|2012-02-12||Xbox 360||Fighting||T (Teen)||Namco Bandai|
I'm not one to spend time playing fighting games. I had a Street Fighter II phase at some point, and that was it. That is, until I played SoulCalibur on the Dreamcast and the fun, fast and furious fighting got me hooked on the franchise ever since. My husband bought me the Collector's Edition of Soul Calibur V and instantly I was squealing with delight like the fangirl I am.
It's been about 4 years since the last game, and this time we actually see how time went by once we jump into the story mode. Seventeen years have passed since the events in Soul Calibur IV, and we follow the adventure of Sophitia's son and daughter, Patroklos and Pyrrha. Their tales are marked by destiny and the eternal conflict between the Soul Edge and the Soul Calibur swords.
As you progress through the different chapters in story mode, you will see certain events from each characters' point of view, alternating playing as Patroklos and Pyrrha. And as you get accustomed to their fighting style, you come to terms with the fact that this isn't the good, old Soul Calibur you were so accustomed to anymore.
Combat is hectic. The characters are much faster now and able to side-step in the blink of an eye... or faster. They are unforgivable and seem to predict your every move. Sometimes it would seem impossible to dodge them, block their attacks, or even just simply get the hell off the ground.
As I grew frustrated with the story by using Patroklos and Pyrrha, which I really dislike for their short range combat, I discovered that I couldn't use anyone else to accomplish this task. I miss having each character going through a story of their own, even if short. Patroklos and Pyrrha's adventures spans through 18 chapters of narration, fantastic animated sequences, and insane fighting of increasing difficulty.
I alternated story progression with fun with the Arcade mode, where I discovered who else I could play as. Familiar faces make their appearance in the roster: Ivy, Mitsurugi, Cervantes, Tira, Yoshimitsu, Voldo (who still creeps me out), Siegfried, Maxi, Nightmare, are still their usual selves, some a bit more mature-looking. Others, such as Kilik and the Edge Master are able to fight with any style. But new characters replaced old favorites, which I can't say I agree with, but seeing as the time frame advanced, it makes sense. Several new faces come along: Z.W.E.I., who can turn any fight into a very unfair 2-on-1; Viola who uses a crystal ball as a weapon; sword and shield users Pyrrha and Patroklos; and Elysium, an angelic manifestation of Soul Calibur itself.
Taki is gone, but now there is Natsu whose looks and fighting style are similar (and no wonder, she was Taki's apprentice). Xianghua is also a no-show, now having her daughter Leixia as a "replacement". And I definitely miss Seung Mina, my favorite, but I can have my staff back by using newcomer Xiba.
Actually, thanks to character creation, I made my own Seung Mina, clothing, fighting style, headband and all, and this actually made my gaming experience more comfortable, since I grew accustomed to using her move set. Except the move sets aren't exactly the same as before.
I found out that many times, the only way to beat a fighter that is apparently on crack and keeps on knocking me down or keeping me floating in mid-air with a series of quick combos is... to cheat! They want to be cheesy and pull off the same move six, seven or eight times in a row? I can do that! They insist on knocking you back and pushing you out of the ring? I guess I'll have to do that too!
There is plenty to keep you busy for a long time in Soul Calibur V. You can fight other players from around the world and climb the leaderboard ranks. You can upload a video of your fights or download and replay others'. You can earn titles by defeating characters in Quick Play. There are some characters to unlock, either by completing Story Mode or fighting them in Legendary Mode. You will eventually find Assassin's Creed Ezio Auditore, Edge Master, Elysium, Kilik, Algol, Tekken's Devil Jin and others available in character selection.
Fangirl or not, I have to admit that I am disappointed by little changes that brought so much into the game before. Yes, character customization is as detailed as ever and you can unlock a series of items by winning fights, but you won't see any bonuses on the armor anymore. There is no art gallery to browse, there is no specific ending or mini-story for each character, some fighting styles are missing... and what's up with the announcer now? Where is that ever-famous "...but he soul still burns!" statement? I miss that.
Overall, Soul Calibur V is more than ever an incredibly challenging fighting experience that you customize to your heart's content. It's interesting to play and to watch, but it really is a shame that certain features that added so much to the game before were simply scrapped to take the franchise in this less memorable "new direction".