|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Project Soul|
|Pub: NAMCO Bandai|
|Release: January 31, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
The original 3D weapons-based fighter, SoulCalibur was known for its easy-to-learn/hard-to-master fighting style of horizontal attacks, vertical attacks, and dodging. For four games, it avoided the allure of super bars and crazy combos, but it seems to have finally caved in this with the fifth entry in the series. What will SoulCalibur be like now that much of what we know is changing? Let's take a look.
First of all, the game is noticeably faster. Even Seigfried, who was known for being rather slow, swings his massive body-length sword with speeds that were considered on the fast side in previous SoulCalibur games. As a result, fast characters have become much faster, gaining mixups more akin to agro characters in 2D fighters. As a result of this increased speed, combinability is vastly increased as well. In one of the early trailers, it appears as if Phyrra, the Sophitia-stand-in for this game, pulls off a five-hit air combo after a launcher. This is something you would normally only see in Guilty Gear or vs.-style games.
Another new addition is the super bar. Located on the end of your health gauge, the super bar appears to be split into four sections. As you attack, defend, or take damage, the bar begins to fill, with clean hits filling the bar the most. After filling once, the bar resets and starts filling again, and a counter next to the bar increases by one. As of now, it seems as if the maximum you can fill this counter to is 2. One stock can be used to use super moves, which pretty much work the way they do in any other fighting game. They are extremely powerful, sometimes cinematic moves that take off a lot of health. And I mean a lot! Some super moves have been shown to take off almost a half a bar of life. We haven't yet been told whether the bar can be used for things other than super moves, but the existence of divided sections makes us believe that some sort of EX move using a portion of the bar will also be available.
Everything else you know and love form SoulCalibur is still here, only it's been sped up a bit. Characters can still eight-way run, parry, and grab/grab escape just like they used to. Parries in particular seem very powerful as they leave the opponent extremely open, more so than they did in SoulCaliburs past. Stage selection is still important, as characters can still be knocked out of the ring for an instant win. However, this time around, characters also get moves that allow them to use walls and other aspects of the environment as well. One of the new characters, Natsu, has a move that lets her kick off a wall into a diving attack, making her more dangerous when cornered.
The cast appears to be a mix of brand new characters and returning veterans, though the new characters seem to resemble many of the veterans in some way, shape, or form. Natsu plays a lot like Taki, just with a few extra moves. Phyrra is the daughter of Sophitia, and her move set is nearly indistinguishable from her mother's. Leixia is the daughter of Xanghua and she too has a very similar move set. In fact, the most unique newcomers are Patroklus, the son of Sophitia who uses a much more extreme fighting style than his conservative sword-and-shield mother, and Z.W.E.I., a character who uses swords with three handles and appears to be a cross between Cervantes and Talim. Also, he seems to be able to summon ghost werewolves. Awesome.
The game is set a good seventeen years after the events of SoulCalibur IV, and considering this, many of the characters have aged quite well. Ivy, for example, hasn't lost any of her, uh, assets, if you know what I mean. Many of the other main characters of SoulCalibur are also coming back and similarly seem to be unaffected by time. The returning cast so far consists of Hilde, Maxi, Mitsurugi, Siegfried, Voldo, Tira, and the ever-persistent Nightmare, who was immoral anyway so I suppose it makes sense.
Overall, SoulCalibur V is looking to be a great fighting game. It's everything you love about SoulCalibur, amped up to meet the standards of today's rabid fighting game player. In a world filled with full-screen beam supers, cinematic instant kills, and combos that last the entire match, sometimes you just need to stab the ground so hard that shards of ice erupt from it to pierce your foes. (That's Seigfried's super by the way, and it looks amazing.) Will SoulCalibur V be the next big step for the series or will it just alienate hardcore SoulCalibur fans? Only time will tell, but right now it's pretty safe to start getting hyped about this tale of souls and swords being eternally retold again.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer