on 12 July 2013
I've followed the Soul Calibur franchise for years and have loved every single game they released. Soul Calibur 4 was particularly great, a game I can play again and again and rarely get bored of, with a fantastic character line up. So with that in mind, I was very excited to see what SC5 had to offer.
In all honesty, this game improves on nothing. Actually, let me correct that... the character creation feature has many improvements on SC4, but that isn't such a huge constellation for me when almost everything else seems to go South. The biggest two dissapointments in this game are 1) The Character line up and 2) Story Mode.
1) SC5 removes a lot of veteran characters: Sophitia, Cassandra, Taki, Seung Mina, Yun Seong, Talim, Rock, Zasalamel and Xianghua are all cut and replaced with a bunch of younger characters, most of which are offsprings that have similar weapon styles. You may ask why, if they have similar weapon styles and in some cases even look similar, it is an issue... well, having similar weapons and fighting styles doesn't mean they have similar personalities, and I found most of these characters really unlikable. They're either just plain annoying or downright hateful; the former being cases like Natsu, Leixia and Xiba; and the latter mainly being Patroklos and Pyrrah (who just so happened to be the two central characters, yipee!)
2) Now that I've mentioned these two awful characters, that brings me to story mode. Story Mode, rather than progressing, has basically degenerated in SC5. We are no longer able to play as the characters we choose and play out their story arc. This time round, it's all about the newbies; mainly Patroklos and Pyrrah- children of the far superior character who didn't make the game, Sophitia. Patroklos is treated like he's the hero of this piece and that is absolutely laughable! He has no mercy, no kindness and I honestly struggled through the whole of story mode to find a single redeeming quality in him. I might be more forgiving if he was at least an original looking character, but he really isn't... he's just your standard blonde pretty boy with a fighting style that is inspired by his mother. Then there's his sister Pyrrah and for the love of God, if she doesn't get on your nerves within the first 10 minutes, you should get a medal! All she does is whine and cry, all the damn time! Everything she says, she looks like she's going to have a nervous breakdown. She is the biggest wimp they've ever had in the series! I think the creators were probably hoping the innocent little girl thing would be somewhat endearing, but you just end up wanting to shake her and tell her to get a grip! On top of this, most of the story is told using still illustrations that looks almost unfinished... it looks as lazy as hell! We had better than this in SC1! A few of the new characters are just thrown into the story, with basically no introduction, I swear they act as if we've known them for years and should know what the hell they're talking about... there's just no development and therefore no connection! So yeah anyway, Story Mode mainly centers around these two losers. Enjoy!
The two new characters that I actually do kind of like are Z.W.E.I and Viola. These are without a doubt the best two attempts at new characters in this game. Mainly because they are actually pretty original and also because they have magical elements to them which make for interesting fights. Z.W.E.I has the power to summon a wolf like creature to help him battle, while Viola fights using a magical orb. But once again, I would have loved to have had a story mode in which we could select these characters and learn about them, but instead we only learn the things about them that relate to Patroklos and Pyrrah (ie: not much)
Now let's talk about unlockable characters. The unlockables in SC5 are, in a word, lazy! Most SC games have had a mimic character- SC5 has three! Now I don't mind mimics, in fact every once in a while I liked playing as Charade or Olcadan and getting a new weapon each stage... but having three unlockable characters who don't even have their own command lists; that's just plain lazy! We have Elysium copying female moves and EdgeMaster copying anyone and, the most unforgivable, Kilik: stripped of his own style so that he can copy the male characters (Why? Why the hell would they do that?!)
On top of this, two of the other unlockables are different versions of offset characters who we already know how I feel about. Alpha Patroklos and Omega Pyrrah, versions that wield soul calibur and soul edge respectively... apparently that warranted acting like they were totally different characters.
That leaves two more spaces on the select screen. One is filled by Algol, who I was actually quite happy to see return. The last is a DLC character. Oooh exciting, well with all the staple characters that weren't in the character line up, I bet they made sure one of them was the DLC! WRONG! Who do we get to download? Dampierre! What a slap in the face. Of all the damn characters they picked that clown? Well, on the plus side, at least being a downloadable, you're not forced to see his stupid face.
Oh and I almost forgot. Arcade Mode. 6 battles, with Nightmare at the end as boss (although you can select different routes which will give you a different boss). Nothing at the end to celebrate completion; no video, no picture, no nothing. Each battle also consists of three rounds now. It always used to be 2 rounds and a tie breaker if needed, now it's three even if you win the first two. I don't know why they felt the need to change this, it's been fine for 4 games and I personally think 3 rounds for every stage is too much and can drag on a bit.
In conclusion, this game has some good points. About 2 really good new characters, improving graphics, more in character creation and pretty cool arenas. But when it comes to the two main things: the characters and the story, I think Namco needs to look at SC4 (or the games before it), take a look at what they did right and then make sure that SC6 is back on track... because at this rate, the series might have already peeked.