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Soul Calibur 5 review

Tuesday 31 January

Soul Calibur 5 for PS3 and Xbox 360 feels like an old friend we love to welcome with open arms. Back after a long four years, but never forgotten, the Soul Calibur series is just as fun, frantic and exciting as it has ever been. New characters, new moves and better free-flowing combat make Soul Calibur 5 worth the wait for fans, says Stephen Ebert

Soul Calibur 5 review

The Soul Calibur games have been around for 13 years. In that time the series has collected millions of fans. Four of those years have been spent waiting for Soul Calibur 5. The good news is that all the free-flowing action that Soul Calibur has been famous for remains, and that despite a few minor, and some major tweaks, Soul Calibur 5 may well be the best in the series.

The good

Soul Calibur fans can welcome a number of new faces replacing some old ones. Z.W.E.I is almost literally a beast of a fighter, able to call upon mystical werewolf powers to chain combos. His moves look tricky, thankfully he’s easy to get to grips with. Viola is another that uses magic, this time in the form of a projectile crystal ball to keep her enemies at a distance.

Xiba replaces the departed Kilik. He too has a staff that can be used to ward off enemies and if you’re lucky, knock opponents out of the ring for an easy win. The new characters are headlined by guest fighter Ezio Auditore from Assassin’s Creed. His combination of lethal close-quarter combat and projectiles could see him become a firm favourite, and is a perfect fit for the series. A number of the old guard remain: Voldo, Cervantes, Ivy, Yoshimitsu, Maxi and Nightmare, and others still remain in an impressive character roster, and a handful more, unlockable as you progress through the game.

One of the biggest changes is the introduction of new Critical Edge combos that have something more familiar with the Street Fighter series than we’ve yet to see in a Soul Calibur game. Only once a gauge is filled can these moves be activated at will, taking up to a third of the opponents energy bar, and giving them little chance to protect themselves – making fights more dramatic, giving more players the chance to even things up during contests. It sets the scene for the combat that remains as free-flowing as ever. If anything, Soul Calibur is quicker than ever, with approachable, yet taxing to master combat as deep as the player wishes it to be. From novice to expert players – there is plenty to keep the fight fan satisfied, including online play giving players the chance to challenge those across the globe by region. Online play, from our experience is smooth, with very few signs of lag.

The bad

A dragging story mode is the only real blot on an otherwise excellent fighting game. The story mode sees players take on the role of a fighter names Patroklos, out to rescue his sister, and take on the sources of evil surrounding the Soul Calibur sword. The story is actually well told, but it lacks in enough variety to make it entertaining or worth going back to.

The bottom line

Soul Calibur 5 marks a welcome return for one of gamings best fighting series, and one we’re glad to have back. Publisher Namco Bandai rings in the changes, while staying true to what made the series the brilliant fighter it is. For fans, it’s a must.

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