SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny Review
The first portable SoulCalibur is very good, but it lacks both compelling single-player content and online play.
- Accessible but deep combat system forces you to defend as well as attack
- 28 very different characters to play with from the outset
- Ad hoc multiplayer works well
- Superb presentation throughout.
- Not enough good single-player content
- Gauntlet mode story is laughable
- No online play.
When you start playing SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny's single-player Gauntlet mode, a warning pops up on the screen to let you know that its bizarre story is "based on obscure fables and does not accurately represent SoulCalibur history." Fortunately, just about everything else in Broken Destiny feels very much like it belongs in the long-running fighting series. The weapon-based combat is as accessible and as deep as ever, the arenas are ripped right out of SoulCalibur IV, and the two new fighters introduced in this game are definitely a better fit than the Star Wars characters that graced the aforementioned Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game. There's not enough compelling single-player content here to make Broken Destiny a must-have if you're planning on going solo, but add a friend with a second copy of the game to the equation, and good times are guaranteed.
All 28 of the fighters on Broken Destiny's roster are available from the outset. You can also create your own fighters from scratch using limited customization tools to determine their physical appearance and then dress them up in gear chosen from a massive wardrobe, much of which has to be unlocked. There are no performance bonuses associated with clothing and weapons this time around, which is unfortunate if you really enjoyed that aspect of SoulCalibur IV, but great if you want to wear all of the matching pieces of the Santa costume without feeling like your fashion choices are compromising your effectiveness. Regardless of which fighter you choose to play as and what he or she is wearing, Broken Destiny, like previous SoulCalibur offerings, is easy to pick up and grasp the basics of. You can move in eight directions using the D pad or the analog nub, and face buttons are used to guard and to perform basic horizontal attacks, vertical attacks, and kicks. That's really all you need to know to get started, though you'll find that there are plenty of more advanced techniques to master if you check out the character-specific move lists in the useful Training mode.
Oddly, Broken Destiny doesn't feature an Arcade mode in which to pit your chosen combatant against a number of opponents en route to a matchup with a boss. In its place is Trials mode, which incorporates three distinct score-based challenges in Attack, Defense, and Endless flavors. In the Trial of Attack you're pitted against five opponents and earn score bonuses for playing aggressively and for landing combos. The Trial of Defense is a little longer and culminates in a boss battle against Algol from SoulCalibur IV, so in that respect it's a lot like that game's Arcade mode. The main difference here is that you score points and earn bonuses for guarding against your opponent's attacks and retaliating quickly. Endless Trial is a survival mode of sorts, except that your fighter regains all of his health between rounds. Seeing how many of the increasingly tough opponents you can make it past without ever losing is a lot of fun, but your score isn't based on that. Rather, every time you land a blow you earn points, and there's a score multiplier that goes up when you hit your opponent but falls back down when you get hit. The scoring system in the trials means there's some fun to be had replaying them to beat your best performances, but it's unfortunate that there's no way for you to compare your high scores with those of other players online.
Outside of quick one-on-one matches against the AI that you choose from a pseudo online lobby complete with win/loss records for different players, Broken Destiny's only other single-player content is the story-driven Gauntlet mode. Spanning more than 30 chapters each composed of multiple challenges, this mode is really just a lengthy tutorial that trains you to defend against every character in the game. Learning to effectively evade and guard against your opponent's attacks is important, and if you take the time to play through all of the 80-plus Gauntlet challenges, you'll almost certainly emerge a better player than you were when you went into it. You're not necessarily going to have much fun along the way though.