Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny – hands-on

Broken Destiny also introduces the finely mustachioed Dampierre to the fray, a hero-turned-villain/jokester with a variety of moves that will elicit a giggle the first time you see them and most likely drive you crazy once he’s done them to you a billion times. You can opt to create a character using the same customization options weloved in SC IV, or you can unlock a variety of new costumes and accessories by playing through the various game modes.

Broken Destiny includes an Arcade-style mode, an Endurance mode, a Quick Play mode, and a non-canon Story mode that tasks you with completing specific challenges within a regular match, a la Soulcalibur II. In essence, everything you can do in Broken Destiny boils down to the same ol’ one-on-one fighting system the series has always used. And we’re fine with that, really.

And yet, the biggest potential problem with Broken Destiny isn’t what is already present. It’s what’s missing: online multiplayer. Yes, Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny is technically multiplayer via ad hoc, if you can find someone nearby who has the game too, but without online play, chances are very good that you’ll mostly play this PSP installment against the computer by yourself. And considering that the play modes listed above don’t radically change how the game is played, we’re a little concerned about the game’s staying power.

Now, Namco appears to have gone through a lot of trouble crafting unique patterns of artificial intelligence for its fighters so that they resemble human players: they’ve even created imaginary profiles (complete with win/loss records and “personality traits”) that you can fight against in Quick Play mode. In playing against them, we were impressed to see that the behavior descriptors accurately depicted each opponent’s skill, technical ability, and proclivity towards throws, ring out attempts, parries, etc.

Impressive or not, our fondest memories of Soulcalibur involve staying up with a buddy all night playing Kilik vs. Kilik and seeing who could ring out the other first - memories we'll likely never duplicate in this single player-focused experience. We're willing to temper our expectations a little bit, but this could be a warning flag that, with no online multiplayer, there might not be a reason to stick around after the initial 'wow' factor of the graphics wears off.

Jul 27, 2009