Here is our evaluation of Gameplay, Controls, Graphics, Sound and Replay Value. Let us know if you agree or disagree with these scores!
Gameplay – Score: 6.5 out of 7
SCV does not disappoint when it comes to gameplay. The game is flexible enough to appease both newbies and hardened veterans alike. Each of the characters has their own unique back story that immerses you further into the game.
While Namco didn’t touch the fighting engine too much, there are a few new changes. For instance, the fighters now have super moves, similar to those found in the Street Fighter series. The thing that previously separated the SoulCalibur series was actually the lack of elements like this. While super moves may make some fans weary, they do not hinder the game. With enough skill, you can set up and combo into these moves, taking away a large amount of your opponent’s health if done properly.
In terms of game modes, SCV takes a different approach to the typical Arcade Mode found in most fighting games. The “Story” campaign found in this game has expanded substantially on the Story mode found in SCIV. It’s a refreshing alternative to the typical ladder progression you find in most fighting games.
SCV also includes other fighting modes, including Online Play, Arcade Battle, and Character Creation.
Controls – Score: 7 out of 7
The controls haven’t changed at all, and that definitely is not a bad thing. By alternating and combining the horizontal slash, vertical slash, kick, and block buttons, players have a wide variety of moves at their disposal. Since the game is in 3-D, players have an “8-way run” at their disposal, allowing characters to strategically position themselves for special moves or sidestep incoming attacks.
As always, the controls are tight and responsive. While many of the moves can be performed fairly easily, many of them require precise inputs. Luckily, the learning curve for the majority of the characters’ moves is not too steep.
Graphics – Score: 7 out of 7
The combat flows smoothly at 60 frames per second. Namco always ensures that the characters have the highest quality of detail. For example, when armor is broken, you can see shrapnel flying from the characters’ body. The start-up animations of super moves are accented with colorful graphics. You can see the characters wincing as they are struck with a blow and a bright animation when weapons clash with one another.
The various arenas you will fight in also tell their own stories, including a battered pirate ship that falls apart as you do battle, and villagers doing battle with a giant ogre. It was difficult to believe that Namco could surpass the graphics that were present in SCIV, but once again they outdid themselves.
Sound – Score: 6 out of 7
The sound for SCV is high quality, sporting Dolby Digital Audio. The game allows you to set your sound preferences according to the abilities of your sound system. Even on a flatscreen television with default speakers, the game sounds superb. The voice acting is spot-on for the most part, but sometimes the characters sound somewhat generic or uninspired in their dialogue.
If you would like a more genuine feel to the characters, you have the option of changing all of the dialogue from English to each of the character’s respective languages.
Replay Value – Score: 5.5 out of 7
This is one of the only areas that the game even remotely struggles in. Aside from the things you would expect to be in a fighting game, there isn’t much else. There’s no Team Battle Mode, no Tag Team Mode, no Endless Fight Mode. These modes aren’t required, but variety is always a plus.
The modes that the game does have are being done extremely well, however. The “Character Creation” mode is likely one of the most robust ever featured in a fighting game. By fighting in various modes, you earn additional garments and accessories that your custom character can sport. If you don’t have the creative genius to design your own fighter, you can select one of the game’s various fighters and change the color scheme however you see fit. There are endless possibilities within this mode, and unlocking everything for the characters will likely take you quite a while.
“Online Mode” is where the action is. Putting your skills to the test against another player online has never been more fun! You can set your preferences to find an opponent and then go to war. The lobbies are well-crafted, allowing you to watch other players battle while you wait for your turn. There are too many positives about the nearly-lagless online mode to list; it’d be in your best interest to experience it yourself.
The Bottom Line
Soul Calibur V is worth your money if you are a fighting game fan or if you just want to try something new. With a robust fighting system, gorgeous graphics, an ease of accessibility, and a modest amount of well-done game modes, SCV is a worthy entrant to a great series.
Total Score: 32 out of 35
UrbLife.com Rating: 91.4%
For updates on Soulcalibur V, go to SoulCalibur.com