My soul hasn’t burned for a SoulCalibur game since SoulCali II. After the last two extremely half-hearted sequels I have a hard time stoking the ol' soul up much hotter than room temperature and it feels like the series has been relegated to a competent-but-stale novelty act by both Namco and fans alike.
Enter SoulCalibur V, with its new Story Mode, expanded character creator, and improved netcode. While Story Mode is a stark improvement over anything offered in SoulCali IV, that statement only carries weight if you’re interested in using Patroklos and Pyrrha (Sophitia’s kids), otherwise your single-player experience is limited to a six-level bossless Arcade Mode and a Quickplay Mode against random CPU opponents, making SoulCali V seem incredibly barebones in the wake of last year’s content-stuffed Mortal Kombat reboot, and forces the game’s online component to carry most of the burden. Though as luck would have it, online play is much improved this time out with a lobby system featuring a spectator mode and almost no lag. The roster is a solid mix of fresh faces and old favorites and it's unquestionably one of the best looking fighters on the market, but the problem remains that after having played Mortal Kombat, I’ve come to expect more from my fighting games and SoulCalibur V comes up short.
Reinventing fighting games is tricky business - change too much and you incur the wrath of your longtime fans, but change too little and you risk slipping further into obscurity with each passing iteration. Namco clearly hasn't found the sweet spot between the two, choosing to make minor improvements in lieu of a full overhaul as the future of the series teeters on the edge of the stage of history.
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See you Thursday!