This was one game that I was looking forward to since I first heard about it. I loved SoulCalibur IV and was hoping to see more of the things I loved in that game but you know, updated for this current generation. And yes the graphics may be up to snuff for a current generation game but the two story modes fail and the character creation mode suffer from the same flaws that made me dislike it in SoulCalibur V.
Let me discuss Libra of Souls, I get that, because the character you use is one you create, you aren't going to get full fledged cinematic cut scenes; it's going to be more text based. I'm sort of okay with it. What I'm not okay is not seeing that in the Chronicle of Souls story mode where you are using the characters in the game. Maybe it's an "artistic" choice by the developer but based on what other developers of fighting games are doing these days with their campaign modes, it's a let down not to have these scenes. And the dialogue hasn't translated, at least from a cultural perspective, well from Japanese. I can almost see where they're going with the story but most of these between fight dialogues just end up tedious, boring, and incoherent. Overall the narrative is terrible with characters out of the story without explanation and then suddenly reappearing; maybe the side quests provide more detail but really that shouldn't be necessary. In general the story lacks a certain coherence that if this were a movie, critics would slam. Six years ago you might have gotten away with this sort of thing but with the way other fighting games are, the developers needed to do better; especially for this amount of money.
Now the character creation is a sore point for me. I loved it in SC IV, I loved the idea and concept of it. For a game in 2008 it was good and it showed potential for being a good mode. Unfortunately, fast forward 10 years and what you've got in the current game is essentially what we had back then. You're pretty much limited to reskining the current roster of fighters with different bodies and clothing. There are no unique weapons or move sets exclusive to the characters you create. This is where the mode fails because, personally, I want to create somebody that isn't just a clone of a character from the roster. It's the same issue I have with SC V. Plus I'm pretty sure I recognize a lot of items that were available 10 years ago; not necessarily a bad thing but I would have loved to see a lot more new items. And when it comes to selecting a different item, you actually have to confirm that you want it to actually see it on your character. Virtually every other game of the current generation with this sort of feature allows you preview the item before confirming that you want it; here you can't.
Combat in my opinion, after having played more since I wrote this review last night, is abysmal. Removing the usual crouch/jump mechanic in lieu of an eight way movement system, may seem more realistic but, given the overall concept of the game, is ridiculous. Actually I take that back about there not be a crouch button, you just have to put yourself into a guard, then hit down before you can attack; idiotically awkward for what's been a staple of most fighting games. I agree, crouching and jumping in a real fight the way most fighting games portray it is idiotic but if you're going to try and pull off something innovative for the genre like that, at least make it mean something. At least make combining a directional button with an attack do something worthwhile. And while I can appreciate using the shoulder buttons to pair some of the face buttons' actions, useful for button mashers like myself or novices or those with issues with fine motor control, the attacks using the R1 and R2 end up just being flashy, almost too time consuming bits of flair that detract more than they add. I like having that option of those attacks but more often than not it's just too easy to devolve into just hitting those two buttons for a good chunk of the game.
Personally the game is bad. Things like in game cinematics, which in the current generation should be standard for a fighting game with any sort of campaign, aren't there. The dialogue wasn't well translated. The story is incoherent. And the character creation mode, which could have been good, hasn't been substantially upgraded in 10 years. Combat, while attempting to be innovative (I hope that's what they were going for), is too flashy and lacking elements that define fighting games for the last twenty-five plus years.