First of all, before I begin, I’d like to apologize to my fellow Dragon Fisters, as well as anyone who has been following us. It’s been almost 3 months since I’ve made a post due to a lot of personal events in my life. Trust me, it’s not easy working a full time job with a girlfriend who lives an hour away, while at the same time trying to make plans for going back to college full time and helping two family members through car accidents, while simultaneously taking care of a sick two year old puppy with an intestinal tract issue…for example. Anyway, I’m back, I’m ready to go, and I’m going to start off my infamous return with a series of video game reviews. Now, I know these are late in coming compared to the release dates of the games, so a lot of what I’ll be saying has probably been said before and will be old news by the time people read this. But hey, I’m entitled to my two cents and I have the blog to voice it. So that’s what I’m going to do. That being said, let’s start with my first review:
So let’s look at the foundation of any fighting game: the roster. Ever since SC1 we’ve seen characters that have similar fighting styles: Rock and Astaroth, Siegfried and Nightmare, Seung Mina and Kilik, etc. SC5 seems to have eliminated most of that, along with the majority of their cast. The only real exceptions would have to be Pyrrha and Patroklos, and maybe Mitsurugi and Yoshimitsu. Even then all of those characters have distinctive moves. It was sad to see a lot of the cast go. I understand that the game is meant to take place in a new generation, but I’d almost rather see them start fresh than shuffle around the character models. It was nice that they were replaced with counterparts that were similar in nature, but some characters were taken out completely without any replacement at all: Hwang and Zasalamel for example. So we have 28 possible characters to play with, plus whatever you want to customize for yourself. Sadly, the custom characters don’t add to the roster of styles. They just use the same fighting set as the character they’re based off of. So, in the end, it’s still only 28 possibilities (well, 29 if you count Devil Jin’s fighting style). But that brings me to the special guest fighter: Ezio of Assassin’s Creed. Anyone who knows me or has read my previous posts can figure out that I’m a huge fan of both the Assassin’s Creed series as well as Soul Calibur. So when I heard the two were coming together, I was excited and a bit worried. Up until this point, the only guest fighter I ever liked was Necrid. The other guests just didn’t seem to have any place in the games (don’t even get me started on the damn Force users). Ezio is an exception for me. While he doesn’t have any background based in the Soul series, Ezio has seen his share of magical stuff (magic to him, technology to us. It’s a generational thing). On top of that, an assassin fits perfectly in the game. It’s basically the European answer to the Asian ninja style of Natsu. I was also very happy to see that they didn’t make him cheap by giving him a plethora of ranged attacks (like Link…dirty bastid). The characters fit, they all work, and there’s something for everyone. It just kind of sucks to see the old cast go and to have a gap left behind by the characters that were removed and left with no counterpart, but life goes on, and so does this review. Story Mode
I’m sorry to say that I was severely disappointed with this part of the game. Basically what you have are 20 chapters that are about 95% narrated with voiceover actors talking through still-frames. The sad part is that the images could be considered a step above storyboard artwork, which gives it a lazy and unpolished feeling. There are a couple of CGI movies here and there for the more major events, but they’re few and far between. Also, for some reason, the characters look very unnaturally reflective. The best example I can think of is Tira standing in front of burning buildings after Pyrrha turns into her Omega form. She has a strange, whitish, glowing outline that looks extremely out of place, and she’s not the only one. What’s even worse for me is that you only get to play in the story mode as 5 different characters: Regular and Omega Pyrrha, Regular and Alpha Patroklos, and Z.W.E.I for a chapter or two (so story-wise, it’s really only 3 characters). You don’t have any say in who you fight as. Up until this point we were used to each character having their own individual ending, albeit a rather short one. Still, you felt rewarded for getting through the story with each character, especially if it was one you weren’t used to fighting with. This time, you get nothing. “Hey, you beat the arcade-mode game with so-and-so. Great!...Have a nice day!” I would really have liked to see each character have their own individual ending, and that goes for the custom characters as well. I don’t care if they all have the same ending, but what other point is there in beating the arcade mode if there’s no reward at the end? On top of it, once you get through those 20 chapters, that’s it! You have all the story information the game can give, and unless you want to redo the fights, there’s no replay value in the story mode…or in any mode other than online play! I would have liked to see something where if you beat the game on easy, you get a bad ending, medium gives you the ok ending, and hard gives you the awesome ending. That way you’re rewarded for your efforts, and the game has some replay value. Sadly, this is not the case, and I personally feel robbed.Fighting Engine
Like every rendition of the Soul series, overhauls were done to the character’s fighting styles. Anyone who knows me knows that I always played as Nightmare from SC1 all the way through 4. This time, he didn’t feel right and Siegfried became my character of choice. Why? Simply because I didn’t like the changes made to Nightmare, and it felt like I was doing the same moves and combinations over and over. In addition, we’ve traded in the weapon’s special effects, extra health/armor and finishing moves of SC4 for super attacks and a revamped blocking system. I like the fact that they almost seemed to go back to the concepts of Soul Edge (or Soul Blade if you had the PSX version) in that every character had a super attack they could use, but they also would be penalized for blocking too much. In SE, you lost your weapon if you used your super attack too many times and blocked too much, which added a whole new dynamic to the game. While I would have liked to see a return to this system, it’s understandable why they only allowed your enemy to break through your guard instead of breaking your whole weapon. The super attacks don’t have any negative impact on you this time around, and many of them are fairly easy to dodge or block. I know a lot of people have compared the system to the metered super attacks of the Street Fighter series, but in all fairness a similar system did exist in SE. The only difference is that you now have to build the meter up as opposed to draining it. Other than that, not much has changed. The combos and powerful attacks are all there, and you can still deflect your opponent’s attacks. It was nice to see them make it a bit harder to Ring Out, and that they also added stages that were multi-tiered. It would have been cool to see an effect like in Dead of Alive where you move from one tier to the next in the middle of the fight, but at least you still got the change-up between rounds. Same game, same feel, just slightly tweaked.Customization
Up until now, SC3 had my favorite character customization system. SC5 took it to a whole new level, and completely blew SC4’s system out of the water. My biggest complaint with SC4 was that each piece had certain stats, and depending on your character and play-style, you felt almost forced to select those costume pieces. In the end, you more than likely looked like an ass-clown. Not that there isn’t something to be said for kicking someone’s ass while dressed up like a fool. I mean, how would YOU feel if you had your ass handed to you by someone in a skirt, spiked underwear, bone-armored boots and a top hat? SC5 allowed you to create characters based on what you wanted them to look like, not stats and abilities that, honestly, felt like they made fights cheaper. What do I mean by cheaper? How about playing as a Nightmare style character that could drop an enemy in two to three attacks? It might be great if you’re the one playing that character, but probably not so great if you’re on the receiving end. I was even impressed with how far they took the in-game character customization. Hell, I even got a chance to make Astaroth look relatively human for a change! I also really liked the fact that they allowed you to pose and customize your character’s selection card. The one downfall I saw was the lack of costume content. I know that there are at least 3 DLC releases planned for costume pieces, but starting out with the base selection the items were very limited, and while it was possible to make some pretty awesome looking characters, it still would have been nice to have some more options. Another thing that gripes me is the lack of fighting options. It would have been nice to see some fighting styles that didn’t belong to the game characters. And it might be asking too much, but it also would have been nice to see some form of gender recognition in the fighting styles. I’m not saying that the fighting styles should be gender specific, but when a rugged, woodsy, male character with black eyes does Leixia’s super move, the finishing pose at the end looks very much out of place (or, in the case of ReRow’s character: absolutely hysterical). All in all, it’s a minor complaint. I was very happy with what they did. I just would have liked to have seen a little more.Online Play
I only played a few matches online, but from my experience, I saw a fairly well developed system. Ranks are given based on experience gained from both winning and losing. This part actually kind of worried me, because even though my record was 5W 0L, I didn’t see anything in place that would balance the ranks. What I mean is that even if you lost, you got a little experience points (obviously not as much as if you won). You’re assigned a two-digit number based on your experience: E through A and then 5 through 1 (E5 being the lowest and A1 being the highest). Aside from proving that you have no life outside of SC5 online fighting and earning yourself some “bragging rights”, the only real purpose of the ranks seems to be to match you up with someone who equally has no life. The online servers seemed very stable to me, as I never had a lagging connection. I was in one fight, however where my opponent was disconnected. I was a little upset to see that he wasn’t marked in any fashion for this. I’m not saying that he should have had a loss added to his record, but I would like to know ahead of time how many disconnects someone has for two reasons: 1, so I don’t waste my time. And 2, in case they’re the type of person who might pull their modem just to save their record. It was also nice to see that you could enter into online tournaments and chat rooms to match yourself up against other players. It’s a simple system, but it’s one that works very well.Final Verdict
Considering that I’m not a big fan of online fighting games, and that it seemed to be the game’s only feature that offered some form of replay value, I have to give the game a 6 out of 10
. The story mode was short and felt like very little effort was put into it, arcade mode had no reason to be revisited, and character customization (while extremely developed) didn’t give you many options. The game is great if you have friends over and you want to duke it out for a while against each other or if you want to spend your time online. It starts out as a fun game but quickly loses its appeal. All the work and effort that was put into the game and all the revamps they made seem wasted because there’s nothing to keep people playing. As far as fighting games go, it’s still one of my favorites and it’s great to play with fellow fans. Seeing how quickly I burned out on the game, I wish I hadn’t purchased it. This feels like one of those titles that are better off rented. Still, it’s now a part of my game library now, and it’s always nice to have a quality fighting game tucked away for when you have friends over.