Fighting games have matured dramatically over the last ten years, and staple series have had to do a lot to catch up. Fighting fans no longer are content with just a decent roster and an arcade mode. To stand out among its peers, Soul Calibur 6 had to up the ante over the previous game, while still retaining the great fighting the series is known for.
Fortunately, Bandai Namco has outdone themselves with Soul Calibur 6. The latest in the series retains the soul of the games while adding a ton of features and a few new fighting mechanics that add just enough to the gameplay to make things interesting for long-time fans.
Soul Calibur 6 Review – Pseudo-Reboot
The story modes (yes there are more than one) for Soul Calibur 6 are some of the most extensive I’ve seen in a fighting game. The plot of the game rewinds to just around the events of Soul Calibur. Siegfried still claims the Soul Edge and unleashes the Evil Seed, but things after that play out a bit differently than in the original timeline.
In the Story Mode, Soul Chronicle, you’ll follow the series fighters as they seek to put an end to the effects of the Evil Seed. You start with Kilik and follow him and others through an extensive story spanning seven years. This is probably one of the most in-depth plots I’ve ever seen in a fighter, and each character gets a chance to shine.
The real meat of the game is in the Mission Mode, Libra of Souls, though. In this mode, you can create your own fighter from an extensive array of options and quest through the world of Soul Calibur 6. Mission Mode is a bit of an RPG-lite, and you can level up your character with experience you gain from fights, as well as equip them with food to grant beneficial effects, and new, more powerful weapons.
The story behind Mission Mode is that your created character is affected by the Evil Seed, and the only way to prevent their death is by absorbing rifts scattered throughout the world. Along the way, you get to make decisions that will push your character towards either good or evil, which will affect how your story plays out. Depending on your alignment you can unlock different paths or secret missions, which lends itself to replayability.
Libra of Souls and Soul Chronicle intertwine as well, as you get to meet the main characters along the way. So, in effect to get the entire story, you’ll want to play both modes.
Soul Calibur 6 Review – Smooth as Silk
Visually, Soul Calibur 6 is for the most part outstanding. Characters and stages look great, and the story is told through beautiful illustrations punctuated with the occasional cutscene.
Most importantly for a fighting game, Soul Calibur 6 manages to look gorgeous while keeping a consistent framerate. Playing on the PlayStation 4 Pro, it held a steady 60fps with no noticeable lag or slowdown. Your results may vary on other consoles, but on the Pro, it was smooth as butter.
The one place that could have used some improvement was the character creator. There are a large number of options to build your fighter with, but not all of them interact well together. It’s hard to make a sweet-looking demon knight when his cape is clipping through his armor. Hopefully, this is an aspect that will be tweaked in future patches, but it was one glaring flaw in an otherwise visually impressive game.
Soul Calibur 6 Review – What a Character
Many of the characters from previous games make a return in Soul Calibur 6. Since this is a pseudo-reboot, most of those who were around in the original Soul Calibur are wearing a variation of the costume they wore in that game. Others, like Yoshimitsu, have donned a completely different look.
The complete launch roster is:
- Cervantes de León
- Chai Xianghua
- Heishiro Mitsurugi
- Isabella “Ivy” Valentine
- Raphael Sorel
- Seong Mi-na
- Siegfried Schtauffen
- Sophitia Alexandra
- Geralt of Rivia
Fortunately, all the characters, despite their new or revamped looks, remain faithful to their previous incarnations. However, this means that Ivy is still rather on display, and Voldo still has his bondage suit going on, among other risque things. There’s no actual nudity, and for a fighting game, the violence isn’t that graphic. But, it is rated Teen by the ESRB, so if you’re looking for a family-friendly fighting game, you may want to wait for Smash Bros. Ultimate.
One notable addition to the roster is Geralt of Rivia. Soul Calibur is known for its cameos, and 6 is no different. Unlike most cameo characters in fighting games, though, Geralt actually gets weaved into the storyline. You can also select his fighting style for use in the character creator, so he’s not just a gimmick. He’s given the same attention as any other character in the game, which is a great way to handle a cameo.
Soul Calibur 6 Review – Fighting Fantasy
The core gameplay mechanics of Soul Calibur 6 remain the same as previous games in the series. An emphasis is placed on a balance between offense and defense, with both aspects of combat receiving equal attention.
The focus isn’t pulling off special moves or super attacks here. Instead, you’ll want to unleash powerful combos to overwhelm your opponent’s defenses while keeping ready to backpedal onto the defense when necessary.
In Soul Calibur 6 the best offense is sometimes your defense as Guard Impacts now no longer cost any of your Soul Gauge to use. This allows you to turn a fight that you’re being pummeled mercilessly around quickly and makes slower characters more competitive.
A new mechanic that has been introduced in this game is the Reversal Edge. When you make contact with this reversal move, a brief animation plays and what is essentially a battle of rock, paper, scissors begins. Each of the three face buttons that perform an attack is weak to one of the other buttons and beats another. You can also dodge into the foreground or background, crouch, or use a Guard Impact. If you and your opponent tie, the person who performed the original Reversal Edge has the advantage for the next round.
The Reversal Edge isn’t revolutionary, but it gives a bit more depth to the fighting system. It can be chained into Lethal Hits or Guard Breaks as well. It’s an excellent opportunity to break an opponent’s offense or defense and is a welcome addition to Soul Calibur‘s move roster.
Soul Calibur 6 Review – Well-Rounded
Soul Calibur 6 is rounded out by the typical modes you’d want to see in a fighting game. There’s an arcade mode that puts you through a series of eight battles, which is a great way to get a little combat in quickly. There’s also a training mode that has all the bells and whistles you’d come to expect from an excellent fighting game.
I didn’t get to try much of the online multiplayer. However, it works rather smoothly, and I have no complaints there. The biggest problem was finding someone to play, but that’s an issue I run into often during reviews. There’s both a ranked mode and a casual mode, and the only criticism I have is that perhaps some of the RPG elements could have been worked in here. I’d have loved to see unlockable cosmetics to signify a particular milestone in multiplayer.
As far as local multiplayer, there’s just a simple versus mode. This game heavily concentrates on the single-player experience, so that’s to be expected. If you’re looking for a more PvP-centric fighting experience, this game will likely leave you wanting.
Rounding out Soul Caliber 6‘s features is a Museum mode which features galleries, info about characters, music, and some tips about combat. It’s a good way to refresh your memory about characters or the story and is a welcome addition to the game.
Soul Calibur 6 Review – It’s Got Soul
I’m a single-player aficionado, so Soul Calibur 6 really appealed to me. The deep Story and Mission Modes were a ton of fun and were a great way to learn the lore of the series. The fact that this game is a pseudo-reboot makes it a perfect jumping in point for those who have never played Soul Calibur before. Soul Calibur 6 keeps enough of the series roots, even given its reboot status, that old time fans should have a blast as well.
If you’re looking for a multiplayer-heavy game, this isn’t it. It has a serviceable ranked mode that will keep you entertained for a while, but the meat of this game is in the story modes. I personally loved that so much attention was paid to the single-player experience, and because of the depth of the story and fluid combat, I found this to be one of the most enjoyable fighting games I’ve ever played, adding a ton of features and a few new fighting mechanics that add just enough to the gameplay to make things interesting for long-time fans.