Soulcalibur V is around the corner. Namco Bandai sent along
partial builds of the game with certain features, such as the main story mode,
locked out. It was, however, enough for us to poke around with the new
characters and get a feel for what you can expect at the end of the month. Here
are some initial reactions:
Link still dominates
Each Soulcalibur game has the tradition of a guest character
from either other game franchises or geek lore. SC V delivers Assassin’s Creed’s
Ezio Auditore. Ezio has a few solid tricks up his sleeve, and is definitely a
more sound combatant than the likes of recent guests Yoda, Darth Vader, and Kratos
(seen in Broken Destiny, the criminally overlooked PSP game).
His short range blade attacks are a little reminiscent of
Raphael. His projectiles are dangerous, but probably won’t be as crucial to
your attack plan as Link’s arrows and bombs were. For those keeping count, it
appears that his aesthetic mimics Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, though the art
style gives him a more youthful face.
He’s a fun character to use, but he’s not stealing the crown
from our iconic friend in green.
Criticals are still satisfying
I’m not a competitive-level fighting game fan, but I’ve
played my share of Soulcalibur over the years, including some of Broken Destiny
two years back, which was a good handheld fighter, if you could find friends to
play with. I’ve enjoyed unleashing SC V’s
nasty finishers as much as what I saw in SC IV and in the PSP game. As you’ll
notice from our GR GamePlay demo, Ezio’s is a doozy.
Be virtuous. Be patient
For the average fighting game dabbler, SC V’s arcade mode
finale will virtually assure full-on rage. Depending on your character of
choice—or worse, if you play on random—higher level characters’ devastating
attacks will dispatch you within a matter of 20 seconds or less. Your mileage
may vary, but be ready for some frustrating fights and a boatload of patience
if you don’t play Soulcalibur frequently. I shudder for Algol encounters in the
"More of the same" isn't the right phrase, but...
SC V is clean and gorgeous. Project Soul has paid close and
careful attention to its trademark Euro-amalgam fantasy world. Admittedly, the
menus and UI seem unchanged over years of sequels, but they’re functional
enough. Still, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Soulcalibur V’s existence is
less driven by “we haven’t seen a Soulcalibur in years” and more by “people are
playing fighting games more often.” Compared to comebacks from the likes of
Marvel vs. Capcom and Mortal Kombat in the past twelve months, SC V feels a
little anticlimactic and rather iterative. If you’re sick of SC IV, it’ll be an
ample replacement, and as 3D fighters go, it’s a good one (so far). Will it
replace the current slate of Capcom titles, or make you forget that Sega’s
churning out its final VF 5 iteration? Probably not.
Stay tuned for reviews. From the time spent with this
near-complete build, it’s a good fighting game that’s fun to play with friends.
The jury’s still out on whether it’s got enough going with its online content
to warrant a spot on your shelf, but until we’ve got a final verdict, stay