The Soul Calibur series has become quite…reliable, to say the least. Though each entry in the franchise made sure to add subtle changes to the mix — a guest character here, a new fighting mode there — the series has never strayed too far from its winning formula. While each installment in the franchise has been built on great quality, eventually anything becomes tiresome if used too often. Even water becomes stagnant if left out for too long, and while Soul Calibur V will definitely quench your thirst for a new entry in the franchise and probably leaves the best taste in your mouth, the series is certainly losing its appetizing flavor.
The good news is that Soul Calibur V is certainly using its best qualities to its advantage. Whether you pop in the disc and head for the Story Mode or feel like jumping straight into a fight, online or otherwise, you will notice that the controls are as smooth as ever. Combat flows well and hasn’t changed much. Some of the movesets have been tweaked ever so slightly, and the new Edge attacks add a certain extra flair to combat, but if you’ve the played previous games it won’t take you more than a couple of seconds to get the hang of things. If you’ve never played Soul Calibur before, the same will be true. Getting a handle on the gameplay is easy for button mashers just starting out, or those who wish to master the mechanics.
Along with the controls and combat, the scenery and character models are as appealing as ever. The varied battlefields make each match unique in appearance, and the look of each character and fluidity of their moves makes watching Soul Calibur V almost as fun as playing. The stat and point tracking systems are also great additions as they make you feel like you are gaining quite a bit of progress as you play and unlock new items for the character creation and new titles for your online profile. This gives you plenty reason to replay Arcade mode and continue to look for fights online.
Since the character models look so nice, it helps that the roster of playable characters is as big as ever. Most of the old favorites have returned, and those who haven’t are replaced by their offspring and/or apprentice with much of the same moveset. Some are a bit difficult to get the hang off, such as new characters Z.W.E.I., Patroklos, and Pyrrha, whose close range, mid-level powered fighting styles make them a bit clumsy to use. Others, such as Kilik and Nightmare, are still a complete crap-fest to fight against, having ridiculous range and the ability to pummel you nonstop even on the ground; they’re fun to play as, but for the same reasons they suck to fight against. However, most everyone else is easy to get the hang of and just as fun to use. Learning to utilize each character’s strengths and use them to your advantage takes some time, but the more you play, the more you feel yourself catching on.
After the solid fighting mechanics and visuals run their course, Soul Calibur V starts to seem a bit bare as far as content goes. Though you have a variety of play modes to choose from, none of them feels like they are truly offering you what a full fighting game should, especially the Arcade and Story modes. The Story mode itself is interesting at best. Not only is it is very weak at spinning its yarn, it does little to excite you into continuing, and the characters you must play as, Patroklos and Pyrrha aren’t the most fun to handle, with their short reach and clumsy fighting styles.