First Impressions: SoulCalibur V

SoulCalibur V Xbox 360 coverI was expecting to spazz all over the place in this SoulCalibur V review and rave about how awesome everything was, but now I find myself thinking:

That was it? Seriously?

I’ve been stoked about this game for the longest time now, and now I find myself terribly disappointed. Soul Calibur has always been my favorite fighting game thanks to its storyline and character backgrounds, as well as the awesome line up of fighting styles and the opportunity to customize your own character. Soul Calibur IV was my favorite in the series because aside from getting to enjoy the Soul series’ usual strengths like great visuals and exciting gameplay mechanics  (the 8-way run, critical finish, guard impact, and so on), I actually liked playing through each character’s story mode individually, unlocking the cutscenes/artwork in my gallery, ascending/descending the Tower of Souls cursing all the way and getting to see my custom characters inserted into the opening sequence.

Yes, as a mostly-solo gamer with no one to play with and with no balls to play against random people online, those single character features were the things that made me absolutely adore the Soul series.

I played through SoulCalibur V‘s entire Story mode in one sitting, thinking there would be more to it afterward – but I was horribly wrong. You only get to play a couple of characters and just one main plot line instead of getting to choose who to play as and watch their individual stories play out like in the previous games. I know it’s kind of stupid of me to expect a fighting game to be heavy on its story aspects, but that’s always been one of the things about the Soul series that appealed to me the most, and I was sorely disappointed that they decided to tone it down.

SoulCalibur V Story Mode: Patroklos
Screenshot courtesy of DualShockers

Majority of the cutscenes in Story mode used sketchy artwork (by Takuji Kawano, I presume) to illustrate the events, and although I am a big fan of Kawano’s artwork in the Soul series, that proved to be a bit of a letdown for me. I felt like I was watching the behind-the-scenes content of a DVD where the directors present storyboards that did not make it into the game…only these things did make it into the game.

I also found the lack of humor to be somewhat disappointing. Everyone seems to be so serious all the time – even the minor attempt at inserting comic relief in the form of Xiba, Leixian, and Maxi wasn’t enough to breathe some laughter into the whole thing. And sure, Dampierre is one crazy-funny piece of work, but I don’t think even his clumsy antics will be enough to salvage this game’s humor. Yes, yes, the fact that Soul Edge and Nightmare are back and wreaking havoc on the world is serious business, but that never stopped Cassandra from being a funny little sister, or Yun-Seong from getting pwned by Seong Mi-na in a comical fashion in the previous games.

Soul Calibur V: Ezio vs Maxi
Screenshot courtesy of IGN.com

I’m not 100% disappointed with the game; after all, I get to see two of my favorite characters come back (Siegfried and Hilde), it’s got one heck of an interesting guest character (buon giorno, Ezio), and the new characters are actually fun to use. The customization options in Creation mode are great, too – I’ve actually made five Custom characters in a row just because I was having too much fun tweaking everything. Taking all of that aside, though, I’m rather disappointed with the game and sort of regret splurging on it on a whim.


TL;DR version of this review: If you have lots of people to play fighting games with and like going online to test your skills against other online players and don’t really give a damn about single player and story modes, then SoulCalibur V is a good game for you. If you liked the Soul series because of all the neat things you could do in offline/single player/story mode, then it probably isn’t worth buying.

2 thoughts

  1. Totally agree. I feel SC 5 was an instance of one-step-forward, two-steps-back. Story mode was a complete disappointment. I fear fighting games are turning into FPS’s, where story is practically non-existent and the only thing that matters is online.
    Hopefully they get it right next time.

    1. I like the way you put it. Namco Bandai really did take one step forward and two steps back on this one. Sadly, I’m a bit too disappointed with this game that I don’t even want to get my hopes up on them getting it right next time…assuming there will be a next time. There hasn’t been any word regarding a sequel just yet, so I’m not sure if we’re going to see a sixth installment.

      Then again, they announced that IV was the last game in the franchise, but they opted to create V in the end. Only time will tell, I guess.

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