As part of my indoctrination in the world of Destructoid (and blogging on different sites) I have the unfortunate duty to report that this year, although they're have been many greats games come out at the moment, some have been greater than others. The truth about Soul Calibur 5 is that I actually really like it, and the many things that it offers does keep a fan of the series, like myself, coming back for more. The character creation mode is probably the best I've seen in it's many editions and probably might be the best option out of all the fighting games I've played recently. But that being said, Soul Calibur 5 is like a ship that set sail and got lost along the way plenty of times and when it arrived to the port, we almost didn't recognize it and frankly, we almost wished she stayed at sea. What we got was a very pretty game, and gameplay that is as tight as ever. Some of that decisions done in the overall fighting mechanics were bold and risky, but they add an element of strategy that turns this game into a tournament worthy game. But some decisions were made in the overall process and I got a game that seemed to be missing a ton of information, explanation and overall, more to do in it. This is Soul Calibur 5...I pray for a better journey next time.
#1: The Story: Where's the rest of it?
Soul Calibur's story has always been a mess to me to understand, but every new game offers what happened at the end of the previous version. This gives us an idea of what was at stake that last time as well as what we look forward in this new title. This is where Soul Calibur 5 drops the ball and sadly never picks it up, just looks at it, with fascination... PICK THE DAMN BALL UP!!!!!
Sorry, that ball was frustrating me. Namco said from the very beginning that the game was going to be a change in the overall story, sort of, like a re-imagining or a brand new game altogether. The story takes place 17 years after the events of SC4 and that to me got me very excited. Then, I saw the game and started playing the story mode and, I think this is where SC5's maiden voyage first started getting lost. For starters, we don't get an epilogue or any sort of recap or even an update of what happened between SC4 and SC5. Yes we see Siegfried defeat Nightmare in an epic duel and then...nothing. We don't know anything about what happened to the characters that came back, and we certainly don't know anything about the characters that didn't make it back. It wouldn't be a problem if the characters were new in the last game, but these characters have been in these games FROM THE BEGINNING; I had to say they got really freaking lost. What happened to Sophitia, Taki, Talim, Rock, Kilik and Xianghua? What about Zasalamel, remember him? He was the main villain in the 3rd game and returned in the 4th game. Shouldn't he need a recap? This part should have been vital to getting us pumped to a new story, but instead, we just get thrown into this new universe and we are expected to accept that they're gone and we might never see them again. It feels more like a reboot more than anything, but then why call it Soul Calibur 5? But wait, this is just the 1st misstep for the SS Soul Calibur 5.
Then with no recap, we are introduced to Patroklos, Sophitia's son and he is, an asshole. Yeah I know he is killing people infected with Soul Edge's influence, but he doesn't know for sure if they were. He starts killing people like nothing. Then we learn he works for a Count Dumas, some douche we know nothing about and then well, that's that. No backstory or nothing on him and how Patroklos became this raging lunatic sociopath or how he got acquainted with Count Dumas. But then we are introduced to more characters as the story goes on and we meet our new characters; Z.W.E.I, which they seem to call him Svy for some reason; and Viola, who is friends with Z.W.E.I. and we get absolutely nothing from her either. They are teamed up with Siegfried and they want his help, but wait...WHO THE HELL IS Z.W.E.I. AND VIOLA? We aren't told anything about them at all, in fact, we aren't told anything about anyone of the new characters AT ALL. So the SC5 team created this game, told half the important cast to go away, and then brought these new faces and didn't say anything. Like we are suppose to accept they are here and forget about Taki and Sophitia, series staples? Nevermind, where was I?
Then after a few "go to hell" moments from Patroklos we move on to Pyrrha, Sophitia's daughter and Patroklos' main objective on his quest. She is being pursued by guards as she seems to be one of the malfested that Patroklos was talking about earlier. She is also important to the story, but again, we aren't told why. But as it turns out she is malfested but Tira is influencing her to become evil and more deranged and well, malfested. But we don't know why! Why is Pyrrha filled with evil energy? We are told during the story of SC4 something about how Sophitia had a piece of SoulEdge in her while she was pregnant with Pyrrha, but at least if we were told in this game, it could cure the curiosity without going to a website to see her backstory.
But it's all over the place, really. We're not told anything about who are the new characters, about the replacements for Kilik and the others (Xiba, Natsu and Leixia) and we aren't given a clear story as to what is happening now. To me, the backstory should have been important and more of the story mode should have been added. And the idea of showing the story with artwork instead of cut scenes (in a mode WITH CUT SCENES) is inexcusable. The story isn't the most important thing in a fighting game, but since this was their main focus for this new game, they botched in too many ways. I wish this was it for this game, but this trip isn't a vacation, it's a voyage.
#2- The character selection screen is the saddest I've ever seen it.
The SS SC5 is off to a rough start, but it's about to get hit with a thunderstorm. The characters that are available this time around to me are rather alien. Favorites like Siegfried, Ivy, Voldo and Maxi have been left almost untouched. The new characters are rather interesting but seem odd at the same time. They feel like Teen Titans almost, younger versions of the characters from the past. Leixia is suppose to be Xianghua and Kilik's daughter, but she doesn't seem to have an important role in this game. Natsu is Taki's protege, but she is almost like Taki in every way, except that she is blond and acts like a cheerleader but that's fine. Xiba is Kilik's replacement, but he acts more like Yunsung. Is he the offspring of Yunsung and someone else trained by Kilik? I wish I knew because we aren't told anything about these guys at all, and what's worse is that the Arcade Mode doesn't give us any added information about them at all. I actually like using them, and Ezio is a rad edition, but we aren't told why they were replaced, so it's hard to accept them as replacements.
However, now the ship is being sucked into a vortex unlike never seen before. The unlockables in this game are pathetic! I can't even begin to describe how lazy and dumb these additions are. The breakdown so simple, it's sad; 3 characters are the same, and 2 others are 2 of the main cast, just with different moves. Allow that to go into your subconsciousness. Patroklos and Pyrrha are both in this game, TWICE. Alpha Patroklos controls almost like Setsuka (which is missing for no reason) and Pyrrha Omega is basically Sophitia (who is also missing, again). That seems a bit odd, because they could have incorporated them like a different moveset within the same characters, like Tira and her Jolly\Mad stances. And that's not even the worse travesty committed. Remember EdgeMaster? The old sage type dude that could use every character's weapons like Inferno and Olcadan from the other games? Well as it turns out, EdgeMaster is not alone in this game as two, TWO, characters are also along for the ride. The first one just made me angry...Kilik. That's right, one of my favorite characters of the entire Soul Calibur universe, is back. I mentioned earlier that he wasn't because this abomination is not Kilik. Instead he is like this masked figure that has the same abilities as EdgeMaster; in other words, he plays like EVERYONE! This adds to the first problem of not knowing anything but this begs for an explanation. And having Xiba here adds more to the doubt, like why is he the holder of the Kali Yuga and not Kilik. Why is Kilik like EdgeMaster? Why is he acting like Edward from Twilight? And why the hell isn't he fighting like he used to? This begs an explanation, but unfortunately, we have yet ANOTHER EdgeMaster clone to mention.
This one is by far the most confusing one of the bunch and in the story mode has an important role. Elysium is the physical representation of Soul Calibur, and it looks like Sophitia, and she uses all of the fighting styles with Soul Calibur shaping into them. This is probably explained because since Soul Calibur can take the form of the weapon the user is good at, it can explain why she can use all the characters' abilities. However, this means that there are THREE EDGEMASTERS!!! I think this is where the voyage's captain decided to commit suicide after realizing he doomed his crew. I have a problem with this because it adds nothing to the game and it makes EdgeMaster unimportant. His name means nothing if 2 other people in the same universe can do the same thing! And Elysium's reason for doing the things in the story and her appearance adds even less. It makes no sense!
The characters that are available are not a problem, with Algol and Dampierre (if you bought him) add more to the table, but it's sad that the team at Project Soul took these shortcuts just to get the game out. The previous game had more characters to offer and this game has about a half of staff present. None of the modes give us any insight of the characters and that makes us not care about them. It makes us wish for the old cast to come back and save us from this storm.
[b] #3 Pirates have taken my game modes [b]
The final nail on the coffin in this disappointing boat trip is the lack of modes that this game offers. This game offers very little to do and it's sad because the other games had modes that added to the longevity and the challenge. The Arcade Mode doesn't offer an ending to any of the characters and the other modes are just for unlocking titles to add to your character card. But the problem with the single player modes is that is lacking a mode that stands out, like Weapon Master Mode in SC2 or Chronicles of the Sword in SC3. Instead is just more modes to fight CPUs and you don't really get much out of them either. Plus for some reason the CPU is now cheap as hell, it's an observation I noticed when every opponent would just crouch and start hitting you with low attacks. At this point it's more of a personal gripe really, but the reality is that without more modes to keep us interested in the Single Player experience, it's gotta be the multiplayer that is going to have to hold us over.
And the SS SC5 finally arrives to port.
Even with everything I've said above I still think Soul Calibur 5 is a good game. I was disappointed with the decisions that they made for the single player modes and I think that more time would have done good. I noticed the ride was going to be rocky when I noticed that none of the returning cast aged a day when in reality they should all be 17 years older. So something told me in the back of my head before I set sail with the rest of the crew that something was going to happen. And it did...we got lost in the story, got sucked in a vortex of plot holes and then got raided by pirates cause we seem to be missing a few modes in this game. But we didn't crash and burn and the SS Soul Calibur 5 made it banged up but not destroyed. The online is solid and I find the decisions of the Guard Impact and the addition of the Brave and Critical Edge moves are a good change for the series. But I'm disappointed that they didn't put more effort in the new story; we are given new characters to control, aren't told why things are happening and expect to be happy for them when they succeed, when we don't even know anything about them. More importantly, because the story isn't important cause nothing is explained, the 17 year push to the future was totally pointless. Why make the story take place in the future when we know nothing of what happened in the past and we aren't given any explanation about the current events?
The ship survived the voyage, but just barely. SS Soul Calibur 6 better plan the trip better, get a weather report and watch out for pirates for the next trip.
This was Fico, and this was my Gaming Mind. AAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!