The stage of history has been set with the release of Bandai Namco’s weapon-based fighter Soul Calibur VI. A soft reboot of the series, does this title provide enough strategy and nuance to throw down once more?
Soul Calibur VI Review
Those who have never played a Soul Calibur game before will be dazzled with the amount of depth each fight has. Each fighter packs a weapon, which has its own benefits and drawbacks. Katana wielders like the samurai Mitsurugi are solid, all-around fighters, while those looking for more power might gravitate toward the heavy hitter Astaroth. There are some outlandish options as well, including the multi-weapon user Azwel and the magic user Geralt of Rivia (from The Witcher series). Only three new fighters make their appearance this time around, but newcomers and veterans alike will find somebody that fits their playstyle.
Combat uses an eight way directional run system that allows people to fight on a three-dimensional plane. Spatial awareness is an absolute must – those not paying attention can be boxed into a wall or near the edge of an arena. This goes with the fighting engine too – each combatant uses two attack buttons, a kick, and a guard, which can vary up how each attack is performed. Taking advantage of an opening is a thrilling feeling, and countering blows gives off a satisfying clink of metal on metal.
Let’s say you knew all of this, and have been throwing down since the days of Soul Edge in 1995. What makes Soul Calibur VI unique? A new mechanic, dubbed the “Reversal Edge” makes its debut, and serves as a counter. Those who utilize it can block attacks, and are thrown into a rock-paper-scissors duel with their opponent. If the right attack is chosen, an additional blow is dealt. This doesn’t always work as it should though – battles are thrown into a screeching halt and it simplifies the deep fighting game system into something more simplistic. It’s far from game breaking, but it is a questionable addition that feels more like an experiment.
Another fairly new mechanic to the Soul Calibur series that makes its return is the Critical Edge. A “super” attack that deals additional damage and uses meter, this mechanic has been boiled down to a single button press in Soul Calibur VI. Some may lament the quarter-circle moves that were required in Soul Calibur V, but the simplified input required will likely appeal to more casual fans.
The typical suite of options is available for play in Soul Calibur VI. Arcade, Versus, and Training are what you’d expect, and a competent online mode is available. Available in both Casual and Ranked, the Rank Points earned in the latter option give incentive to come back. We encountered little lag during our sessions, and finding a match was relatively painless.
In true Soul Calibur fashion, a story mode is available in the form of Soul Chronicle. Told over the course of a couple of years, the story follows series mainstays Kilik, Maxi, and Xianghua as they seek out to destroy Soul Edge. It’s fairly low budget, made up of still character portraits, text boxes, and the odd battle. Plot and narration could use some work too – the moment you see a flashback of something that happened two minutes ago or hear a silly pirate accent is the moment you realize that you can’t take any of it seriously. Nevertheless, it is a fun diversion that will last a few hours. For those looking for more, individual character story arcs can also be unlocked.
Those with a more creative side can make their own character and level them up in the “Libra of Soul” mode. The character creation functionality is robust – it is easy to make the character of your dreams among the 16 different races and wealth of options.
Libra of Soul is a bit more robust than Soul Chronicle, with the ability to level up, send out mercenaries, equip food items, and utilize the spirit scales. Dialog is full of filler and told in nondescript boxes, but gameplay offers a healthy grind as players roam the land.
It’s just a shame that some of the options available in the game pale to those from previous entries. The number of combatants is lower, modes like “Weapon Master” and “Active Matching Battle” are MIA, and there are no alternate costumes to speak of. DLC is planned for the game, but paying for additional fighters that appear in different modes of the base game (like Tira) is unfortunate.
Soul Calibur VI is the best looking and best playing game of the series, but the number of available options and characters is lacking. Fighting game fans will still have a blast in this stage of history, but don’t be surprised if it leaves you wanting more.
This review of Soul Calibur VI was done on the PlayStation 4. A digital code was provided by the publisher.
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