Namco Bandai returns with another sword battling entry in the reputed Soul Calibur franchise. Chronologically numbered, Soul Calibur V bites down for another spellbinding series of epic match-ups.

Built up by its reputation, Soul Calibur is known for delivering a great looking, fast-paced fighting game. While it might not be hailed as the most “technical” of the fighters, Soul Calibur still has enough joystick mastery to make it tournament material. The latest entry, 'Soul Calibur V' follows this trend, although this time around the alterations are more monumental then before. Bad or good, 'Soul Calibur V' still delivers at its core, and that is what is most important. The punch might be a little lighter but this is still one solid fighter.

The story is as expected. A bunch of mystical jibber-jabber that is really hard to connect with. Even with its new "storybook" styled presentation, it just a more drawn out version of the nonsensical “soul sword” drama you've already sat through in the older editions. Thankfully it's not a requirement to the enjoy the game, which is a plus. For specifics "V" (Soul Calibur V) is set 17 years after the events of 'Soul Calibur IV' with the focus revolving around two new characters Patroklos and Pyrrha (the children of long-time Calibur fighter Sophia.) These new characters are somewhat interesting, but really don't stand out any more than anyone else on the roster. Given the depth of backstory over the years, I'm surprised Project Soul didn't stick with a more familiar route. Furthermore, having the setting almost 20 years later means some of the characters have changed. The new roster changes mixed with a few of the older stars is another odd direction to take. Although some of the new fighters are just the siblings of the lost fighters, Project Soul is going to disappoint a lot of faithful players with its new twist on the series.

Soul Calibur is known for its guest characters, and in “V” we see Ezio Auditore from Assassin's Creed making an appearance. As "Assassin's" fans know, Ezio is a great character and with all his hand-to-hand debauchery is a perfect fit for the series. However, even though Ezio is a prominent entry, he isn't as "epic" as Darth Vader or Spawn. Aside from guests and the two new leads, expect to see familiars like the iconic antagonist Nightmare, the mysterious Yoshimitsu, the overly sexualized Ivy, and so on. Like I mentioned having the game almost 20 years later means “V” is a mixture of familiar oldies are a few new characters like Leixia (daughter of Xianghua) and the float orb mistress Viola to mention a couple. Each "new" character is a worthy addition with their own move-sets and weapons that only expand on the variety and play-styles when mixing it up.

Character creation still has an important role in Soul Calibur V, remaining another reason why the series has made its own wave in a sea of mimicking fighters over the years. More revisions have been made in this department, so you'll be able to dig deeper into making your own fighters. This goes for everything from the colour of your weapon, weapon affects and the height of your creation. I would still like a few more options added into the mix, especially when it comes to unlockable items. Soul Calibur gives us a good number of options, but more is always good.

The gameplay also sees a few new innovations while retaining the same feel as the prior battlers. This means fast weapon attacks, destructible armour and flurries of combination attacks along with a new charging combo meter that has worked its way into the game. When unleashed you can unleash more powerful “edge” attacks that can take a large chunk of your opponent's health. Guarding (guard impact technique) has also been overhauled to include more buttons to activate. Really it seems like an unnecessary change, but one that requires a little more skill to activate. Although another “guard” manoeuvre is favourable and when timed right you can “just guard” which is pretty much a perfect block that gives you a second to get in a few quickly timed hits. For other changes fights now consist of three victories instead of two, which drags out the matches a little longer, but feels ultimately unnecessary. Change can be good, however, these changes don't make for a better game which ends up making Soul Calibur V feel unfocused.

Online Soul Calibur V is a fairly adapt, however it can be get mundane after a while. Of course this depends on your compulsion for human vs. Human combat. Fighting in a group with rankings is a great way to gauge your skill level and the ability to re-watch your recent matches is great for self-study and all the voyeurs of your profile. Soul Calibur V is a great building ground for an interesting system and the interrogation and public profiles help. This is all good.

Graphically "V" looks sharper than ever. This is one fluid fighting game with remarkable texture work and an overachieving attention to detail. The music plays along with this, however we are still dealing with long intro's and over pronounced voice-overs in the beginning of battles that could easy be changed (or better, erased.) I know its a “Soul Cal” staple, but it does nothing for the game. Beyond the sound the art design of the characters, weapons, costumes all really showcase the diversity and imagination the team puts forward. Sure, some of the created characters feel dumped down in comparison, but it is good enough to pass the grade. Soul Calibur V is a stunner and in HD it really pops.

No doubt, Soul Calibur V is a good, if not great fighting game. However the new changes in the gameplay and roster might scare away some of the faithful fans. Change can be good, but most the alterations aren't exactly beneficial. Still, if you are not familiar with the brand, or have been undecided about jumping back in to the series, Soul Calibur V feel slightly fresher then other editional leaps. Like I said, Soul Calibur V is a good and it can provide hours of fun with friends, but just don't expect to it to have a longing impression like its processors.

  • Great cast with ample variety
  • Want change? Soul Calibur V gives you some
  • Graphical punch, this game looks grea
  • Hey look, it's Ezio!
  • Fluid fighting mechanics, great for all levels
  • More unlockables would have been nice
  • New modifications to fighting engine seem pointless
  • Online mode can get dull
  • No beginner tutorial
  • New roster pushes away some of your old favourites
  • Story mode is underwhelming
Quote: "No doubt, Soul Calibur V is a good, if not great fighting game. However the new changes in the gameplay and roster might scare away some of the faithful fans."
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 02.09.12 | Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360

Similar Games: Soul Calibur IV (8.7)


Soul Calibur V

Namco Bandai

Project Soul


US Release
January '12


PS3, X360

Players 1-2
Online MP 2-6
5.1 Surround
HD 720-1080p
D/L Content