Soulcaliber V Review

I have never been a big fan of Fighting Games. I’ve always placed the genre below Action Adventure, RPG, and FPS games in my own preferences. That said, I have always been exposed to them. Growing up, my brother was a pretty big fighting game fan. I can vividly remember growing up with Street Fighter, Tekken, and Virtua Fighter alongside Zelda, Sonic, and Mega Man. And I do enjoy some of those fighting games, though I’m certainly not the best at them.

Soulcaliber is definitely a series that has earned a place as one of my favorite fighting game series. While I’ve never had the chance to play the first game in the series, Soul Edge (AKA Soul Blade), my interest was almost instantly grabbed by the first Soulcaliber game for the Dreamcast. A fighting game which gave it’s characters weapons. This was what really caught my attention- a fighting game where every character didn’t simply punch and kick their way to victory. In addition to the new variety in fighting style, Soulcaliber also introduced (I believe) the 8-way run 3D environment.

It was those games which paved the way for a successful and generally very well-recieved series. So how does this, the Fith-numbered (eighth overall), game of that series hold up?


Soulcaliber V(5) continues the series very approachable, yet satisfying and fun, combat. The game provides a great duality where learning combos and special attacks can lead to a great sense of satisfaction (as you obliterate your opponent) while not being as difficult to use as some other fighting games, but at the same time it is completely possible for someone to competently play simply by ‘button-mashing’ their way to victory. The addition of the series mainstays of Guard Impact (parrying or active blocking) and Ring Outs means that there is always the possiblity of a last minute turn-around and some stunningly lucky victories. It’s always funny, and quite a relief, when an opponent accidently flings themselves over the edge of the arena, or else sets himself up for spectacular ring out from mid-air.

    Link to the hilarious video here.

The series’ strong suit, if you ask me, also has a great deal to do with the variety the game offers via the numerous different weapons and fighting styles. With 28 characters, at least 19 different weapons (albeit 10 of those being variations on ‘sword’) and about 25 different fighting styles, Soulcaliber V certainly holds up to that standard. It is ridiculously easy to pick up the game and tool around a bit until you find a character or two who’s particular style fits you best. This installment does seem to suffer a bit, at first glance, due to the removal of a number of the series mainstays. However, in most cases, this has been covered with the addition of new characters, though how that pans out, both from a gameplay and story perspective, is something of a mixed bag.

Overall the combat is as solid and strong as ever, though the gameplay does somewhat falter when it comes to the various game modes. Specifically, the game lacks any sort of ‘conquest’ mode (Weapon Master, Chronicles of the Sword, Tower of Lost Souls, Tales of Souls) meaning that there is little to do once you have completed Story Mode, aside from grinding up your player level via Arcade, Quick Match, and Online battles. Further disappointing is the lackluster Story Mode, which drives you though the single, linear story of a handful of the characters, switching out the character you’re playing as every few levels. This means that much of Story Mode- or at least the parts you play- is spent learning or re-learning a character.


The laments of the Story Mode unfortuatly do not end with the gameplay. The linearity means that it only really follows two ‘main characters’, the other appearances being little more than cameos. Couple that with the fact that Story Mode is only 20 Chapters, and it leaves you with a mode that is over and done with in so short a time that it’s the only time the game does not keep track of and display. I’d guess it at around a few hours, though most of that is cutscenes and the like. A great deal of that story is also delivered through the characters telling you things, rather than the game showing you. For example we never actually see Pyrrha being taken by Tira or her mother’s death. We don’t even know if what Patroklos claims happened is really what happened, after all he does seem pretty guilible.

Crippling the game’s lacking story even further is Arcade Mode. This mode lets you select a character and play through a certain number of matches. Now, in other Soulcaliber games (and most fighting games in general really) Arcade Mode ends with a ‘Destined Battle’ against a specific (lore/story significant) opponent, a boss fight or two, a cutscene somewhere in that last segment, and an ‘Ending’. This is missing in SCV. There are no Destined Battles, the Boss you fight is dependent on your difficulty and ‘Route’, and there are no endings or cutscenes. Let me repeat that: there are no endings. You defeat the boss of your path, and that’s it, you get to play again or go back.

    Link to a arcade playthrough here.

This further’s the feeling that every character except Pyrrha, Patroklos, Tira, and maybe Nightmare are simply cameos, having little more to do with the game’s story than this installments guest character- Ezio Auditore from Assassin’s Creed. For a series of fighting games that usually have an interesting story that is woven through all (or most, anyway) of it’s characters, this is very disappointing.


If there’s something other than the combat that keeps me coming back to this series, it is most certainly the art, graphics, and music. The music is great as usual, providing a great soundtrack for your battles. The sound effects are also frequently good, though this game does have some great (if sometimes annoyingly repetitive) Voice Acting. The graphics are always good for their time, and this installment is no different. While they are not exactly over-the-top impressive compared to IV(4), that is likely because both are for the same generation of console, and thus limited by the hardware. That said there does seem to have been some improvement between the two, or at least a change in style that I like.

Speaking of style, I love the art style of these games. The character and level designs are always very impressive and deliver an excellently fitting ambiance- with the occasional exception of guest characters. I especially like the character designs, art, and models in all the installments I’ve played, including this one. Of course, there are some I prefer over others, but that’s just personal taste. All the designs fit together, along with the setting, amazingly. That said, I do find it disappointing that SCV lacks the unlockable galleries of previous games. There’s no hi-rez model veiwer, no concept art gallery, no sound test, and come to think of it, no expanded lore.


The Soulcaliber series added the ability to create custom characters in SCIII(3), and it has since become a staple of the series. The character creator in this game is pretty good, if seeming somewhat lacking in some categories. While these can be used in both online and offline modes- barring Story, obviously- I find the lack of a Conquest style mode peticularly bothersome here, as it’s something I’ve liked to do with created characters in the past. The Character Creation has also become a bit of a detriment in this game, as the majority of unlockables have been devoted to items for it as well as Titles for use online. These are attained by grinding up your player level- something else that becomes tedious. Overall, I simply don’t like the trading of Museum-style unlocks for grinding out titles and costumes.


So what do I think of the game? Well, it’s a little lacking, honestly. I miss my unlockables and story. I’m especially dissapointed in the lack of story-ish endings for Arcade Mode as well as the quite frankly sad state of the Story Mode. That said, it’s still a solid fighting game, and it’s still Soulcaliber. It looks and plays wonderfully.

If you’re looking for a good fighting game, I recommend picking it up. If you’re a Soulcaliber fan I certainly recommend it, though be warned of what this installment is lacking. At the end of the day I’d say pick up, or at least rent it. However, I wouldn’t (and didn’t) pay new-release full price. Hopefully the next game will be more complete, and maybe they can fix this one up a bit with some DLC.

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