Soul Calibur has had it rough lately. After a lackluster effort with the third game and odd showing with the fourth game, it seems like the series had fallen far from the graces that the first two games had given us. This series has received a lot of love from me over the years in the form of a lot of arcade time spent with II and III, but I was skeptical about how Soul Calibur V would play out.
Does the soul still burn strong for this series? Strongly enough for hope.
The game is set 17 years after the events of Soul Calibur IV, and Story Mode revolves heavily around the characters Patroklos and Pyrrha, the son and daughter of Soul Edge veteran Sophitia. Initially, Patroklos starts off his adventure searching for Pyrrha after she was kidnapped during the events of Soul Calibur IV. Patroklos soon learns there’s more to the story than just finding her sister, soon learning that the two spirit swords aren’t just fairy tales.
The story itself is interesting enough, but shouldn’t take anyone longer than two to three hours to complete. However, the game focuses a little to heavily around Sophita’s children and leaves you guessing about the game’s other new additions. The new characters suffer from bit roles in the story and are left wondering how they play a role in the bigger picture.
Upon completion of the game’s story mode, you unlock Legendary Souls mode. From Soul Calibur beginner to seasoned veteran, the difficulty is probably the most punishing in any fighting game. Legendary Souls mode is an arcade-style battle set against characters who have had major roles in the past game’s series. The game is set to the highest difficulty, and the computers will be no pushover in these battles. The unrelenting combos and the rather cheap AI will get the best of you multiple times. Often I found myself rage-quitting due to the sheer difficulty. It makes me wonder why Nightmare could even move that fast.
Most gamers will be spending a bulk of their time in Quick Battle. This mode sets itself up like an online lobby, where you could fight against the characters themselves or the colorful cast of created characters that the game has provided. Win, and you earn titles to collect and dress your profile up with. One of the more noteworthy opponents in this mode is Katsuhiro Harada, the producer of both the Soul series and Tekken series. He serves as the most difficult character possessing the soul of Devil Jin, a style exclusive to the character creation mode. There’s over 200 titles available in-game, so there are plenty of battles to be had.
Speaking of the Character Creation mode, this game delivers the most robust customization the game has seen so far. After two games of armor affecting the way your character talks or even plays, they finally decided to drop it and give players just the option to make your character as awesome or as ridiculous as possible.
Another chunk of the player’s time will be spent in the game’s online mode. I’ve had some good experiences with it lately, with its lag-less matches (depending on the connection), as well its good matchmaking system. New in this installment is the option to set your location and region for searching purposes. While setting location is nothing new, a nice little touch includes being able to drop your position on a map to exactly where you live.
While the series itself has hit a couple bumps in the road, it seems like Soul Calibur V has made a conscious effort to restore things back to the way they once were. While it will never be the first or second game, I could say that this game has made its way back into my heart again.
Pros: Solid gameplay, lots of stuff to collect, robust character creation mode, detailed online mode
Cons: Lots of stuff to collect (and a lot of work to collect it), lack of previous games’ single-player modes