Peter Willington
03 Oct, 2011

Soul Calibur V Preview

PS3 Preview | A tale of souls and swords...
What with the needlessly Star Wars injected fourth outing receiving strong critical reception plus decent commercial success, and with fighters in general seeing a resurgence it was rather inevitable Namco would wish to follow up their weapon-centric series at least once more this console generation. What is surprising however, from the time spent with the game at Eurogamer Expo, is just how comparatively restrained number five is shaping up.

As the "tale of souls and swords" has been "eternally retold" each entry has become slightly more over-the-top, whether it's the appearance of Kratos, the rapid increase in pixels making up certain areas of Ivy's character model, or the lengths of customisation the player can go to with created fighters, Soul Calibur had begun to verge on the ludicrous. Yet with Soul Calibur V it would appear that this aspect of the game is being dialled back. Don't be mistaken, this dial is still set to ten – retaining the flashy and fast combat the series is known for – but so far it's not at full-on lightsaber eleven.

Oh, shiny!.

Oh, shiny!.
Set over fifteen years after the events of Soul Calibur IV, the world has moved on and characters have aged suitably, Mitsurugi for example, is now looking weather beaten from his travels, Sophitia Alexandra has had children - Patroklos and Pyrrha – and they now enter the arena as new combatants. For a title that's so unafraid to experiment with time and space, there's now a profound sense of realistic chronology and setting.

Of the two arenas shown, perhaps the most visually exciting was one within the boundaries of a castle under siege, two combatants going toe-to-toe amidst a raging war, where several NPCs in the background are locked in their own struggles. In terms of play mechanics these areas aren't a million miles away from previous games – there are ring outs to capitalise upon for quick victories and walls to trap opponents - but it's encouaraging to know that Soul Calibur V's development team are continuing the tradition of visually impressive backdrops to the action.

The return of many favourites will make fans happy.

The return of many favourites will make fans happy.
Soul Calibur V's engine itself appears to have been refined too, as models are more detailed than ever before; Hildegard's armour glistens and shines in the light, Maxi's nunchuks are highly detailed as they gracefully spin and twirl toward their target. Maxi's smooth flowing fighting style also showcases just how impeccable Namco's animators have become at chaining movements together and there's a definite beauty to behold in the deadly dance of two skilled players duking it out.

The fantastical elements of Soul Calibur's design are still here, with axes and daggers, swords and spears often leaving trails of colour behind them, especially upon the execution of more powerful techniques, though they obfuscate the action less than number four. However now these movements seem to have a lot more weight behind them; successfully landing a string of stabs and slashes has real impact and when a character lands a position sensitive throw, the game's camera frames each stage of the grapple for maximum "ouch" value.

Purple circle beats yellow circle.

Purple circle beats yellow circle.
Bouts are over quickly, a good combo string often removing a quarter of a player's life bar, but so long as you're equally matched, the tide of battle can turn on a dime; a well timed counter or cheeky sidestep opening opponents up to direction-and-button-press punishment. From the character select screen it looks as if over thirty warriors will make the final build, a number which one might describe with the adjective "whopping". New entrants fit the mythos and play perfectly, better fitting the overall tone of the series than a resident of Dagoba ever could, and since many have grown up or grown older, their speed has been altered a little to fit their personas better. What remains rapid are the loads into matches and general setup, each menu clean but clear, the process of getting into games taking seconds.

The convention was only showcasing local multiplayer so it'll be a while before we see how the online fares, likewise the single player content wasn't on show and will be deathly important should the net code be weak. However, with several months ahead of Soul Calibur V's planned release in Q1 of 2012, things are looking very rosy for Namco's now premiere fighting series.
With what's been seen in Soul Calibur V so far, things are looking very rosy for Namco's premiere fighting series.

Related Soul Calibur V Content

Soul Calibur V Review
07 Feb, 2012 The burning soul will never extinguish!
Soul Calibur V debut trailer
12 May, 2011 The big reveal!
SoulCalibur IV Preview
06 Jun, 2008 Back with some force.
2 years ago
To my mind, this is a fighting series in need of a drastic shake-up. I love the gameplay, but it hasn't changed enough over the past decade for me to jump in again.

Soul Calibur 5 looks good, but I'm not sure why I would be interested if I already own Soul Calibur 4.

Time will tell!
2 years ago
^ I feel the same way Michael. Generally speaking, I'm worn out on the series. Although there is nothing wrong with it, it just doesn't have the lasting appeal of others, for example, Street Fighter.

That said, if it lives up to expectations, I may pick it up on a sale.
2 years ago
honestly I think this is a really missed opportunity. When King of Fighters (With Garou: MOTW) and Street Fighter (With SF 3) both did the time skips. They both did it by completly ditching the main cast and re-inventing there cast except for the mainstays. (Terry in MOTW, Ryu and Ken in SF3) And I was kind of hoping they'd do the same for this. Maybe just have Mitsurugi and Nightmare or something and give us an entire cast of new characters other then that.
2 years ago
Welcome to PALGN, Peter! icon_smile.gif
2 years ago
Likewise, echoing words of welcome!
2 years ago
Namco are the recycle kings.

I was disspointed to see that SC5 is basically the same characters but re-skinned. Why did they bother!

HOWEVER, I'll see buy this and enjoy. The music always gets me.
2 years ago
I find it pretty annoying when people cannot distinguish the differences between games. SCV plays very differently to SCIV.

I see nothing written about the new Just Guard, Critical Edge, Brave Edge, Guard Crush and Guard Impact systems. How are we as readers meant to judge this game without even knowing HOW the game is different besides stating the obvious of, 'there are ring outs to capitalise upon for quick victories and walls to trap opponents' or 'models are more detailed than ever before'. Like, really?

I get that it's a preview but at least do some research before writing something that makes you look as though you have no idea what you're talking about. Just my 2 cents.
2 years ago
ZeroX03 wrote
I see nothing written about the new Just Guard, Critical Edge, Brave Edge, Guard Crush and Guard Impact systems.
Is it me or do all those things sound like they were in SCIV as well? (Except maybe Brave Edge)
2 years ago
ZeroX03 wrote
I get that it's a preview but at least do some research before writing something that makes you look as though you have no idea what you're talking about. Just my 2 cents.
That "preview" was just a round about way of what Zero said, I got more from Zero's impressions ... icon_dumb.gif

2 years ago
Amen. Let us celebrate this moment with the burning of our souls.
2 years ago
ya know I get wear you guys are comming from and all. But you have to take into account that an article like this isn't specifically aimed at us. This isn't Shoryuken or Eventhubs. It's a general gaming site. And so an article has to be interesting to the general gaming public.

It's more a "Hey here's what this game is showing" for the guys and gals who spend there time on FPS games or playing the immense 50hr JRPGs.
2 years ago

It's pretty much the approach that us writers have to take.
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