|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Project Soul||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 1, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
As far as fighting franchises go, SoulCalibur is one of my all-time favorites. From its over-the-top character designs to its time and strategy-based battle system, SoulCalibur has always had a uniqueness about it that set it apart from the Street Fighters and Tekkens of the universe. However, much like other fighters, SoulCalibur was a home console fighter, which seemed fitting considering the grandiosity of the series. However, SoulCalibur has arrived on the PSP in the form of SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny, and while a little bit of the SoulCalibur magic seems to have been sacrificed to bring the SoulCalibur series to the PSP, a lot has been retained, and if you are a fan of the series, you won't be disappointed!
Although I wasn't expecting a full roster for SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny, I was pleasantly surprised by how many characters made their way into the portable iteration. Series mainstays like Siegfried, Taki, Voldo, and Nightmare are of course present, but relative newcomers like Hilde and Algol have also been included in the roster. All told, there are 24 characters in the roster, including a new SoulCalibur character and a famous cameo fighter.
The SoulCalibur series has had some big names before for its character cameos, like Link and Darth Vader, but this newest iteration is including one of the most compelling characters from a modern franchise: Kratos of God of War fame. As a SoulCalibur cameo character, Kratos gets the full SoulCalibur treatment, complete with several different notable Blades of Chaos he can use. These include the powerful Ghosts of Sparta and the grandiose Titans. Interestingly, the game classifies Kratos as an "easy" character, and recommends him for beginner users. While he does have some very powerful standard attacks, advanced players will find a lot of advanced techniques in Kratos' roster repertoire as well.
In addition to Kratos, there is another new character in SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny - Dampierre. This original character is classified as having "normal" difficulty and is characterized as a con artist with plenty of personality (and an amazing moustache). This new character has a larger move set than Kratos, and he also has more advanced techniques. Although his fighting style is similar to Taki's, he has plenty of interesting attacks, including numerous "fake out" moves where Dampierre will act like he is hiding or hurt after a mid-range blow but then launches into a surprise attack. Dampierre is definitely a character with lots of personality and is a welcome addition to the SoulCalibur family, especially for established players.
As far as the battle system is concerned, the fighting in SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny is remarkably similar to the combat in previous entries. As someone who played SoulCalibur II-IV on PlayStation systems, I was amazed at how well the controls translated from the PlayStation consoles to the PSP. Many characters, including Raphael and Xianghua have moves sets that include some of their biggest signature moves from past iterations with the exact same button mapping as the previous PlayStation versions. This is definitely an advantage for more experienced players, and this will reduce the amount of time you may need to spend in the game's training mode in order to get full command of each character's moves set.
However, even though there are plenty of familiar features, one thing is noticeably missing from SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny: a story mode. The game does include a single-player mode known as "The Gauntlet", but this mode's aim seems to be about teaching you basic fighting techniques rather than delivering a story. Instead of fighting rounds with enemies, you will have a certain fighting condition (like striking after an enemy blocks or dodging at a certain time), and once the objective is complete you move on to a new round. You don't even have to beat enemies. Just perform the requested action and move on. Unfortunately, this mode feels more like an extended tutorial than a proper single-player fighting offering, and I was very disappointed in the lack of story mode. Sure, we've all heard the Siegfried/Nightmare storyline before (which forms the basis of SoulCalibur lore), but it would have been nice to include, especially for new players.
Even though there is no story mode, there is a very engaging Trial mode. This takes the form of the tower-based modes in SoulCalibur IV, and it allows you to take your character of choice through different stages based on attack power, defense, or stamina. This has some surprising replay value, and the stamina-based trial actually features an endless wave of randomly generated enemies, which lends it most of its replay value. Trying to up your level of defeated enemies is certainly a challenge worth undertaking and gives hardcore players something to strive for.