The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
This is the best Soulcalibur ever. The fifth (sixth, really) entry in
the main franchise avoids the missteps of the previous two while
retaining their good parts and adding a few new features of its own.
Even so, “best Soulcalibur ever” doesn’t mean what it used to. We’ve
been doing this for over a decade at this point. No matter how smooth
and vibrant the new coat of paint is, we’ve all been here
The roster is as huge and varied as ever. The
proper online play added in this edition is long overdue. Soulcalibur V
hits all the right bullet points that a fighting game sequel has to
have, but more importantly, it doesn’t screw anything up. Nothing has
moved backwards, unless you count a few of my staple moves being changed
or removed. That is all but inevitable when we’re talking about a
series I’ve dumped several hundred hours into.
Most of the changes
are ancillary to the actual fighting, but there are some notable
tweaks. Many more moves that incorporate guard impact windows have been
added, which integrate the guard impact concept more smoothly into
intermediate-level play. A super bar similar to Street Fighter’s is now
part of the game, though super moves aren’t as devastating. Even a
perfect Brave Edge executed in a counter state usually does less than
half a health bar of damage. Finally, the flow of any given round feels
even more focused on initiative and the ground game than in previous
The new fighters won’t convince me to move away from
my traditional mains (Mitsurugi, Xianghua, and Siegfried, for the
record), but they’re interesting additions. Fiona has powerful
long-range attacks with her orb, and she strikes as fast as anyone in
close, but her mid-range game seems weak. Z.W.E.I. is harder to get a
handle on; his toolset focuses on summoning a spirit wolf and is unusual
to the point that I had a heck of a time coming up with any decent
tactics. Ezio seems less overpowered than previous guest characters,
lacking an easy-to-execute close range get-away move to get back to his
stronger mid-range distance. Patroklos is very reminiscent of Cassandra,
with explosive mid-range moves and easy launchers that reward a poking
playstyle. Nightmare and Kilik are, of course, still complete cheese.
play is much better supported in Soulcalibur V than in previous
installments. Ranked matches work like StarCraft II, with the network
handling matchmaking within a simple set of player-defined criteria.
Setting up a room to play casual games according to your preferred
ruleset is easy as can be. As with all pre-release review code, I was
unable to test the final network infrastructure or get as much online
play in as I’d like, but barring some unforeseen failure on Namco
Bandai’s part it should be a destination mode.
The persistent stat
tracking and progression is wonderful, and ties in beautifully to the
enhanced character creator. As you level up and unlock new cosmetic
items, you can outfit your own created character (who uses an existing
fighter’s style) or any of the default characters with whatever you
like. Want to put a big purple afro on Ivy? Go nuts. If you’re really
dedicated, you may even unlock something for a lady fighter to wear on
the TV when your mother walks into the room.
Soulcalibur V is the
next-gen Soulcalibur that I’ve been wanting as a fan for years. At the
same time, it’s nothing if not more Soulcalibur. Now if Namco Bandai
would release a DLC pack with the full Soul Calibur II roster, I could
finally retire that disc.