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Review: Soul Calibur V

by Steven Williamson on 6 February 2012, 09:50 3.5

Tags: Namco (TYO:7832), PC

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A self-indulgent customisation mode gives players the option to create brand-new characters, with a wide range of options to help them achieve the right look, from changing the colour of individual garments to giving them a beard or afro. These are nice touches that you can then bring online to do battle against other player's creations

The only other reason to keep you from just jumping straight online is the ludicrously difficult Legendary Souls mode, which pits you against the bosses on the highest degree of difficulty. It's a mode that may appeal to hardcore players, yes, but we couldn't even get past stage three after hours of gameplay, so found it frustrating more than anything.

In addition to the 8-Way-Run - introduced in the first Soul Calibur title - characters can now briskly sidestep around their opponents by double-tapping up or down, allowing them to move around the arenas with a certain amount of freedom, adding an extra layer of depth on top of the dozens of attacking maneuvers that can be executed.

An extensive roll-call boasts over 28 playable characters

An overhaul to the fighting engine introduces new moves like guard impact, brave edge, and critical edge, which gives players a breadth of choice in addition to standard combos, grabs, horizontal and vertical attacks. There's an unprecedented number of moves, many of which require the most intricate and well-timed series of button-presses and accurate analog stick-twiddling.

Fights are fast-paced and exciting, animations are superb and the clash of metal-on-metal from an impressive array of weapons produces an absorbing visual spectacle. The large number of characters, which includes a guest appearance by Assassin's Creed's Ezio Auditore, also ensures there's plenty of variety and the chance to dabble in different styles.

One complaint we do have about the fighting system is the inability to block effectively. This could, of course, be down to our own poor skills as a Soul Calibur fighter, but battles do seem to be heavily weighted toward attacking, with opponents easily able to smash through many of our attempts to block.

Consequently, this means that you really do have to become a master of the attacking moves to stand any chance against the many skilled players that frequent the online lobbies. It's an indication, once again, of Soul Calibur's appeal as a series that expert brawlers or those willing to spend a lot of time learning moves in the excellent tutorial mode will enjoy. Others, however, will find it wholly frustrating.

Ezio from Assassin's Creed make a surprise entrance

To cater for its hardcore fanbase, Namco Bandai has worked wonders with the online infrastructure. The Global Colosseo, a large online lobby where players can chat and challenge each other to duels, is a fun place to hangout, while ranked matches and leaderboards allow players to fight for honour, pride and bragging rights. Getting into a multiplayer battle, too, takes just a matter of seconds, almost the same amount of time it usually takes us to get our ass handed to us on a plate.

Overall, it's Soul Calibur V's multiplayer mode that really takes the limelight in a game that has little offline appeal, other than the tutorial mode for "noobs" and those wanting to hone their skills. It's here that the hardcore fans of the brawler genre will be sucked in by its incredibly in-depth weapon-based combat system and instantly addictive pick-up-and-play appeal. Everyone else should brace themselves for an almighty ass-kicking.

Bottom line: Fun for those who are brilliant at brawlers, painful for those who aren't, Soul Calibur V has an awful campaign but great multiplayer component.

The Good

Impressive character roster, fight styles and weapons
Massive range of visually-impressive moves to master
Strong multiplayer component

The Bad

Dreary offline campaign mode
Why can't we block most attacks?

HEXUS Rating

Soul Calibur V

HEXUS Where2Buy

Soul Calibur V is available to buy from Play.com

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At HEXUS, we invite the companies whose products we test to comment on our articles. If any company representatives for the products reviewed choose to respond, we'll publish their commentary here verbatim.

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If only it was on PC!

Tags: Namco, “PC”
“An extensive roll-call boasts over 28 playable characters”

In the old days we used to call that ‘29’.