Soul Calibur V


The Souls and Swords Returns

Namco Bandai’s highly acclaimed weapon-based fighting game returns with Soul Calibur V. While it is the fifth game to carry the title Soul Calibur, it is actually the sixth in the series – Soul Edge or Soul Blade (the name of the localized version in western regions), was the first. Soul Edge has been the epitome of weapon-based fighting games since its rebirth with the title Soul Calibur. Taking place seventeen years after the fourth installment, the evil sword Soul Edge is rising again and a new chapter begins. New souls enter the fray, while returning favorites make their return to the stage of history. Fans of the series can finally relive the struggles between good and evil in Soul Calibur V.

Reflections on the Blade

The blade has never looked this good. Team Project Soul has totally redone Soul Calibur IV’s graphics engine to produce one of the most best looking visuals to grace the fighting game scene. While Soul Calibur IV was no slouch in the visuals department, the fifth game went up a step further. With better textures, lighting and framerate – the game plays much faster. Some might say that some armor and costume graphics in Soul Calibur IV were better, but for us it might just been due to better designs. This is actually where we had some minor gripes. Some of the character’s costume designs – especially returning characters, seem to lack some creativity due to fact that some them are taken directly from past games in the series. Still the characters look great and stages are a sight to behold in this fifth installment of the Soul Calibur series.

Character and weapon animations in Soul Calibur V are simply gorgeous to look at. Soul Calibur games have been using motion captured technology since the first Soul Calibur and that has not changed for its new installment. While there is more computer generated animations now compared to past games – mainly due to some characters not using real weapons compared to game’s predecessors, animations in the game are still top notch and does not look overly unrealistic. From the twirling of Ivy’s sword whip to the powerful swings of Astaroth’s battle axe, every weapon’s movement is unique to its class.

Something new to the series has been added in regards to the stages used in the game. Normally stages in past Soul Calibur games had either arena with walls or pits surrounding it, or in some occasions both. Soul Calibur V’s stages are now multi-leveled, meaning falling off from a certain arena results to going to another stage entirely. While this does not add much to the outcome of the match, since getting ringed out from an arena is already a round lost. It still adds some depth to the game, since the area the player’s fall into might have a different design that can alter the match’s outcome.

Hymns from the Soul

Soul Calibur games have always been known to have great soundtracks and this continued to the newest installment of the game. Since the first game’s debut on the Dreamcast and started using orchestrated music, Soul Calibur has been one of the fighting game genre’s main assets when it comes to videogame music. With each character having their own theme music to capture not just each character’s personality and the stages they appear on, the composers handling the Soul Calibur series are true master of their art.

In fighting games, sound effects are very crucial in not just providing a great audio presentation but also immersing the players in the game’s world. Soul Calibur V is not just a regular fighting game that just uses punches and kicks for each character’s attacks, all of them wield weapons. Each character has a unique weapon and these weapons produce different sounds. Namco’s development team has been doing weapon sound effects for the series for more than a decade now so it is no surprise that they have the sound effects pretty much covered in terms of quality and quantity. But of course, the sounds for the weapon are not the only effects players will hear during each match of the game. Multitude of voiced lines from the game’s characters was provided, to make sure the game feels real and authentic. From screams of pain to chants of victory, the characters in Soul Calibur V certainly make their voices heard. Another traditional option that has been with the series since the original is the ability to change the voices of characters from either English to Japanese. This has always been a cool feature in Soul Calibur games since its pretty nice to match a character’s nationality with their native language – given that all western based character speak English and all the Asian characters speak Japanese.

The Battle of Two Swords Rages On

Being the fifth game in the Soul Calibur series, people might begin to ask on what to expect in Soul Calibur V. Well, to make the answer short and simple, a lot. Soul Calibur V took the tried and tested gameplay of the first four games and made some major changes and refinements that made the game feel totally new. While some of the new features added are not necessarily new to the fighting game scene. Adding them to an existing series like Soul Calibur that was not designed to with these features in mind resulted into something unique for fans of the series.

Super attacks and special meter bars have never had a place in past Soul Calibur games, but has been a staple for games like Street Fighter and The King of Fighters. This is actually due the mechanics involved in Soul Calibur games, since it is a weapon based fighting game involving real weapons – well until the fifth game that is. Since Soul Calibur V lineup involves characters that summons a werewolf apparition and floating orbs, I guess it was matter to time that Super attacks were included as well. Dubbed Critical Edge, are flashy and powerful moves that can be executed once the special meter bar at the end of characters life meter has filled and has a number confirming a full stock has been filled. Each character has a different type Critical Edge; some are in the form of projectiles while others are based of physical throws. While they are all different in terms of animation and execution, one thing is the same – the fact that they do a lot of damage and can easily turn the outcome of the match.

While Soul Calibur V still plays a lot like the past games in series. There are some changes that fans would surely take notice of. The main one would be the changes done to the one of the game’s signature gameplay feature, the Guard Impact. The Guard Impact has been part of the Soul Calibur and series and is one of the things that differentiate the series from other fighting games. While the main concept of the feature is still present the execution and application of it has been changed dramatically. In past games, Guard Impact can easily be done by pressing the Guard button plus either forward or back directional button. This can be done anytime and is the key to many strategies involved in the game. In Soul Calibur V however, you can only execute a Guard Impact if you have at least a third of the special meter bar filled. While this limitation did not break the game’s balance and classic gameplay, it did however made players whose game strategies revolves heavily on the Guard Impact – like ourselves, rethink their game. Still the change is not a game breaker and part of being player of fighting game is learning to adapt to new situations anyway so the change in the feature was fine with us in the end.

Character creation was first introduced in Soul Calibur 3 and while the feature was stripped down to some extent, Soul Calibur V’s character creation is still one of its key features that fans love. Being able to designs your own character to use in the game is fun and addictive and will take just as long as playing the game itself since there are tons of things to customize. Whether you want to make a burly man with an afro or a little girl in a school dress, Soul Calibur V’s character creation has the means to make it possible. With the ability to not only change the characters gender, height, hairstyle etc. players will be able to create something unique since the variation is endless and is only limited by the player’s own imagination. Additional creation parts are also added via DLC or downloadable content that can be bought online. The character creation feature has an enormous following from people wanting to create their own original characters to fight others via online or at home. The only downside with Soul Calibur’s V version of the character creation is that the characters can only use command sets from existing characters in the game, so the element of surprise on what abilities your created character is sadly not there. Making your own move set might be great but we are guessing the reason this feature can not be added properly Soul Calibur or in other fighting games for that matter is due to issues in game balance.

The Judgment of the Soul

Despite being the fifth entry in the series, Soul Calibur V's blade has not tarnished and maintains it’s anger venting factor. The game is still addictive and fun, especially if played against friends – a real multiplayer 1 vs 1. Having an online versus mode just brought in a lot of potential friends to play the game with, thus improving the game’s replay value tremendously. With outstanding visuals and beautifully composed music, Soul Calibur V deserves to be part of every fighting game fan’s collection. While novices might fret in entering the realms of Soul Calibur V, the game is very user friendly and can easily be learned without resorting to guides and walkthroughs. Just be careful of the AI in the games single player modes, since they tend to think everyone is a skilled gamer and would not hesitate to beat you if you did not take the time to learn the game. Easy to pick up, but difficult to master – Soul Calibur V is a game for novices and experts alike.

Visit the visually stunning Soul Calibur Website.