|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Project Soul|
|Pub: NAMCO Bandai|
|Release: January 31, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
SoulCalibur is one of those franchises that you either love or hate. The combo-heavy fighter has never shied away from creating an over-the-top atmosphere, complete with ridiculous power-ups, characters that look like they just walked out of a fantasy novel, and a battle system that encourages memorization of ridiculously long chain combos. If this sounds like your kind of game, then you will absolutely love SoulCalibur V. And that's probably something you already know.
SoulCalibur V is going to feature several of the character we've grown to know and love, including series mainstays Siegfried, Nightmare, and the other "Soul" characters. However, in order to continue the battle for Soul Edge, SoulCalibur V will be introducing a whole new cast of "next generation" characters to carry on the fight. Much like SoulCalibur III, the fifth installment will be very narrative-focused and will have a rewarding single-player mode, complete with cutscenes animated by CyberConnect2 (which is probably most famous for developing the Naruto Ultimate Ninja series). If you are a big fan of the lore of the SoulCalibur universe, V will definitely get you back on track, and this time without all the silly Star Wars references.
However, SoulCaluibur V will still have a cameo character, and this time it's Assassin's Creed hero Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The Italian Assassin will be decked out in his pre-Revelations gear and will have access to a whole host of weaponry, including throwing knives, a crossbow, and even a pistol. Of course, you can't just whip one of these tools out and start gunning down Cervantes or anything like that, but these weapons will come in to play when doing special moves, counters, and long combo chains. Ezio is going to be in both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version of the game.
But enough about characters; let's talk about the battle system. SoulCalibur V has two new components designed to make battles both deeper and more strategic: Brave Edge and Critical Edge. In order to unleash these moves, players will need to fill a brand-new four-part meter placed underneath the stamina bar. Brave Edge attacks are the less powerful of these attacks and consume a quarter of the bar. These attacks are fast, but do more damage than a standard special attack. Critical Edge attacks, on the other hand, consume half the meter in a more devastating cinematic attack.
In addition to the new offensive components, SoulCalibur V has some new defensive features as well. Among these is a guard impact move that can parry a move with an explosive counter. The game also features an active armor system that can wear down over time. Though previous SoulCalibur games have had this feature, breaking armor in V will involve wearing down an opponent to a certain point and then using a high-powered attack to finally break through and cripple them. Players on the receiving end of attacks will get a warning that their guard is about to be broken, which will give them time to either block or counter the attack before their armor self-destructs.
The game is also sporting some serious production values. In addition to the outsourced cinematic scenes, SoulCalibur V will be using motion capture technology for all its animations. The result will be fluid attacks that flow together in a natural way. The customization system has also been overhauled for SoulCalibur V and will feature more options than ever. Though specifics haven't been released, I would hope that attacks will be more customizable this time around, as SoulCalibur IV had plenty of aesthetic options but not much in the way of battle customization.
SoulCalibur V is scheduled to come out early next year, and looks like it is going to be another stellar entry in the series. The game will certainly keep the over-the-top SoulCalibur style, but will have enough new offensive and defensive elements to make it distinctive from its predecessors. Add that to some great production value, an enhanced customization engine, and a return to a stronger focus on narrative, and you've got a game that promises to be extremely well-rounded. If you are a fighting fan, or just love a good ol' button masher, you won't' want to miss the first big fighting game of 2012.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Contributing Writer