Rate This Review: Soul Calibur V
High: Beautiful Fighting Arenas
Low: Story Mode
WTF: Still Sketches?
So Iím sitting around playing Soul Calibur 5, and hereís a great looking game. Itís visually stunning. Iím watching two fighters battle it out on the dust filled plains, the sun setting in the distance. White and yellow rays are reflecting off the two swordfighters armor making them look angelic. Blades meet each other in a spectacular array of red and blue sparks. Dry spiky tumbleweeds bounce lazily on the arid desert floor. In the distance there is a war happening. I can make out tiny battles between pike men on the horizon. More soldiers are struggling to bring down a war elephant. There is a break in the swordplay and both fighters stand apart. My warriorís armor is intricately decorated, multi colored feathers lightly dance in the wind. I prepare to rush my enemy to deliver the final blow. Itís my fifth or sixth hour into Soul Calibur 5 and I realize ďthis game is really friggin boring.Ē
And thatís the main problem with Soul Calibur 5. Visually itís amazing, the sword fighting is solid, but there is nothing remarkable about the game as a whole. Graphically the game designers out did themselves. Itís a gorgeous looking game with a astonishing amount of detail in the fighters, stages and pre-rendered cut scenes. Thereís even a character creation tool with near endless customization options. Once you finished creating a fighter you can them bring into the ring and pit them against computer opponents. The fighting mechanics are competent enough; characters wield their weapons as expected, although some of the special moves come across a bit clunky. But hereís in lies the problem, the fighting is too, wellÖ mechanical. Itís not fluid; itís just there. You donít feel like youíre pulling off a stylish combo, or executing a tricky special move. It feels like just going through the motions.
Then there is the gameís story mode. Itís pretty standard fare, a young sword fighterís sister is kidnapped and he goes searching for her. You take turns swapping player control with the various characters in the gameís storyline. This story is told between battles using still frame artwork with lackluster voiceovers. After creating a drop dead beautiful graphics engine the design team went with still frame sketch art to tell the story. And it goes back and forth this way. Breathtaking swordplay combat one minute to crappy still frame artwork the next, the effect is very disorienting.
So in the end I cared more about looking at the fighters rather than participating in the actual fighting. Online modes flesh out the backend of the game with plenty of stats and opponent tracking, but there is hardly a community to support it. With the mass deluge of nextgen fighting games out there itís hard to recommend Soul Calibur 5. In this age of multi million dollar big studio games is there be a future for the Soul Calibur series? Is it worth it for a big studio to continue with something that is not a sure hit? Who knows? Perhaps somewhere out there, on the moonlit plains, under a pile of broken spears, glossy dented shields and shining chipped swords the souls still burns.