So I sunk in a few hours of Soul Caliber 5, Project Soul’s newest release in the series. After playing so much of last year’s Mortal Kombat and (Ultimate) Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, I thought it’d be a nice change of pace.
I guess it is?
The first thing I notice is the lack of improvement in the graphic department from Soul Caliber 4 to 5. I played the SC4 demo to double check, and I can’t notice any sort of difference. Mechanically, however, stays the same for the better. The standard Horizontal, Vertical, Kick, and Guard layout returns, along with a new Critical Edge. It acts like a super meter from any other fighter, with Brave Edge (EX moves) and Critical Edge (Ultra attack). These moves, on top of the general game play of SC, make it look even more super flashy and fun to watch, while also adding a nice way to turn back the tide of match.
From what I’ve seen, none of the Edges seem particularly over powered, and flow right into the 8-Way game play perfectly. All can be blocked, parried, and dodged by skilled players, but skilled players can also combo into them.
The game’s second big addition is Ezio Auditore, our best buddy from Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series. Unlike previous attempts at guest fighters, Ezio fits perfectly into the style and combat of the other fighters, and does not seem that over powered. He’s there. He exists, and I don’t get upset when my opponent picks him, which is good. SC’s character customization is back, but you cannot use Ezio’s fighting style on a custom character, which is disappointing, but understandable, given the license. ( I also noted that there is a lot of custom character DLC, which might be able to be unlocked though playing the game, but I can’t confirm or deny.)
The game’s training modes give the standard features, CPU set up, a noteworthy list of combos and moves one should know, that are character specific. The game has a standard 6 stage arcade mode, and an extremely awkward Story mode. Most of it is told though hand drawn (ish) pictures that are voiced over, and unlike last year’s Mortal Kombat, I personally had no desire to give any sort of care, and only find myself playing it for achievements. ( I also have barely scratched the Story mode, only 15 “episodes” in, I just honestly have no desire to finish it. )
Online has what you come to expect from a fighter, 6 player lobbies, ranked and player matches, titles and ranks, etc, etc. I have only encounter one laggy match out of 3-4 hours online, so the net code seems pretty solid.
The game does have a larger lobby system called the “Global Colosseo”. It’s a giant lobby of 100 people where you can chat, organize games, and enter game run tournaments. It’s a neat little feature that would people nice for individuals who do not have a local fighting game community, and now have the ability to meet up with people a lil’ bit easier.
I need to acknowledge what the game is missing, ‘cause it’s a lot. SC4’s Tower of Lost Souls mode is absent from SC5, and while I don’t remember playing much of it in SC4, it’s absence is noteworthy. The game is also missing any sort of tag or mulitfighter combat, which shouldn’t make or break a purchase, but is again, noteworthy.
And then there’s this odd fact that, in my opinion, the game play just doesn’t seem all that intense. While it certainly is welcoming to newcomers, I can watch my friends mash away and have fun, but not pick up any skill in the game. It seems like the series hasn’t aged well, and is depending on guest and custom fighters to keep it afloat. It’s fun to watch for a moment, but then I start to just pick apart things that make it really different from SC4, and there just isn’t much. The Ult system is nice, but then I just start to acknowledge the things missing from SC5 that were in 4.
This game will please SC fans, I hope. But Project Soul didn’t seem to do much to innovate the game. Considering this is the 6th game in the series, it might need to take a break for creative reasons.
TLDR: If you like Soul Caliber, you should be okay with this release, as long as you can accept that not much has changed to the formula.