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Words Are Wasted in Soul Calibur V

  • Kevin Reitz Contributing Writer
  • 2012 30 Apr
Words Are Wasted in <i>Soul Calibur V</i>

There are three elements I look for when deciding whether I'm going to see a game through or not.

First, I care about mechanics. If the game is too difficult to play or I don't enjoy the actions I'm making, the chances that I'll follow through are pretty slim. Second, I want a compelling story. Depending on the game, a great story can make me overlook control flaws and keep me coming back for more no matter how frustrating I find the game. Finally, how does the game look. This is third because it's least important. Not all games or genres need to look good, but some do. As long as the game's visuals make sense for the era or genre, I'm okay with it.

Taking those three elements into consideration, Soul Calibur V feeds every frustration that I have ever had about fighting games. It requires immense knowledge of how to make your fighter behave, it rewards ‘button mashing' (more on that in bit), it doesn't look particularly great for being a 2012 release, and it lacks a compelling story.

After getting the game from my local Red Box, I launched into Soul Calibur V's story mode and was immediately introduced to a ‘story' that was so convoluted that I would have been better off trying to read to subtitles with my eyes closed, and the characters were so dull that I didn't care if the main character lived or died. From what I could tell, there is a brother and sister that at some point became separated. The brother is searching for the sister and the antagonist might know where she is. There are these things called ‘malfested' that must be fought. What became apparent to me is that it's possible this would all make sense had I played Soul Calibur I-IV and followed the story from the beginning. This is to say, if you care about story and haven't followed the Soul Calibur series, you'll probably want to take a pass here.

Obviously, fighting games have made their mark on the multi-player battles that you can have with somebody on the other set of controls. Fighting games are one of the few genres that my wife will actually try because they lend themselves very well to... you guessed it... button mashing. As such, she wipes the floor with me whenever we sit down to play a fighting game together. Soul Calibur V was no different. I did not try an on-line battles because I knew how they would end and I didn't want to grow even more frustrated by the game.

I found the character creation to be clunky and not very intuitive. However, my wife (immensely creative) spent an hour creating a character and enjoyed the experience. I however don't have the patience to wade through the system to figure out what it takes to make the samurai, that I am in my mind.

Of course, Soul Calibur V is violent, but it's not bloody. Most of the impacts result in an explosion of sparks, flames and colors and while brutal at times, there is no blood or decapitations. It goes without saying that the female characters in Soul Calibur V are scantily clad and clothing flows in ways that reveal certain (but not R rated) parts of the female body. Simply put, for me this is just one more reason I avoid the genre but it's more from a believability standpoint. No woman who is trained in martial arts is going to dress like that for a fight.

Along with the tropes mentioned above, you also have the cheesy one-liners, ridiculous narration ("Even badly wounded, a true hero fights their way to victory!") and broken mechanics (for instance, I beat a computer-controlled character by using nothing but ‘kick', and they never hit me). This game also wreaks of a game that was tacked on to a series that was supposed to end after Soul Calibur IV and it feels incomplete and hardly worth being called an ‘A-List' title.

Frankly, Soul Calibur V is everything I expected it to be from a fighting game perspective. As I have heard great things about the latest Street Fighter, Tekken and other properties, I think most would be better served checking out some other titles. From what I can tell, there is absolutely no reason to buy this game for any more than maybe $20. There are cheaper fighting games out there that will give you as much, if not more enjoyment. In fact, Soul Calibur IV, complete with characters from the Star Wars universe may be well worth the $15 that you can find it for used.

*This Review First Published 4/30/2012