SOUL CALIBUR 5 Review Developed by:
Project Soul Distributed and Published by:
Namco Bandai Genre:
3D Versus Tournament Fighting Consoles:
PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Year of Release:
2012 Number of Players:
1 to 2 Online Multi-Player:
2 to 6 Leaderboards Support:
Yes Installation Memory:
7MB for Initial Installation onto Hardrive Rumble Support:
Yes Arcade JoyStick Support:
720p / 1080i / 1080p Audio:
In-Game Dolby Digital DLC Support:
Yes (Extensive) Instruction Manual:
30 Pages in Black and White written in English and in French ESRB Rating:
Rated “T” for TEEN (Contains: Mild Language, Suggestive Themes and Violence) Series Legacy:
Soul Edge, Soul Calibur, Soul Calibur 2, Soul Calibur 3, Soul Calibur 4, Soul Calibur Legends, Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny PLEASE NOTE: The XBOX 360 Version of “SOUL CALIBUR 5” was played for this Review! STORY: “A Tale of Souls and Swords Eternally Retold!”
“Soul Calibur 5” takes place 17 years after the events of “Soul Calibur 4” ends. The main plotline in this title now squarely focuses on Patroklos & Pyrrha: the two grown up children of Sophitia, a former warrior from past Soul Calibur adventures, and Rothion her husband who is a blacksmith.
At the dawn of the 17th Century, a brother and sister are in a desperate search for each other, unaware of the many evil forces surrounding them that wish to use them for their own sinister goals.
Meet Patroklos, the brother and Pyrrha, his sister. How could they possibly know that their search for each other would inevitably involve the two Spirit Swords, Soul Calibur and Soul Edge?
Patroklos is the self-righteous and often ruthless hunter and killer of the “Malfested,” human beings that have somehow being infected and mutated by the evil energy of Soul Edge. Pyrrha is a young woman who has been constantly alone and abandoned by all around her. She fears and hates being alone and would do almost anything to avoid that state of isolation.
In 1607, fragments of Soul Edge have scattered the world over and have fallen into evil hands. Heroes seek to use Soul Calibur to track down and destroy Soul Edge and it current users; that’s where the warriors from all over Europe and Asia converge on the world’s stage in an effort to battle against one another for their own personal reasons.
Well, that’s how the story of “Soul Calibur 5” is supposed to read like, but it does not really deliver in the end. Or middle; or beginning. For starters, a lot of the old cast of characters have been removed and replaced by newer, younger versions of themselves that are ultimately less interesting than the originals.
Taki, Seung Mina, Hong Yun-Seung, Setsuka, Zasalamel, Talim and Xianghua are cut from SC5. In their place are a few new characters like Patroklos, Pyrrha, Leixia, Xiba and Natsu. These new characters are given very shallow personalities, which don’t fit very well with the serious themes of the SC series. Also, their various quotes and verbal remarks are too plain, too cheesy or too corny. Natsu the ninja acts bored with everything; Leixia is a princess who is eager for a fight, while Xiba is always hungry for food. These were most likely attempts on the parts of the developers to come up with quick and easy-to-create new characters in a short span of time.
Patroklos and Pyrrha are the two new characters that have some depth and dimension to their personalities, because of how they are tied to the main plot involving the two Spirit Swords. Interestingly, the unusual relationship between the manipulative Tira and very gullible Pyrrha is also worth mentioning as one of the highlights of the storyline in SC5.
Z.W.E.I and Viola are two other new characters who have brand new and very unique fighting styles. Their personalities are okay, though they really could have used more development and motivation. Their fighting styles are more interesting that their personalities at any rate.
So, in a nutshell, the weakest point in SC5 is its storyline. It’s rushed, it’s lacking and it’s predictable. The characters within the story are mostly hollow and shallow, with only a few notable exceptions. In fact, you don’t even get to meet or to even see many of the main characters in SC5 during the course of your Story Mode. Most of them never even show up once! Most are never even mentioned in the narrative!
There are plot-holes and unanswered questions in the storyline of SC5. For example, Patroklos changes his fighting style almost half-way through the entire story, but there is never any real or clear reason why he does this, or why this happens to him. For much of the earlier segments of the narration, he fights more like a Sword & Shield welding warrior from Europe. Then, after some brief and poor looking story intervals, he is now masterfully using a Japanese Sword as his primary weapon, even though they never show him training to use the weapon at any point! You as the gamer are pretty much expected to just accept this very sudden and unusual change in Patroklos’ fighting style. I mean, the man is even shouting out a few Japanese phrases during some of his Katana Sword Attacks, but he’s clearly European! These plot-holes and abrupt plot-changes are never correctly explained even within the context of the SC5 storyline. That simply indicates that the story was rushed out the door with the rest of the game and unfortunately it shows.
What’s worse is that there are no more individual character storylines or endings in SC5. That feature is gone now. Instead, there is just one “Story Mode” which tells the tale of how Patroklos and Pyrrha fight their enemies in an effort to get reunited, only to have thing go from bad to worse for them in the process. The story mainly focuses much more on Patroklos that Pyrrha. In fact you use him to play through most of the Story Mode, switching to only a couple of other different characters along the way.
In other words, when all is said and done, you are only going to get ONE ENDING in SC5 ever. No multiple paths, no alternate routes, no different endings. Once you finish the entire Story Mode, that’s it for the narration. Beating Arcade Mode or any other mode in SC5 will NOT give you any Ending Cut-Scene, Ending Image, or End-Story Text. It does not matter who you use: none of the characters in SC5 have any individual Story-Driven Endings, like the series used to have in past games. For a series that has built up a reputation for having lavish settings and characters, with larger-than-life plot lines, it is a crying shame that the main part of your Single Player Experience has been cut-down so drastically in SC5.
The same thing applies to Ezio Auditore da Firenze, the guest character from UbiSoft’s “Assassin’s Creed” series. He has no tangible role within the in-game storyline in SC5 whatsoever. Ezio is present in the game as a playable guest character in most of the game modes, but he has no storyline ending anywhere in the game. ANIMATIONS and GRAPHICS: “Looking Good!”
Well, the Soul Calibur series rarely disappoints anyone who loves beautiful visuals and SC5 is no exception. It pretty much delivers the good when it comes to great looking interior designs, exterior stages, and all of the surroundings that make up the fighting area.
Good use of colors, lighting effects, shading effects, fire, ice and lighting effects populate the visuals of SC5. Some attacks produce elemental effects, which are all spot on and convincing to look at, from Unblockable Attacks to Critical Edge Super Moves.
New Brave Edge Attacks are basically enhanced Normal Attacks and they have somewhat explosive visuals surrounding your character when you activate these specific moves.
In general, virtually all special attacks have some sort of cool-looking animation, graphically splash or video effect to let you know they are occurring. From Guard Impacts, Just Impacts, Brave Edges, Quick Steps, Unblockable Attacks to Critical Edges: they all have some attractive noticeable effect to let you know they are being activated.
Some stages now have no “ring-out” borders, corners or edges to them. Neither opponent can knock the other one out of these types of arenas. These stage types are welcome additions to SC5, but some of them use noticeable visual gimmicks to make them look like they have no physical barriers. The end result is that towards the edge of the arena, you will notice that the ground tends to actually move and rotate very unnaturally, in and effort to maintain the illusion that the arena has no borders or barriers. This visual problem is most noticeable on Tira & Hilde’s stages.
And, speaking of stages, Project Soul has spiced up a few of them up to make them look livelier. In some backgrounds, you can see the carnage of war unfolding as armies battle one another (Hilde’s stage). On other stages, you can see desperate human soldiers invading the castle of an evil ruler, only to be suddenly ambushed by monstrous creatures (Nightmare & Pyrrha Omega’s stages). Other stages are a throwback to Soul Calibur 3 and these include the Astral Realm stages found in SC5, which looking like haunted & magical zones between the world of the living and the dead. Festivals occur in the background of Leixia’s stage while other stages occur in enclosed, gladiator-like arenas where ring-outs are impossible. Don’t forget to look out for the Skull & Cross-Bones Flag of the Dread Pirate Cervantes! His stage is storm-soaked ship on the high seas where the weather is whipping the vessel around chaotically!
Some stages are dual mirror images of each other. It seems like a cheap and easy way for the developers to artificially increase the number of stages but only by doing less work in the process. To be honest, it isn’t all bad, since the stages that are dual mirror images have some interesting scenery to look at.
For example, Siegfried & Z.W.E.I share a stage which is a Castle Moat Bridge. When it is Siegfried’s stage, you can see human knights trying to defend their fort against invading monsters. When it is Z.W.E.I’s stage, there is not conflict in the background since it occurs during peacetime. Hilde and Tira share a stage (Hilde’s is a battlefield during the day while Tira’s is the same empty battlefield at night with no war happening). Raphael and Viola also share a stage: Raphael is on it during the day while Viola is on the same stage at night
But for the most part, the stages in SC5 have scenes of fighting, war or some sort of mystical event occurring in the background and they are mostly all interesting to look at. No doubt you will find a favorite among them.
SC5 continues the tradition of having a full 3D video intro. This time, the animation shows Siegfried battling against Nightmare in an Astral Realm. These two characters have been the main arch-enemies in the SC series over the years, so it’s cool to finally see them fight it out in a cut-scene. The fight could have been longer, but it still manages to convey a sense of epic scale to this confrontation of good versus evil.
Unfortunately, we are only shown Siegfried and Nightmare and no other SC5 characters. No one else is seen; even the newest characters to the series, who are typically given some kind of introduction to the fans in the game’s opening sequence, are not shown in the intro to SC5, which is a missed opportunity to spice up a major part of this titles visual presentation. Where are Z.W.E.I and Viola? Why aren’t they shown in the intro? What about other SC5 characters? Why are they a no show?
The best parts of the visuals come with the new Creation Mode. In here, you can edit the clothing and colors of existing Main Characters in the Soul Calibur Universe, or you can of course, create your very own Original Male of Female Characters from scratch. You get clothing, armor, gloves, boots, gauntlets, greaves, capes, hoods, hats, necklaces, arm-bands, earrings, belts and many other accessories to dress up your Original Creation.
Some of the armor looks a bit bulky and does not always fit perfectly onto your Custom Characters. Also, there are the always persistent “clipping” issues which have resurfaced in SC5. Basically, clipping occurs when two or more physical objects in the game pass right through each other, instead of realistically touching or “colliding” with each other. So, in Creation Mode and outside of Creation Mode when you are playing with your Custom Character, you will tend to see some Clipping Problems every now and again. Considering this is the 4th game in the Soul Calibur Series which has Custom Character Creation (when you count “Broken Destiny” for the PSP) you figure that Project Soul would have a better way of dealing with fixing or at least improving on the problem of “clipping.”
Still, visually, the “Create-A-Soul” (CAS) Mode is the best part of SC5. The armor, clothing, weapons, tattoos and stickers all looking really well-made and if you are patient enough, you can make characters that easily rival even the existing main cast of SC5.
In general, details like characters facial expression, stitches in their clothing, the shiny surfaces of metal armor, weapons and shields, all show up nicely in the visuals of SC5. This applies to the main cast, as well as to your own Custom CAS.
The Story Mode crashes down to earth in a horrible way when it comes to graphics and animations. In fact, very cheap-looking scribbles and storyboard sketches are used to tell most of the story in SC5! Once in a while, you will get a full 3D Cut-Scene which show some of the characters in game interacting with each other. Otherwise, expect to see very poor artwork STILLS (not animated), with voice-overs. These are what you are forced to sit-through while you are playing the story mode. Even the Old Art Work Images from the past Soul Calibur Arcade Games have much better quality pictures than what you see in SC5, which is supposed to have a superior story mode! AUDIO and MUSIC- “Let’s Dance Again Sometime!”
The sweeping Orchestral and Symphonic Soundtracks, which the Soul Calibur Series is famous for returns in a major way in SC5; it’s typically upbeat and adventurous in nature and fans of the old titles in the series will find music in this latest part to enjoy listening to.
In fact, if you buy the Special Edition of SC5, you get the Official SC5 Soundtrack, in addition to an SC5 Artbook and the “Making of SC5” DVD. The SC5 Music CD contains tunes from not just SC5, but also Soul Edge, SC2, SC3, SC4 and SC: Broken Destiny, which all a nice mix of old and new tunes. Still, more actual SC5 tracks would have been welcome on the CD, though that fact honestly does not negatively impact the review of the game itself.
Each stage has its own character and its own theme song. They all seem to match every well, so expect to hear military themed music on Hilde’s battlefield stage, and expect to hear more celebratory music on Leixia’s festive stage. The stages that involve Nightmare’s castle obviously have much more urgent and much more sinister music.
And speaking of music, you can go into the SC5 Audio Options Menu and listen to the entire musical soundtrack for each character or stage. This is a cool little addition that is welcome in SC5, for those audiophiles that are into video game music. You are even allowed to go into the Sound Settings and take one character’s theme song and assign it to another character as the music that will now play on their stage.
When weapons clash, you hear the clanging of metal on metal, as swords, hammers, axes, lances, daggers and spears make contact with armor, shields and each other, during combat. These audio effects all sound authentic, but the added bonus is that you can go into the Sound Options Mode and change how you want the Weapon Effects to sound like: more realistic or more exaggerated.
Some very cool things added into SC5 are the character specific quotes and taunts. Rival characters who hate each other will say rude, witty or angry phrases to each other right before a match starts. Even as the match is underway, these rival characters will continue to call each other names or to mock one another whenever you perform certain types of attacks.
For example, if you have a Maxi versus Astaroth match, expect Maxi to constantly hurl angry insults at the Axe-Welding Monster. Why? It’s because Astaroth was responsible for murdering Maxi’s friends many years earlier in past Soul Calibur adventures. Also, since Isabella “Ivy” Valentine hates her father, the evil pirate Cervantes, both characters will use different hateful phrases to address each other specifically. These types of verbal exchanges also happen between a few of the other characters in SC5 and it is a very welcome addition to the audio features in this game.
Miss a grab or have that grapple countered, and guess what? Your character will verbally complain about their mistake! Successfully dodge, counter, or attack your opponent and your character will boast or brag about their fighting skill! Knock an opponent out of the ring and down into the abyss below and your foe will literally cry out any number of complaints about their unfortunate fate! These verbal phrases are very cool additions to the overall SC5 experience.
One odd thing about some of the spoken audio is that some of the words and phrases which some of the characters say are “too modern” to have verbally spoken back in 1607. For example, during certain moves in combat, Z.W.E.I actually says “My bad!” When Maxi is Guard-Crushed, he complains by saying “Dial it down a notch!” During one of Xiba’s intros, he actually greets his foe by asking: “Hey! How’s it going?” One of the voice-over selections you can give your Female Custom Character makes the following statement, with a deep southern accent: “You look nice and tough.” More than likely, people back in the early 17th century were not making up or using 20th or 21st century sayings like these. Exclamations like that don’t break the game, but still they are really out of place in a title like SC5. GAME-PLAY- “Guaranteed Hit!”
There have been some changes made to the speed, responsiveness and timing of the gameplay in SC5. This means some significant and interesting changes as to how veteran fans of the Soul Calibur Series will have to play Part 5. And, you HAVE TO learn to adapt to the somewhat newer play-style and pace if you want to win in this title.
Default Controller Configuration
Left analog Stick / Direction Pad: Move your Character, 8-Way Run, Select Menu Option, Select Item
Tap Left Analog Stick / Directional Pad Twice in the same Direction Quickly: Quick Move
X-Button: Horizontal Strike (Arcade Button Symbol is “A”)
Y-Button: Vertical Strike (Arcade Button Symbol is “B”)
B-Button: Kick (Arcade Button Symbol is “K”)
A-Button: Guard (Arcade Button Symbol is “G”)
Press and Quickly Release G: Just Guard
Left Bumper: Grapple and Throw (Arcade Button Symbol is “A+G”)
Left Trigger: Grapple and Throw (Arcade Button Symbol is “B+G”)
Right Bumper: “A+B” Attack / Function
Right Trigger: A+B+K Function
Tap Away from your Opponent and Press A+B+K: Guard Impact (Requires Half-Full Critical Gauge to Execute)
Input A+B+K along with a Character Specific Attack: Brave Edge Attacks (Requires Half-Full Critical Gauge to Execute)
Quarter Circle Forward twice plus A+B+K: Critical Edge (Super Attack which requires one Full Critical Gauge to Execute)
In SC5, you use your swords, axes, spears, whips, ring-blades, nunchuks and daggers to strike at your enemies horizontally or vertically. You can also kick them to mix up your attacks. You obviously use the Guard Button to block incoming attacks (everything except for Grapple Attacks and Unblockable Attacks).
You have Grappling Attacks which are all unblockable, but they can be avoided, countered or escaped from. You can grapple your foe from in front, behind, form their left side or from their right side. Each of your grappling animations from those positions are all different looking from one another. Some characters have extra grapple attacks which require more complex Command Inputs to execute. Astaroth, Ivy & Cervantes are the best examples of SC5 characters that have more elaborate grab moves like these. Some grapple attacks can be used to set-up your foe for additional attacks, while other grapple attacks can lead directly to an instant “Ring-Out”; so it’s best you learn which throw moves work best for your character in different situations.
When you use the JoyStick Directions inputs, in addition to the button presses, you can produce a variety of different attacks, which you will need to drain down your opponent’s life meter so as to KO them and win the round.
If time runs out, then the player with the most health energy left wins the round.
Knocking your foe out of the ring, gains you an instant win of just that round only; these are called “Ring Out” victories and they can very easily turn the tide of battle in your favor or against you if you are the victim who was knocked out of the arena.
The overall speed and pace of SC5 has increased dramatically. It plays at a rate much faster than any other Soul Calibur title up to this point and it shows. Even veteran SC players will have to take a step back a bit before getting used to the new fighting pace.
But don’t be disappointed: that is actually a good thing. Why? Well, for some odd reason, the newly modified gameplay in SC5 is considerably more “balanced” when compared to past SC brawlers, which is a positive thing.
Sure, there are still some characters in SC5 who are just better equipped, with attacks that are faster, do more damage or have more priority. But, almost all the characters on the roster stand a chance against each other in a fair fight. Of course, adding in human players to battle one another always produces some interesting matches and sometimes some unpredictable results, but that’s always a good thing in any fighting game and SC5 is no different. If you learn your character to a competent degree, you will stand a good chance against almost anyone you come across, be it a CPU foe or a Human-Controlled Opponent. The different skill-levels of human players still do matter, but none of the main characters on the roster are useless, not even Dampierre, a DLC character who is more of a goofy comedian than a full-fledged warrior.
The “Critical Finishers” from “Soul Calibur 4” are gone and have been replaced with “Critical Edges.” These are essentially Super Attacks which do a lot of damage if they connect. Some Critical Edges like Viola’s and Z.W.E.I’s can actually set-up their intended targets for additional damaging combos.
When it comes to executing Critical Edges, you need to fill up you Critical Gauge. Each character gets to fill a maximum of 2 Critical Gauges. As you attack your opponent in battle and as you are the victim of incoming attacks, your Critical Gauge slowly fills up. When one of them is full, you can now perform your Critical Edge Super Move.
“Brave Edges” allow you to enhance very specific attacks of your character so that their attacks now hit more times, do more damage or have some other special gameplay properties, which will give your characters some temporary advantage in battle. For example, Ezio the Assassin normally just shoots one cross bow arrow at a time. But, with certain Brave Edge Attacks, he can now shoot multiple arrows. Other characters have Brave Edge Attacks that greatly power-up their grappling and throwing attacks (warriors like Astaroth, Cervantes, Natsu and Ivy come to mind). Just remember that any and all Brave Edge Attacks require you to have your Critical Gauge filled up at least half-way.
Unblockable Attacks are back in SC5 and they are still slow to connect on their target. Flames light up around the weapon or around the limbs of your character as they begin to perform their Unblockable Attack. If such moves do connect, they tend to do quite a bit of damage to your foe.
“Guard Crushes” occur if you or your enemy blocks too many attacks during the course of a match. The outer rim of your life bar will first flash yellow and then red. As it repeatedly flashes red, you now have to watch out: any one of the next few blocked attacks can force your character into a Guard Crushed state. If that happens, they will then enter into a block-stun state that lasts up to 1 second or so. During this time, which is really like an eternity in such a fast-paced fighting game like SC5, your character becomes completely vulnerable to Damaging Combos, Launchers, Knock-Downs, Brave Edge Attacks, Grapple Moves, or even Critical Edge Supers. A good tactic is for you to pressure your opponent into a Guard Crush State (if they block attacks too frequently) and then take full advantage of their vulnerable position to go in for that extra damage and to try to get a win.
Some of the older characters from previous Soul Calibur installments have had their movelist change in SC5; some for the better, others not so much. The new gameplay mechanics and the much faster pace of SC5 probably made it necessary for the game’s developers to make some MoveList changes to some of the returning characters. Some of the SC fans of older games may or may not like the movelist changes.
For example, gameplay-wise, Hilde is considerably improved from her outing in Soul Calibur 4. Aeon (who was formerly “Lizardman”) has lost some of his older attacks, which have been replaced with newer ones that aren’t as interesting or effective as his prior moves.
Depending on how you set the difficulty level, you can get a decent challenge from the CPU-AI. On the “Easy” setting, the computer barely fights back, while on “Normal” it starts to put up a bit of a fight. “Hard” and “Very Hard” are settings only for Pro-Level or Expert SC5 Players to mess around with, since the CPU-AI will become frustrating to defeat.
All in all, control handling in SC5 is largely responsive, since the actual gameplay is one of the best parts about this title. Combos, counters, evasions, supers, etc, all respond on command, whether you are battling human opponents or the CPU-AI. The faster pace of the fighting has actually helped out the overall gameplay, and it has not hurt it, contrary to what some fans of the older, more slowly paced gameplay might have claimed.
One last thing to add in the gameplay section concerns weapons and armor: they no longer have any more magical or supernatural effects to them. Weapons and armor also no longer grant any of their users (Regular Cast or Custom CAS) any special abilities, like they used to in SC4. All of that is completely removed in SC5, which could be seen as a good or bad thing, depending on who you ask about it.
Joke weapons return, but all they really do any different (aside from looking very goofy) is make funny or odd sound effects each time you use them to strike your foe. Besides that, they too also have no special effects that alter your character’s gameplay. GAME CONTENT- “This World is mine for the Taking!”
Once you start up the game and after the Intro Video and Title Screen sequences are shown, you then get the following Menu Screens to visit (the text written below is taken word for word from the SC5 Instruction Manual):
OFFLINE PLAY: Play the game offline by yourself against the CPU. You can also play against another player in VS battle.
XBOX LIVE: Play the game on Xbox LIVE against other players. You can also view Leaderboards and replays.
STORY -1607 A.D- Experience the story of Soul Calibur V. The story focuses on the main character Patroklos and the two swords in 17th century Europe.
CREATION: Customize characters or create your own characters. You can also take a picture of the created characters as a thumbnail.
OPTIONS: Change various settings such as controls and sound.
NOTE: Under the Options Menu, you get Control Settings, Display (Video) Settings, Sound (Audio) Settings, Stage Music Settings, Software Notice.
If you go ahead and click on the OFFLINE PLAY option, you are then taken to another screen and you are given the following selection:
LEGENDARY SOULS: A bonus Mode where you fight CPU with higher difficulty. Your clear time will be ranked.
ARCADE: Fight your way through 6 consecutive stages. Your clear time will be ranked.
QUICK BATTLE: Fight against various characters. You can earn titles by winning.
VS BATTLE: Fight against another player or CPU. You can also watch the CPU fight against itself.
TRAINING: Adjust various settings and practice for battle. You can also learn each character’s main moves and combos.
NOTE: Towards the bottom right of the main Astral Home Menu Screen, you have 4 buttons visible:
START: Edit Your License
Y: View Your License
X: Soul Link
All the modes are pretty self-explanatory, so find the one you want, click on it and get started. A-Button confirms your selection and advances you to the next screen or to the next mode, while the B-Button cancels your current selection or takes you back to the previous screen, mode or menu.
Some of the modes are initially locked out and have to be unlocked through playing the game; Legendary Mode is one such example.
Legendary Mode is basically like a Boss-Run Mode in which you fight CPU characters who fight you back tenaciously. This mode is E-X-T-R-E-M-E-L-Y difficult to clear; seriously, good luck just trying to beat your first opponent, Kilik. Now try going for 3 rounds each against 5 plus more characters! If you want a challenge, that will become unbearably frustrating a lot of the time, go for Legendary Mode. The CPU-AI does not go easy on you in the least.
In SC5, you can create your own License, which is basically like your personal SC5 Gamer ID Card that shows other gamers all of your recorded stats; like how long it takes you to clear Arcade Mode, how many Titles you have obtained, how many Created Characters you have made, how fast or slow did you play through Legendary Mode, what your win-loss ratio is, how many hours you have spent playing SC5 overall, and so on and so forth.
For your Player License, you can choose to use a Preset Image of the existing SC5 characters as the picture on your License, or you can choose to use an Image from your very own saved Custom-made Character. At any time, you can change whatever picture is associated with your license.
As you play through Arcade, Legendary and especially Quick Battle Modes, you earn “Titles.” These are words, slogans or phrases, printed onto a small rectangular banner image, which you can then attach onto your license. The title on your License can be funny, witty, grim, sad, silly, cool, thoughtful, sinister noble or anything else in between. The point is that you pick from a very long list of titles and give yourself an appropriate title which matches your mood, your character, your personality, or your whacky sense of humor! Remember that other players online can see and read all the content on your license, including the title you pick to put on it! Of course, you can change your title to something else at any time, if you so choose.
Versus Battle allows you to set up a fight on any stage against any other warrior. You can set the number of Rounds to Fight (2 to 5), the difficulty level of the CPU-AI, as well as what the time limit should be.
The cool thing about Versus Battle Mode is that if you don’t feel like playing the game yourself, you can set it up so that you can watch 2 CPU-controlled characters battle it out under whichever settings you choose. This is especially cool if you have any Custom Characters of your own already made. Just pick them and watch them fight under the CPU’s control against another CPU-controlled character. In other words, you can turn Versus Battle Mode into an offline “Watch” or “Spectator” Mode, which is an awesome addition to SC5.
In SC5, some of the Stages have two areas to them. So, for example, if you knock your foe out of a stage or off the ledge of a stage, they can fall down to a lower-level of that same stage, which can actually look completely different from the first upper level. Then, your character can then automatically jump or glide down to this new lower level and continue fighting the next round against the his or her enemy who just got knocked down there. The stages of Astaroth and Maxi are good examples of areas like these.
Some stages have a second area, which can only be automatically accessed after a few Rounds of any given Match have been cleared. Elysium’s “Utopia of the Blessed” is an example of such a stage, which starts out as a very wide open space where no Ring-Outs are possible, only to magically change to a much smaller area, in which Ring-Outs are very possible all of a sudden.
Other stages like Voldo’s dungeon have 4 walls that make the stage look a bit confined, having no way of doing any ring-Outs. However, during the course of you combat, your actions or those of your opponent can knock down at least 2 of those walls, opening up the stage to new Ring-Out spaces.
It is little touches like this that make SC5’s gameplay content and stage/arena content interesting and memorable. The developers took some ideas from past SC titles and incorporated them into SC5’s stage designs to come up with some interesting new ideas, which actually work well as both visually pleasing and having gameplay-related functions.
In Quick Battle, you literally search the globe to find CPU-AI opponents to find, to fight against and to defeat before you are then able to get their “title” and add it to your long list of collected titles. Quick Battle is set up to look like you are in some sort of Online Fighting Game Lobby, seeking real human foes to beat down. The truth is that you are actually only fighting CPU-AI, who may have been programmed to fight mimicking the gameplay styles of actual human players. Also, the enemy characters in Quick Battle are mostly original Custom Creations that the Project Soul developers programmed into SC5 for your amusement. Expect to see so very interestingly designed CAS CPU-AI opponents in Quick Battle Mode.
Arcade Mode is one of the Modes you will play through the most. You can select to fight against warriors from Europe or Asia. You do this by selecting which “Route” you wish to take. “Standard Route” will combine opponents from Asia and Europe to fight against you. Leaderboards Route can only be played on “Normal” difficulty and you best overall clear time is saved and ranked online against other players. “Extra” Route basically mixes up characters and their stages so that one character will appear on another character’s stage. For example, Dampiere might appear on Mitsurugi’s stage. The really dumb thing about the Extra Route is that the camera is forceful set, beyond you control, to an awkward “from-behind” perspective. This lower angle of view can screw up how you perform your attacks, because the whole perspective is not normal or evenly balanced. Extra Mode is honestly a wasted idea on SC5 and a poor use of the game’s memory. Why developers wasted memory space programming in the Extra Route into the Arcade Mode is baffling, since the Point of View throughout that entire route, makes playing it a bit of a nuisance.
At the end of each Route is a different Boss Character. Kilik is the final boss of the Asia Route; Cervantes is the last boss of the Europe Route; Nightmare is the final boss of the Standard Route; Siegfried is last boss of the Leader Board Route, while certain random characters (like Alpha Patroklos, Pyrrha Omega or Algol) are bosses you might encounter at the end of the Extra Route.
When it comes to online play, “Soul Link” is the feature where you can register up to 3 different human rivals of yours and view their stats on your menu screen. Soul Link basically shows you all of your registered rival’s relevant stats that he or she has in relationship to the matches which you two may have fought out against each other. Soul Link is a way of basically keeping track of your favorite or most challenging human opponent, in regards to whatever activities they are doing concerning SC5. If you so desire, you can choose to break up your Soul Link to another human player, for whatever reason, so you are not forced to maintain that connection in any way.
Online gameplay is also available, as this is pretty much the standard for any fighting game in today’s market. You can select to fight against human opponents who live closer to you, so as to get the best internet connection; this largely minimizes the chances of you and your human rival having your internet connections getting dropped during any given match.
When you log onto Xbox Live so as to play SC5 against other human players, you get the following menu options:
RANKED MATCH: Play an online match. The outcome will affect your Xbox Live ranking.
PLAYER MATCH: Up to 6 players can join a room and enjoy battling or spectating. Match outcomes do not affect Xbox Live ranking.
GLOBAL COLOSSEO: A lobby in which up to 100 players can participate and battle or communicate by text chat.
LEADER BOARDS: View all types of ranking such as “Arcade” mode clear times and Xbox Live battle rankings.
REPLAY: Watch your own saved replays or download replays. You can also upload your own replays for others to watch.
That last few seconds of your own match replay can be saved and uploaded online for other gamers to see; similarly, you can download and view the replay videos of other human players by getting them through Xbox Live. Just remember that you need an Xbox Live Gold Membership Account to upload or download any end-of-round or end-of-match replay videos.
When you start off playing online, you are ranked at around E5. Once you play and win in ranked matches, your online rank starts to increase to E4, E3, E2, E1, and then up to D5 and so on. You also obtain Ranks Points from the online matches which you win. You gain more Rank Points and your Rank Level increases the more online matches you play and win. All of this information is tracked and stored on your License.
The absolute best part of SC5 has to be the Creation Mode (Create-A-Soul or CAS). In here, you can edit the look of regular characters (change the color of their clothing, etc), or you can go ahead and make a brand new 100% original new character of your own.
This time, you can more directly affect your character’s height and muscle mass by selecting the appropriate body type you want to build upon and by adjusting the sliders to your liking. Sliders now affect the thickness of specific body parts and limbs. In other words, you can make a tall, muscular He-Man or Amazon Warrior-type or a more normal looking character: the choice is yours. The amount of Custom Creation Options, from the number of voices and faces, to being able to make taller, shorter or fatter male or female characters, now significantly exceeds anything that has come before in past SC titles.
Changing the height of your character affects their gameplay: if you Custom Create a character who is short, they will have less reach (shorter ranged attacks), but they will inflict more damage on their foes (stronger attacks). Making a CAS who is tall will give them more reach (longer ranged attacks), but they will now inflict less damage on their foes (weaker attacks). The logic behind this gameplay mechanism is questionable at best, considering that a taller fighter will essentially have to be weaker than a shorter warrior. How fat or how thin or how muscular your warrior is does not affect the range or power of their attacks in any way. A better option might have been to make more muscular, fatter, taller fighters slower to use, but more powerful, while shorter, thinner warriors should be much faster, but weaker. That set-up for how your CAS would play like probably makes more sense than the current way the developers chose to do it in SC5.
Worth mentioning here is that there is an extra Fighting Style available only to your CAS in the Creation Suite, and that is the “Devil Jin” Style from the Tekken series. This fighting style has to be unlocked over the course of playing SC5, but when you do obtain it, the DJ fighting style is more based on weaponless, hand-to-hand martial arts combat. There are some supernatural abilities thrown into the mix, but those are mostly reserved for the Brave Edges, Unblockable Attacks and Critical Edge Supers. Feel free to assign the DJ Fighting Style to any of your original Custom Characters: it’s 100% exclusive to them and can’t be used by the regular cast of warriors.
And speaking of Fighting Styles, you cannot assign Algol’s fighting style or Ezio’s Fighting Style to any of your CAS. Algol is the last boss from SC4 and his fighting style has never been made available to be used by your CAS; not in Part 4 and not here in Part 5. Ezio belongs to UbiSoft, so Namco probably made a deal with them to keep Ezio’s Fighting Style exclusive to the guest character from “Assassin’s Creed.”
Something important that has to be pointed out about Character Creation is that you can only create an original look for your Custom Fighter, but you cannot create an original moveset for them. In other words, you have to pick an existing Fighting Style of one of the already established Soul Calibur Roster Members. Their attacks will become the basis for all of your CAS Character’s moveset. So, if you pick Yoshimitsu’s Fighting Style as the basis for you CAS, then all of your CAS attacks will pretty much be exact copies of Yoshimitsu’s attack moves. The same applies to all the movesets of all other main roster members when you use them as the basis to create a Fighting Style for your Custom Warrior.
SC5 still does not let you take existing moves from one established fighter and combine it with attacks from another established warrior, before then assigning the different attacks to your own Custom CAS. In Wrestling Games, you can take different attacks from different wrestlers and combine them in different ways, to create an original attack arsenal for your Created Wrestler. You still cannot do any of this in SC5.
Another odd thing about SC5 is how the computer keeps track of who you play with and how much you play with them. To further illustrate this point with an example, let’s say you make a Custom CAS that uses Voldo’s moveset as their basic Fighting Style, and you play the game a lot using that Custom Character of yours; the game will keep track of how often you play with your Custom CAS. Unfortunately, the game will NEVER recognize your original Custom CAS as being the character that you have actually been using all this time. Instead, the game will list the character you have been playing with so much as “Voldo” (using Voldo’s image in the stats section of your license) only because your Custom CAS has Voldo’s Fighting Style as the basis of his or her moveset. The same thing applies if you use any other Fighting Style of the other main cast as the basis for your Custom CAS moveset; the main cast will be credited as the character being played by you and no image of your Custom CAS will be shown in the stats section of your License.
In the Creation Suite, you can put your Custom Fighter into a “Mock Battle” to test out how they will play in actual combat. Mock battle is like a practice mode, but linked directly to the Custom Creation Mode so that you can put your CAS through the paces of combat to see how they look as they fight their enemy on-screen. There was a similar feature like this one back in Soul Calibur 4, so it’s great that the development team brought it back in Part 5.
Pick and choose from a decent selection of clothing, armor, gloves, gauntlets, belts, greaves, shoes, socks, boots, helmets and so much more, as you dress up your CAS. You can select the “View” Option to see just how well such articles of clothing and armor fit onto your CAS as they stand still or strike a variety of poses.
Clothing and armor in SC5 can now have a variety of art-style patterns added onto them, to make them look even more unique for your CAS. You can even go as far as customizing the look of your weapon (to a more limited degree, to be honest). Most weapons can have their colors changed to whatever you like, while other weapons can have both new colors as well as new art patterns added onto them. In addition to all that, you can even go as far as adding in the color of the attack trail which your weapon leaves behind it whenever you swing it! On top of that, you can pick out “Hit Effects” for your weapons, like magical hit effects, anime-style hit effects, or comic book hit effects! These splashy and flashy graphics will show up each time your Custom CAS successfully strikes their opposition in combat. Needless to say, all very, very cool additions to SC5!
Another plus to Custom Creation is the Photo Snap-Shot Feature. Essentially, you pose your character from a list of still shots or animated motions, and you take a picture of them. That picture can be decorated to look like a portrait or a vacation postcard, or anything else in between that your mind can think up. There are new background & foreground images you can add to your Custom Snap-Shot, to give it a more personal touch. Once you save this image, it will be used not only to identify your CAS Model, but you can use said Snap-Shot Image as your license’s main picture and show off your creations to the world! This Thumbnail Creation Feature is definitely a positive and a very welcome addition to the whole creation process in SC5.
Even though more voices and faces have been added into the Creation Suite of SC5, we honestly could have used even more of each. The voice selection is a bit more than what was in SC4, but you will want more voice-overs for your characters pretty soon once you exhaust the limited options given. At least you can now alter voices by tinkering with their Pitch, Tone and even adding in a “Malfestation” Option (based on the human beings mutated by the evil energy of Soul Edge), to make your Custom CAS voice sound even more unnaturally distorted. These are all good audio options to have and are needed since the lack of different/multiple voice-types (especially for female CAS) puts limits on some of the character types you may have in mind to create.
The same goes for character faces: they are more in Part 5 than in Part 4 and Part 3, but again, even more would have been welcome. These are actually needed, since there is still no option to allow you to go and directly alter the overall facial expression of your Custom Fighter to your liking (like you would have in a typical Wrestling Game).
Clipping (described in greater detail under Animations and Graphics Section of this very review) causes some visual eye-sore problems. Some clothing, armor and accessory parts just don’t look right together and they tend to pass through each other, and or, pass through limbs or other body parts. Also, some of the armor just looks too bulky on some of the smaller, more normal-sized body types of your CAS, which can be an odd sight.
Limited clothing, armor, jewelry and footwear means that you better get ready to spend a lot of money on TONS of SC5 Downloadable Content (DLC). This is where Namco-Bandai laughs at the fans: you have to buy a lot of DLC if you want to get the parts you really like: they are not within the game itself; certainly not on the game disc. Things like Amazon Outfits and Dark Warrior Armor, all of which could have been included onto the original SC5 game disc, are absent and must be purchased separately before you can dress your CAS with them.
The Clothing and Accessories DLC content easily clocks in at over $100 (well over 4000 MicroSoft Points), and that does not even include the Classic Soul Calibur Music DLC! The makers of SC5 knew this would happen and decided to milk gamers and fans for as much extra money that they could, which is simply not fair. DLC like Modern Day Clothing is understandable, since SC5 takes place in the 1607, so paying for DLC of that nature is fine. But there are other parts from the older SC titles (like Part 3 & 4) which are missing in SC5 altogether. What’s worse is that some of those older CAS parts now have to be purchased separately as DLC: you don’t own that old content right out the box in SC5 anymore.
Remember how in SC4, by repeatedly playing the game, you earned in-game Gold Points, which you could use to buy out weapons, characters, artwork, clothing, armor and accessories, all done within the game? Kiss that goodbye in SC5. In this current title, the developers make you pay REAL money for numerous DLC they know that you will want or need. It is all very expensive to keep up with and ultimately an abuse of the DLC system, considering how rushed and incomplete certain parts of SC5 look and feel like. SUMMARY and CONCLUSION: “Home is far, far away.”
There is no other way to put this: SC5 is a rushed game, and it shows.
The storyline isn’t really bad, since it has the potential for interesting characters and narration. The plot involving two long-lost siblings who are looking for one another, but end up been manipulated by unseen dark forces into a confrontation against each other, which also involves them using the two opposing Spirit Swords, all sounds cool on paper. Alas, the actually delivery and execution of said plotline falls short. The story in SC5 is poorly written, poorly edited, poorly presented and is ultimately just feels incomplete.
In fact to get each individual character storyline in SC5, you pretty much have to buy the “Soul Calibur 5 Collector’s Edition,” which contains the Official SC5 Artbook. That Artbook contains the profiles of each of the main cast of characters in the game, and their profiles tell of their story. It’s really a shame that you can’t get their official narrative within SC5 itself.
Credible Sources on the internet have already confirmed that the story mode in SC5 was supposed to be at least 4 times longer than it currently is. However, because of budget, time and resource constraints, the story content was cut down on purpose. This hurts the game, since the Soul Calibur series is well known for its larger-than-life, good-versus-evil plot lines that involve strange warriors from different parts of the world. Taking that and cutting it down to something less almost kills all of the worthwhile 1-Player Content for gamers in SC5.
Also, there are no more Arcade Mode Endings for each individual character. In the past, whenever you finished all the stages in the arcade mode and defeated the final boss, you were presented with a short artwork or short cut-scene which shows off your characters motivation for fighting, or shows you what happens to him or her at the end. Kiss that goodbye in SC5: all you get at the end of Arcade Mode is a calculation of your best clear times.
To be fair, this is very similar to SC4, but at least in SC4, you were given a separate Story Mode to playthrough, with an ending, even for your Custom Character. In SC5, you get only one storyline ending ever. You also cannot pick who you want to use in the Story Mode in SC5: you are stuck with Patroklos most of the time and switch over to Pyrrha once or twice.
The Creation Suite rocks: that is the best mode in SC5, pure and simple. You can make tall, short, fat, skinny, lean or muscular warriors, and even decorate them with additional accessory attachments (up to 3 separate pieces), which you can attach to the upper, middle or lower body parts. These accessory attachments can be made longer, wider, more in-depth looking, or you can choose to reduce them in size as well. And that’s just for starters! With time, patience and an imaginative mind, you can come up with your very own original characters, or you can re-create your favorite warriors, heroes, or creatures from your favorite comic books, anime, manga, cartoon shows, TV shows and movies.
Had the Project Soul developers given fans more options to control more aspects of the Creation Mode (like sliders to adjust facial design and expression, or even more freedom to make even larger and more muscular fighters) then SC5 would rival even the Creation Modes in popular Wrestling Games. The Soul Calibur series comes very close with SC5, but they are not quite there yet when it comes to almost total Creation Freedom; not yet.
Speeding up the pace of the gameplay now has put SC5 into national and international Fighting Game Tournaments in a major way. The faster paced gameplay has clearly attracted newer players to take the SC series more seriously as a competent and competitive 3D versus brawler. The overall controls respond very well to your inputs and you can pull off all manner of attacks and combos, using either a control pad or an Arcade JoyStick.
Characters voices and what they say have improved a bit in SC5. Friendly and rival characters will now say very different and very specific things to each other before, during and after a match. This also might hint at the fact that there is more of an extensive storyline involving each of these characters, which the makers of the game could not or would not explore further, since they cut out so much content from the story mode.
The backgrounds of stages in SC5 are a bit more lively and active when compared to SC4. Armies battle monsters around castles, forts and on the battlefield. People dance around during colorful festivals, and ships bombard each other with cannon fire during a skirmish at sea. Some stages also have multiple levels and areas, which you can automatically transition to after a certain amount of time. You can also get knocked down to the other lower areas of particular stages.
The winners in SC5 have to be the Creation Mode and the overall GamePlay: more time and effort were put into these aspects of the game and it clearly shows. It’s just too bad that you cannot take your CAS and venture into really deep, worthwhile 1-Player Story or Quest Modes, because they don’t really exist in SC5. The story mode that the game does have does not allow you to use your CAS in it.
At the end of the day, the gameplay and Creation Modes save SC5, period. There aren’t many other reasons to play the game all by yourself. If you like to battle against human opponents online, then SC5 is like a Fighting Game Fan’s dream come true: you will enjoy playing this game for that reason alone. If you want an awesome 1-Player Experience that has a rich story, multiple paths, multiple endings and the ability to use your Custom Characters within the narrative, then you will be sorely disappointed with SC5; this tile simple has none of those things.
Hopefully, Project Soul or any other future developers of the Soul Calibur franchise will learn valuable lessons from the success and failures of SC5, which is that it is always better to give the gamer more choices for them to pick from, whether those are more 1-Player experience choices, or multi-player choices. Also, hopefully, future versions of Soul Calibur will see the return of fan-favorite characters like Taki, Seung Mina, Hong Yun-Seung, Setsuka, Zasalamel, Talim and Xianghua, as well as their particular weapons and fighting styles, so that they can be used by your Created Characters. Review by Game-Quest-Ex.