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Review

SoulCalibur V Review

  • Game release: January 31, 2012
  • Reviewed: January 31, 2012
  • PS3

Several new faces and game mechanics make SoulCalibur V the most robust chapter in this 3D weapon-based fighting series.

by

SoulCalibur V is the most complex entry in the series to date. By incorporating some 2D fighting mechanics into its 3D weapon-based system, the game forces you to manage more variables than ever before. In short, this is not a return to the simple times of SoulCalibur II. What SoulCalibur V lacks in accessibility it more than makes up for with its unprecedented depth, fostering a well-crafted, offensive-focused experience that never wants for excitement.

At the center of SoulCalibur V's new design is the critical gauge. This meter can hold two bars of energy used to perform new types of offensive and defensive maneuvers. Critical edge and brave edge attacks are its offensive uses. The flashy, cinematic critical edge attacks cost a full bar of meter and deal substantial damage. Each character has one, and every critical edge has the same input command. Critical edge attacks come out quickly and are great for catching aggressive opponents off guard, especially when you're rising from a knockdown.

Brave edge attacks are improved versions of a character's normal attacks and use one-quarter of the critical gauge. Hilde, for example, has an attack that knocks her opponent into the air and over her head. The brave edge version starts the same way but automatically impales the opponent in midair for extra damage. This combo isn't possible otherwise, hence the meter cost. Both critical and brave edge attacks open up new combo possibilities for the entire cast and help make old characters feel new without altering their fundamental gameplay.

Defensively, the critical meter is used for guard impacting, otherwise known as parrying. That's right: unlike in previous SoulCalibur games, parrying is no longer free. Instead, it costs one-quarter of the gauge--the same as a brave edge attack--and still requires precise timing.

However, there are other ways to parry that don't use the critical gauge. The first is "just guard." This is done by tapping the guard button the instant before being struck. It requires even more precise timing than a standard parry, but if you're successful it will have a similar effect. Certain attacks also incorporate a parry into the attack itself. These attacks are generally slow-moving, highly telegraphed blows that will leave you wide open should you miss.

He may prefer the shadows, but Ezio doesn't mind a straight fight.

Guard breaking also discourages defensive-heavy play. Block too many attacks in a match, and your character will automatically drop his or her guard for a few seconds. You can tell you're at risk when the health gauge begins to flash. All of these changes create more intense matches by restricting defensive options and promoting aggressive play. However, the game also keeps itself in check through the limitations of the critical gauge. Since the gauge can hold only four quarters total, and refills slowly as you fight, you can't abuse the new techniques. It's a finely tuned balance that fits naturally atop the existing system.

With all these new additions, there is a lot of information to internalize in SoulCalibur V. What this game desperately needs is a cohesive tutorial to guide you through these changes. Instead, the only tutorial is a screen of text displayed at the opening of story and training modes. That's it. This sink-or-swim mentality is conducive only to a minority of players and is a disservice to newcomers and returning fans.

The game's starting point, the story mode, introduces you to Patroklos and Pyrrha, the children of series veteran Sophitia. The siblings embark on a journey across Europe that leads to the legendary soul swords. Eventually, the two are put at odds, but by that point the narrative has stumbled over so much terrible writing and illogical reasoning that it's difficult to care. This mode also fails to provide any of the interesting battle conditions seen in SoulCalibur II's campaign or SoulCalibur IV's challenge tower. And while the game has two other versus AI modes, the lack of variety across all three severely diminishes the game's offline attraction.

SoulCalibur V takes place several years after the previous game and borrows a page from Street Fighter III: Third Strike. It introduces several new characters with the slightly modified movesets of older characters. There are a few originals as well, such as Z.W.E.I. and Viola. Z.W.E.I. is a short-range fighter who can summon a familiar to help extend combos and attack from a distance. Viola is an indirect fighter who uses a crystal ball. The ball can be deployed on the battlefield and recalled to strike opponents from behind.

Ezio Auditore, of Assassin's Creed fame, is this game's guest character. In addition to being an appropriate thematic fit, Ezio is well-balanced, capable of holding his own but not overpowered like some guest characters of the past. Sadly, a lot of good characters were left by the wayside, including Talim, Yun-seong, and Zasalamel.

Online play is smooth in SoulCalibur V; you shouldn't notice any performance issues when squaring off against players with four- and five-bar connection ratings. The standard offerings of ranked and player matches are available, and the game saves your eight most recent online matches. You can also check out other players' online profiles and download any replay data they've made available. Together, these are great ways for studying combat technique. Player matches support spectator mode when you're not playing, and you can even chat with other viewers.

It takes two to tango.

A fan favorite, character creation, is back in SoulCalibur V and is more robust than ever. Not only does it offer all the features you would expect from previous iterations, but now you can apply patterns to your characters' garments, add tattoos, or attach special items. There is also a unique unarmed fighting style that can be accessed only within character creation that's a nod to another Namco fighting franchise. In addition, characters no longer have stats that are tied to pieces of clothing, so you're free to dress up your fighters however you'd like.

Fans looking to relive the experience of SoulCalibur's early entries may be irked by this game's new additions. But once the steep learning curve is surmounted, you will find a fresh-yet-familiar fighting system that's fun to explore.

Editor's note: This review originally stated you could not access replays from other players, which is incorrect. The review has been amended accordingly. GameSpot regrets the error.

The Good
Beautifully detailed visuals
New fighting mechanics add depth
Stable online play with replay support
Z.W.E.I. and Viola have interesting new fighting styles.
The Bad
Offline modes lack variety
Some classic character styles are absent
Game lacks basic teaching tools.
7.5
Good
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Discussion

61 comments
g-videogamer
g-videogamer

SoulCalibur V, es un buen videojuego de pelea. 

PiscesAnimeGirl
PiscesAnimeGirl

The only thing I hate about this game is how Namco screwed up the character relationships -_- seriously? If you're gonna do a major time-skip, do it right

sm00thpapa
sm00thpapa

I'm staying with SC 4 until SC 6 comes out. This one is not worth a purchase. 

Zeketra
Zeketra

It has a poor single player but its create a character and online are great! You should probably avoid it if you don't plan to play online.

saint311
saint311

I've played all of the SC's except for SC3 and never played this until today (yes, March 2013) when I bought it.  I wish I had done more research.  I actually don't mind the changes to combat TOO much.  It still feels like SC to me. 

But what really bugs me is what Chii69 pointed out - "2-no character specific endings 3-no art gallery 4-no character, stage or weapon profiles 5-no weapon exhibition mode".  I feel that these peripheral features really take out the replayability and sentiment to the game.  It's like, the only reason to play is for online?  Weak.

Demonjoe93
Demonjoe93

I have been playing these games for over ten years, and I thought this one sucked. The fighting is just bad now. Soul moves are over the top and they're just plain cheap.

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

This is the first SoulCaliber I've ever played, and I liked it. A strong 8 from me. Only major downside was the AWFUL story mode..

QtrArt
QtrArt

The Story Was Easy..But Good Ending :)

kkxtrouble
kkxtrouble

I disagree with many of you when comparing this to the 4th. I don't really care about single player, I play these games to play online and comparing to the 4th the combat is more tight and works better, there are no cheap characters like there was in the 4th instalment. I understand that many of you are pissed off because of the huge lack in the single player, but truth is, after you get too good the single player has no use.

Zerorage23
Zerorage23

i haven't played this yet and i won't be playing it anytime soon.i miss chronicles of the sword and the story mode from three.i loved those and when i went to play 4, i found it to be little more than an arcade type game.this sounds like the same deal.i liked the amount of detail in just about everything in 3. like in the fight with abyss, there was so much detail in the background that i got distracted by an awesome meteor effect and lost horribly the first time i got there. Well, i'll just stick with playing 3 till a suitable successor comes out.

YamaBushi13
YamaBushi13

The game is soooooo disappointing (so far). Is it me or did they neglect to put each characters 'own story endings' in the game? They made the story mode about these 2 clowns, I mean WTF? Talk about 'derailing' a good thing :0(

djyogi
djyogi

the truth is.. if you play this game at home as a stand alone, you don't have an opinion. you want an adventure play an adventure, you want to fight play fighting games. being an Ivy die-hard i was a little disappointed at first, but then i saw how all characters were balanced out and it changed my mind. the return of new and different fighting styles ( like in 3) are back! besides sc4 was so bad i was ready to give up on the series all together. hopefully now we'll see this game at EVO tournyes. If that terrible piece of garbage mvc3 can make it in there this will for sure ( and probably get more respect).

AnimeNutJill
AnimeNutJill

People who think this is the best SC in the series obviously have not played all the games. I have played every SC game to date & SC5 was a waste of my time & money. SC2 is still the standing champion of the series by far, and SC4 comes in second to that one.

istuffedsunny
istuffedsunny

The fact that such an empty shell of a game got a 7.5 is proof that all you need is shiny graphics and pretty girls to get good ratings. At $30, this SC4 add-on would be a decent buy, but not at $60.

avagaga
avagaga

SOUL CALIBUR 5 is way better than 4,it has quick battle which reminds me tekken's 5 arcade!

YamaBushi13
YamaBushi13

I miss... ...Chronicles of the Sword! WTF happened to that? Replaced with a crap tower going up and coming back down, when I could be taking fortresses and conquering lands, using 'strategy' to win. All in a Beat 'em Up... now that was a good part missing from Soul Calibur!!!

amillionhp
amillionhp

The fact of the matter is that SC 5 is by and far the best SC Namco has ever released. Anyone complaining about galleries, story mode, weapon exhibitions and other single player modes need to come to reality. All of those types of things come at a very distant second in terms of priorities for fighting games and are better provided by completely different genres anyway. Fighting games need depth and a fun, balanced system that keeps people playing and they delivered on that respect. There is amazing online netcode with minimal lag, a freakin match recorder which should be invaluable for anyone trying to increase their skill and a character creation mode vastly better than the previous games. Those are the kinds of things that will encourage people to keep playing over and over. No one is going to keep playing for the story mode or other single player crap. How the hell would a fighting game compete with Skyrim for things like that anyway? Pointless to try. Right now, youtube is a major contributer towards a fighting games' continued life and views and traffic on that depends on if enough high, level players continue to post up tournament footage and keep the game relevant. When it comes to fighting games in general, a shift is occuring where the elite are becoming the majority and the casuals are becoming the minority. Capcom started this trend and Namco was smart to follow suit with their priorities and general focus.

Chii69
Chii69

@ vengefulwilberg my points exactly. thank you \m/

vengefulwilberg
vengefulwilberg

@Chii69 Dang. And I thought I was the only one who that Soul Calibur lost its soul. To tell the truth I don't like how they added EX and Supers to this game. Soul Calibur doesn't need to be like Street Fighter 4 to be good. I even think alot of the moves were taken out because of these stupid EX and Supers.

Promised_Trini
Promised_Trini

What I really wanted in this game was Character endings!.Why Namco did this is beyond me.I mean the new MK has a full story but also the Characters have endings when you play arcade mode.I actually wanna know why Cervantes is back to being Human and so on.

fredyellowone
fredyellowone

I did not try SC 5. I will eventually. But i'm totally pissed off they did not implemented a conquest mode like in SC2. that feature was the most popular mode in a fighting game ever and worst, you could only try in on an arcade version of the game.

Chii69
Chii69

i agree with coltACP. I'm a huge fan of the series & i have played every SC game to date.this is the WEAKEST SC yet. 1-laughable story mode 2-no character specific endings 3-no art gallery 4-no character, stage or weapon profiles 5-no weapon exhibition mode 6-a TON of removed moves & stances from different characters "e.g.: Nighmare, Raphael & Ivy " 7-absent key character play styles "Zasalamel, Yun-seong, Rock", instead they gave us devil jin, seriously! 8-no BOSS character 9-that ATROCIOUS announcer 10- no team battle mode then you have the little things like being able to change your weapon before a fight, an intro that introduces all the characters, hell even phrases that are a trademark to the series like "severely wounded, but the soul still burns!" are missing. to me all these things defined SC & helped to set it apart from other fighting games. just compare it to SC3 "the best in the series IMHO" & you'll know what i mean.. there was so much attention to detail that really blew my mind "it had the games title spoken by the last character you played". it even had a game within the game "chronicles of the sword". seriously why leave all those features out? why try and fix what wasn't broken in the first place?. the game looks amazing & the music is OK "not the best in the series" but that doesn't change the fact that the team got lazy with this entry. It hurts to see such a great series lose its spark & i hope Project Soul fixes these issues with SC6.

jubdeidamasta
jubdeidamasta

@coltACP I was wondering about this game. You're review seems decent enough and like you have experience with fighting games and previous titles.

Lance-Marvelous
Lance-Marvelous

Zasalamel! where the hell is that guy in the Game ?????/

kcluffy
kcluffy

LOL...looks like ezio did not do well on helping out this game, I wish they add FF character instead...like square? cloud? or lightning? that will be fun

shadow580
shadow580

@coltACP you'll probably see those extra modes in the next DLC sadly.

coltACP
coltACP

worst soul calibur game yet an i didn't rate 3 or 4 at all.The graphics in one of the stages is utterly broken(battlefield, terrain mishmashes everywhere).the fighting isn't as flowing as the first 2 games (akin to 3 an 4) and the story is hopeless, the other modes aren't there, what the hell happened to team battle mode? why didn't they do more interactivity with environments?(imo the only way soul could impriove was by making the stage a proper battlefield).Some people need to be Fired for letting this game get released in the state it's in.crap

Lance-Marvelous
Lance-Marvelous

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

warmaster670
warmaster670

@siarhei lol, what you think that MK was special for having that? not like street fighter 4 did it before MK or anything...

siarhei
siarhei

A meter which is spent on powerful attacks? cough Mortal Kombat cough

VilandasUK
VilandasUK

People don't get so emotional, it's only GameSpot's opinion how good the game is, buy the game, play it and than make up your own mind about it.

DaNubianPryns
DaNubianPryns

Mitsurugi has been neutered almost completely. He was a badass in SC4. Not so much in this one. Pity.

DaNubianPryns
DaNubianPryns

Story mode was lackluster. I like that they incorporated Setsuka again, though. Still difficult to get her moveset down. A LOT of the other moves have changed or been omitted altogether. Overall, I think Namco made it a little too easy this time around. I'll give it time. Took me a while to get used to SC4, so we shall see how this game fairs.

Ondoval
Ondoval

The game is more like a expensive expansion of SC IV: same unimpressive graphical engine, less characters than SC III or SC IV, less game modes, lack of background, lack of FMV cinematics. Soul Calibur, SC II and SC III were at the time shoulder on shoulder with the best fighting games at their era, but in this generation the franchise fell to the minimun and is now a shadow from the Namco's main franchise: Tekken.

leeko_link
leeko_link

@ ColdfireTrilogy I agree, Talim was one of my favorite since SC2, so disappointed that she's not in this. Hopefully DLC for this game exist.

Tikeio
Tikeio

F**k GS and their BS reviews. This games deserves no less than a 8/10.

d_parker
d_parker

Just finished the story mode. Found it's pretty bad. Horrible story, most of the cut scenes were crap still pictures and there was no real fight variety. I had more fun with the story mode in Soul Calibur II on the Gamecube. Pity.

soulless4now
soulless4now

I'll get this when it's $10. I'm not sure if I could take the disappointment after playing some the awesomeness that is SCIV earlier this month.

Darkflare_EX
Darkflare_EX

@Delroc Kilik is in this game but... He decided to follow the path of his master and fight by randomly borrowing someone else's moveset.

singhellotaku
singhellotaku

7.5 seems a bit low for a game you had very little complaints about

burningthoughts
burningthoughts

@saint311 You'll probably like SC3 then, it has tons of game modes, features and content. Also, the character creation has more depth and a mini rpg like mode where you can level up, unlock tons of content and where only created characters appear.

SoulCalibur V More Info

First Release on Jan 31, 2012
  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
SoulCalibur V, the fifth installment in the fighting franchise, is heading to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
7.5
Average User RatingOut of 683 User Ratings
Please Sign In to rate SoulCalibur V
Developed by:
Project Soul
Published by:
Namco Bandai Games, Bandai Namco Games, Namco Bandai Games America
Genres:
3D, Action, Fighting
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Teen
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