A Fighter of a Different Calibur!
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.
A Tale of Souls and Swords Eternally Retold
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.