SOULCALIBUR V (PS3)
The Soul series of games from Namco started back in the mid-90s as an arcade fighting game, later released for the PlayStation. By the time we saw a sequel the SOULEDGE had changed to the now familiar SOULCALIBUR which was considered by many to be a classic, and one of the key Dreamcast titles.
Now 17 years on we have the sixth main game in the Soul franchise, SOULCALIBUR V, which is available for PS3 and Xbox 360. SOULCALIBUR V retains the weapon based aspects of the preceding games while significantly tweaking other aspects, such as removing Critical Finishes, for a fresh approach.
As the plot unfolds we are taken into a series of battles in a best of five round format where we win by knocking out our opponent or kicking them out of the battle area. These battles are against small groups where we take on one foe at a time and occasionally we fight single characters over the length of the battle. Combat in SOULCALIBUR V also feels a lot different to the likes of MvsC or Dead or Alive. In this game we have three main attack buttons, one horizontal, one vertical and kick. Block takes the fourth action slot and then our shoulder buttons are used as combinations which allow us to action more advanced moves. Press the shoulder button assigned to Vertical+Horizontal+Kick for example and we execute a Brave Edge, more powerful attack which drains our Critical Gauge (attack energy bar). Perform two down to forward sweeps on the movement pad/stick followed by the shoulder button and we can perform Critical Edge, draining our Critical Gauge and dealing the most damage to our opponent.
Along the way we also take control of a few sub characters to advance the plot and this lets the player experience the different fighting styles that the game offers, varied due to each character having their own different weapon.
These characters come into play when we move to the other game modes within SOULCALIBUR V. The other modes can be played against the CPU or on the PlayStation Network, including ranked games. Arcade takes us through six consecutive stages with our clear time ranked, in quick battle we fight against various characters and earn titles by winning, VS Battle see’s us play against another player on the console and training lets us practice for battle.
As with the vast majority of recent games various achievements can be obtained in each mode and characters, levels as well as customisations are all available. Customisations is another area where this game separates itself from many others in the genre as we can create our own character from scratch opening up a very customisable fighting experience. Also included as a further unlock is Legendary Souls, a final game mode which see’s us fight against the CPU with higher difficulty.
Graphics and Audio
The audio in SOULCALIBUR V is really split into two categories. For the score we have a selection of tracks which offer decent background music and each has its own over the top name such as "Sleepless: The Untamed Beast". The fighting sounds during battles really add some meat to the onscreen action and are proably the most impressive audio aspect while the voice acting is good, if a little over the top. There is however a pre and post-fight voiceover which tries to offer inspiring or helpful phrases which is far less successfully implemented.
We noted earlier in the review that SOULCALIBUR V sets itself apart from many other fighting games as it offers a more detailed story in single player mode than most. This was a cause for concern initially as it is often very hard for developers to cross cultural boundaries and make a story engrossing and enjoyable for gamers across the world. On the whole Project Soul have succeeded though. There are occasions where the script isn’t great and the plot could do with being fleshed out a little more but as the episodes (levels) progress it is hard not to be drawn into Patroklos struggle to find and rescue his sister. This is helped along the way by the high production values on the CGI cut scenes as well as the more static anime based storyboards. That said, the clash in styles of the two can be a little jarring where we would have liked to see all CGI or all static instead of a mix… though this is a minor issue compared to the very annoying in pre and post battle commentator. The rest of the cast do a decent job but that "character" has too limited a phrasebook and ultimately adds nothing to the game.
So single player mode complete we have unlocked a significant amount of content and can really get into the other game modes. Whether that is online or offline a wide variation of content is available to the player after the unlocks and this increases the value of the game significantly, especially as the story mode can be played through in around 3 hours. The character creation mode also adds longevity to the game.
Elsewhere the product’s production values are very high, the arenas are some of the best we have seen in this type of game, the characters (and fighting styles) hugely varied. The sound effects are also great with some really thumping impact sounds which add weight to the on-screen action.
It is probably an indication of the quality in story mode that we wanted it to continue past the conclusion of the plot; it does feel short. However that mode really should be seen as an introduction into the more expansive multi-player/online aspects of the game where we test our fighting quality and tactics against players around the globe. Care should also be taken not to judge this game on a quick vs. battle as it is not as accessible as competing titles, it takes time to master and enjoy SOULCALIBUR V to its full extent.
A thinking players fighting game and that mixed with the weapon based combat and huge variation make it stand out as being one of the best in this genre for some time.
Today we get hands on with the open beta for Hazard Ops bringing you our launch review including 4K gaming footage. [jwplayer mediaid="42880"] Available on YouTube in 4K
Watch AND read our GRID Autosport video review by Stuart Davidson on the PC platform recorded in full 4K resolution and including a 4K screenshot gallery.
Wolfenstein The New Order (PC) Review In the history of gaming few franchises have managed to last as long as Wolfenstein. The first title was a 2D adventure game back in 1981 with a sequel following soon after. When iD Software took over the management of the franchise in 1992 they...