Genre: Fighting Developer: Publisher: Classification: M Release Date: 2nd Feb 2012 Platforms:
Login to submit your review score
After the massive Jedi infusion into SoulCalibur IV, which really shouldn’t have worked (but somehow did) Project Soul brings another iteration of the only weapon-centric beat ‘em up to a genre that has seen its landscape change over the last several years. With many of the Capcom released titles (and other ones that spell combat with a “k” that we never managed to “get over here”) focusing on cinematic action and massively over the top combinations, the franchise has taken a fundamental shift in gameplay and abandoned some of its more recognisable characters in an attempt to revamp the series… and I’m not quite sure if I like it.
One of the staples of any fighting franchise (which Street Fighter does rather well) is to give gamers more of what they want by upping the ante with crazy finishers and jaw-dropping moments. At the same time, you need to cater to the hardcore fan base who have spent years playing with specific characters building up a connection with them, memorising their favourite combinations and sit eagerly waiting for the next chance to take them for a spin, lay the smack down and reclaim bragging rights.
While Project Soul should be commended for trying to inject new blood featuring a roster of many new faces (apparently as progeny of many of the series’ stalwart roster), this risky move has potential to alienate its bread and butter supporters and we all know hell hath no fury like a gamer scorned.
Set years after the events of SoulCalibur IV the plot (and boy oh boy do I use that term loosely) focuses on chest heavy Sophitia’s children, the gob-stoppingly named Patroklos and Pyrrah (for real?). The pair has been separated for some reason and Patroklos is searching the land killing his way through the infected humans or “malfested” to find his long lost sibling.
The story plays out in bite-sized episodes that are confusing, make little sense and are portrayed in the most bland mundane format possible. Honestly, I had a deeper connection with the contents of my Kleenex that last time I blew my nose. Rather than highlight the game's sexy graphics each revelation is introduced by a selection of hand drawn sketches with voice-overs that are so instantly forgettable you’ll be mashing the skip option like there’s no tomorrow.
It’s sterile, jarring, disengaging and it screams of cost cutting. It’s almost like they had the storyboards for each segment and figured, screw it, lets just use these and save on the big budget CG. It stands out like dog’s balls on a wedding cake, particularly when about half way through proceedings several pivotal moments are fully rendered giving you a hint of what could have been achieved throughout the entire journey. It wouldn’t have smoothed over the nonsensical plot, but at least you would have had something pretty to look at as a distraction.
As far as protagonists go Patroklos is rude, abusive, condescending, elitist and obnoxious. He reeks of an over-privileged douchebag with a sense of entitlement who whines like a little ***** at every opportunity. I didn’t even want to see him succeed. After the first episode I was more interested in jumping into versus mode and smacking his face in than following his quest to save his sister. Way to go with the empathy Project Soul.
His sister Pyrrah fares no better. She claims to be merely fighting to stay alive battling against those who call her a monster with absolutely no exposition or explanation as to why she is where she is, or why they’re attacking her. You just keep fighting on with no real connection to either character.
You switch between siblings (and other randoms who join you) with plenty of adversaries bandying about wild statements, alluding to threats not made and other such apparently monumental slights and insults. It’s a discombobulated mess. It just reeks of tacked on. There’s not the barest hint of emotion or any semblance of depth. Look, I’m not looking for an Oscar winning performance, but at least pretend to try. It’s so phoned in it’s staggering.
There’s been a substantial overhaul to the gameplay with options like parry being replaced with a dedicated guard button, which blocks regardless of the height of the attack with impeccable timing at moment of impact earning you a perfect block. Your reward? A split second opening leaving your opponent vulnerable to strikes. You still have the series regular sidestep and use combinations of horizontal, vertical attacks and kicks and throws.
The biggest departure is the replacement of the Soul Gauge and Critical Finishes by a more conventional “super” bar, more in tune with the likes of MVC3 and Street Fighter. Filling this bar allows for Brave Edge attacks - and the trickier Critical Edge attack. Each character’s Critical Edge requires a double quarter circle forward and three attack button press - not the most comfortable manoeuvre to pull off on the fly.
In all game modes there are unbalanced difficultly spikes. Some enemies - in particular Nightmare and Siegfried - will be incredibly tough one fight, warranting multiple replays, and then in others will be absolute pushovers. The AI can rack up ridiculous combos, taking three quarters of your health off in an instant and grabbing plenty of cheap shots while you’re on the ground and it leads you to do the same. You don’t get that sense of smoothness chaining combinations together and at times it can feel clunky and sluggish. Lines are also regurgitated with starling frequency and by then end of a few matches you’ll pretty much want to turn the sound off entirely.
Arcade mode is a return to the SoulCalibur of old as you cut a path through six enemies against the clock, trying to wipe the floor with the lot as quickly as possible. With the focus firmly on precision striking coupled with a sense of urgency this mode is enjoyable to a point, though some of the aforementioned balancing issues do unfortunately rear their ugly head.
Versus and online is where you’ll find SoulCalibur V the least problematic, where AI is taken out of the picture and a moot point. Here the playing field is levelled as you bring your skills to the table against your mates and the world. These were by far the least frustrating modes both on and offline, bringing back with it some of the love I’d nearly forgotten I had for the franchise and this is where die-hard fans will feel the most at home. Sure they may have replaced Taki with Natsu and Kilik with Xiba (and so on), but the new characters play very closely to their predecessors - creating a fine olive branch to series veterans.
The new non-SoulCalibur addition to the roster this time around is the sexiest death-dealer in gaming Ezio Auditore de Firenze imported from Assassin’s Creed and he fits in rather well. Switching between his blade and hidden knife strike to bullets and crossbow bolts for ranged attacks is surprisingly smooth and I predict he will quickly become a multiplayer favourite.
SoulCalibur V closely resembles the Modern Warfare of fighting games with an instantly forgettable story line in its single player campaign paling before a more robust multiplayer and online component. Ignore the story mode and delve deeper into the arcade, character creation and versus modes for the best experience. It’s not even close to the finest incarnation of the series but it looks quite pretty and is still reasonably solid.
1 thing to note....how can you give Modern Ware 3 a 9.5......which everyone knows is just a reskinned MW2.....yet you compare this game to be the modern warfare of fighting games yet onloy give it a 6? You can the story line like you did with MW3, yet praise the multiplayer and everything else......how can you give mw3 such a high rating? Disgusting is what that is.
The storyline is not forgettable. There is a few cutscenes in the storymode, which is seperate from Arcade, and it is really cool how it focuses on Patroklos and his sister who both go thorugh some changes with alternate versions of themselves to use once you do the story. The game is a solid fighter deserves at least an 8 out of 10. If you are not a fan of the series don't bother you will hate it.