SoulCalibur V Takes A Beating From Game Reviewers

SoulCalibur V Takes A Beating From Game Reviewers

With the past couple of years dominated by Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat-style 2D fighters, it’s nice to see the return of one of the big 3D fighting franchises. That is, unless you’re a game reviewer. Then it’s time to step into the critical ring.

Picking up the story of SoulCalibur and the Soul Blade seventeen years after the events in SoulCalibur IV (I’m assuming everyone was wiped out by that little green bastard, Yoda), SoulCalibur V features a lovely mix of characters both new and old, a cameo from one of Ubisoft’s most popular characters (Rayman? YAY! Oh, Ezio. Nevermind), and deeper character customisation than ever before.

Do these new features add up to big review scores? See for yourself.


Quarter to Three

However you felt about Soulcalibur IV, you have to give it credit for its own sense of style and identity. I can safely say there was no other fighting game quite like Soulcalibur IV. I can say no such thing about Soulcalibur V. Because there are, in fact, several other fighting games quite like it, most of them recently published by Capcom.

Some of the new gameplay in Soulcalibur V smacks of “make it more like a Capcom game”. For instance, your new supermeter can give some attacks a “brave edge”, or you can can store up supermeter juice for a powerful “critical edge” attack. As a strictly casual fighting game fan who could never pull off the last Soulcalibur‘s soulcrushes and soulbreaks and whatnot, I actually approve of this. It’s a simple and gratifying alternative, on par with the latest Mortal Kombat’s super moves. I can build up my meter and then stroke a pair of quartercircles with a three-button mash to trigger a quick cutscene of my dude doing something fancy. It’s not quite as spectacular as what my dudes do in Marvel vs. Capcom, but this game’s spectacle is all about the 3D models. Watching their breakway flashy ass-kickings is nearly reward enough. The extra damage from the attack is just gravy.



In peak moments this is swift, balletic combat that’s beautiful in full flow, though beginner players (like me) can find themselves immediately flicking from a smooth rhythm to stilted, lumpy weapon swinging. It’s a faster game than its predecessors, too, with flurries of attacks springing out of characters despite the overall movement speed feeling similar.

But some of the series’ main problems quickly make a return. Soul Calibur (SoulCalibur?) has continually struggled to establish its own enticing title character, instead drafting in gimmicky guest appearances to bolster its ranks. This time round it’s the turn of Ubisoft’s colossally successful Ezio Auditore to step up, giving the game an iconic cover star to sit alongside the ranks of a refreshed roster that’s mostly filled with the descendants and protégés of various mainstay characters. Thankfully, Ezio is easily Namco Bandai’s most successful guest star to date, and his careful and considered implementation goes a long way to remove the bitter taste left by Soul Calibur IV‘s disastrous inclusion of Yoda and Darth Vader.


Official PlayStation Magazine

You have three basic types of attack: horizontal, vertical and kick. Horizontal attacks slash enemies to prevent them sidestepping around you, whereas vertical attacks break an enemy’s guard when they crouch. Kicks? They’re for kicking people. Whatever your opponent does, there’s a counter to it. If you can understand that — and you win a custard cream if you got it first time — there’s no reason why you can’t become an effective fighting force in Soulcalibur V.

It obviously gets more complex than that, since every fighter has a weapon with a different speed, strength and reach, but you don’t have to mash buttons or practise for days to get wins. Speculative inputs quickly become deft strokes, and the training mode could scarcely be clearer. Everything is logical — there’s a fluid grace to every fight. Once you learn the simple stuff, much of it becomes intuitive. And no, intuition is not the same as guessing.



Mechanically speaking, SoulCalibur V arguably sees the series hit a level it has always promised but never really attained. It’s not without its curious design choices — such as having throw escapes do chip damage, rather than just making them less mash-friendly in their execution — but on the whole, the new engine makes for some absolutely stunning fights oth for players and spectators. Clashes are back, so two similar attacks can bounce off one another and reset the playing field once the sparks have dissipated. Double-tap sidesteps improve the 8-Way Run evasive arsenal, even if a lack of definition (read: something like Virtua Fighter‘s categorisation of linear, semi-circular and full-circular attacks) sometimes makes it difficult to judge hitboxes in 3D space; even a perfectly timed evade can be stuffed by some of the annoying auto-tracking moves or falsely advertised area attacks, though most linear hits can still be strafed and punished accordingly.


Game Informer

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.


Games Radar

It’s often tough to gauge the netcode for a fighting game on launch day, so we can’t guarantee that your online fights will clip along at fluid pace, but the social features, such as the Global Colosseo, add a nice touch. The Colosseo is a lobby set up for local players to hang out and set up matches. If you live in a city where there are organised meetups, it might not be as useful, but in case your local area doesn’t have anything in place, it could be useful. For what it’s worth, the matchmaking and games we played flowed smoothly and we didn’t encounter any lag.



Whether you’re an acolyte for whom the soul never stopped burning or someone whose embers glow weakly, SoulCalibur V will satisfy your need to slash, pummel and kick. Pulling in a superstar character from another franchise enriches the offering rather than debasing it and the goofily addictive character creation serves as a driver to continued gameplay. Project Soul’s given people loads of reasons pick up their latest effort and even more reasons to stick around. SoulCalibur V‘s a beautiful weapon, go sharpen your skills and find someone to cut.

Whatever, as long as I can make a kitty girl.


  • In my humble opinion, you can only take what Tom Chick has to say with a grain of salt. I wasn’t a great fan of SCIV’s character creator but he heaps praise on it. Goes on about it being deep but it just a create your own avatar and slap a pre-made move set on them affair. Far from deep.

  • I picked this up as a returned fan to the series. I played the originals (Soul Edge, SC, SC2 a bit) and a couple months back picked up SC3 to see if the kids would like it. At the time, they weren’t quite ready for fighting games. I’d actually picked p the iPhone version of SC and missed the feel of a controller so had sat down one night just to play a while, and they joined in and have been hooked since. 🙂

    So we picked up SC5 for the prettier graphics on the prettier TV and with nicer controllers. I have to say, it has some really good points and some really bad points. The good points /mostly/ outweigh the bad, but the bad kind of amount to it might as well not be Soul Calibur.

    Specifically, the single-player story mode is… There just isn’t a word for how bad it is. It is just a complete clusterfrak. One thing I loved about the original games was, while they were short and cheesy, every character had a storyline, and playing multiple times with different earned weapons would make things turn out differently. it was fun! When you didn’t have a mate, you could sit down and have some fun.

    This one… It’s one linear story. The preentation is voiced over storyboards and grates beyond words. Once you’ve done it once, that’s it. There is no point at all to ever pressing that option again.

    The other thing is that their online multiplayer system lacks one important thing: Players. Since I have a 360, I would have to pay a monthly fee just to access it. They had a deal for a month for a buck so I figured why not?

    A dollar wasted. There was /not one player/ in Australia. I have yet to see anyone. And playing anyone in the US is nowhere near as responsive and I just get chewed apart.

    However, the things the game does well is /everything else/. Fighting is a lot of fun, the characters are wide and varied. They axed some favourites for seemingly no reason in order to replace them with Younger, Perkier versions that grate a bit, but the movesets are the same so it’s minor. The animation is smooth and flawless and beautiful. The characters are sometimes a bit too chatty. If Pyrrah says ‘I’m sorry!’ one more time I may put a controller through the screen.

    Overall, I am happy I picked it up, especially since it seems like I dodged a bullet skipping SCIV, but it feels like they don’t ‘get’ what makes Soul Calibur unique. This review mentions it really feeling like any other Capcom game and I agree, by taking out the real personality of the game and characters (The in-depth storyline mode) it has made it a lot more generic, and it gets harder and harder to justify having so many games.

    I will watch and see what happens when they get around to SC6. I actually hope they can somehow keep Ezio; like Yoshimitsu before him, he might be borrowed but he fits into the world beautifully. I forgot he was there until I was looking for random characters I didn’t know to give my kids a bit more of a chance, and tried him out. He’s a blast to play and just feels like he blongs there. No shiny light-sword for him!

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