Gamescom 2011: Soul Calibur V Hands-On Preview - High Calibur
Written Wednesday, August 31, 2011 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
After going hands-on with Soul Calibur V we think that X360A could really do with a gravelly-voiced announcer. The guy has such conviction and gravitas that we would literally believe anything, anything, he said. Happy days. Still the chance to go hands-on with yet another highly anticipated brawler was not to be sniffed at either, although using the term brawler may be doing the series a disservice as Namco Bandai has always emphasised a more strategic approach to combat, with just as much riding on well timed dodges and counters as there is on all out offence.
With four new characters revealed at Gamescom, including Hilde, Maxi, Tira and Voldo, hardcore fans can rest safe in the knowledge that plenty of old favourites will be joining the new faces this time around. Producer Hisaharu Tago was keen to point out that each character had, perhaps wisely, been appropriately balanced this time around to prevent any one-sided match ups and ensure that players would have the same chance of victory no matter which character they backed. The most obvious example of this was Hilde, who has apparently been banned from many Soul tournaments due to her overwhelming power. The creators did toy with the idea of dropping her completely but instead focused on making her more evenly matched with her rivals.
Each character looks and handles as you may have come to expect, with a further boost to freedom of movement and quick blocks. So now a quick double tap will have your character drifting away from attempted attacks and able to exploit that opening, just as a well-timed block will leave your foe off balance and ripe for a swift kicking. If anything the game played a lot more like the earlier games in the series, rather than the most recent incarnation. And that can only be a good thing.
Obviously the other new feature this time around are the Critical Edge attacks, which you can charge up by performing and dodging attacks. Once the gauge is full then two quarter circles towards your foe, plus the trigger button, will lead to a flashy, energy sapping attack. The timing for this attack seemed a bit fiddly at first, but once you’ve nailed it then it becomes almost second nature. If anything though the attacks can be easily dodged, thanks to the obvious lead in, and the best use for them is as part of a flowing combo or clever counter move. Just trying to catch your opponent cold with one can leave you open to a pummelling, as we found to our cost, but in the right circumstances they can be a game changer.
As ever you have the standard array of regular attacks to damage your foes with, plus a whole smattering of special attacks and combos. Carefully juggling your foe, and then unleashing a well-timed special or Edge attack is the key to victory. This is certainly not a game where random button mashing will get you very far, at least as long as your opponent knows how to dodge astutely. While it may seem a bit more slow paced when compared to high octane titles like Street Fighter, the change of pace is certainly welcome and the characters are suitably varied so that you would feel at home using each of them.
Using Voldo was certainly an experience, as we’d forgotten about his bizarre fighting style. It certainly amused the developers, though not our opponent, as we basically dropped into what can only be described as the ‘worm’ style and slithered forward while pummelling at their ankles. A mixture of horizontal attacks opened our opponent up, then we launched them into the air but missed the opportunity for further damage. However, luck was on our side as we dodged a rather lazy lunge and whipped out a Critical Edge attack. Face, in your. The next round basically saw us get our ass handed to us, before we stormed back to take the win. Variety was certainly the key to emerging triumphant, and the use of a lush arcade pad didn’t hurt either, as we made the most of the unorthodox style on offer to claim victory. The good thing from the experience is that it was clear that even newcomers could quickly sit down, pick up a pad, and string together a host of clever moves and nimble dodges.
With a few more victories under our belts it is nice to see the series returning to its roots and offering a much more balanced affair than the slightly misjudged Soul Calibur IV. That being said you will still be seeing more of the same when it comes down to the roster, and many of the familiar stages make a return as well not to mention the rather vexing Ring Out rule – where defeat can be snatched from the jaws of victory at any point. While it may well be synonymous with the series, that doesn’t mean we have to like it. So while Soul Calibur V is certainly an improvement on the last title - at least based on our experience - only time will tell whether the complete package offers enough ingenuity and variety to appease fans and new players alike.
Expect to be intoning your character's name, and beating the tar out of your friends with (virtual) pointy weapons when Soul Calibur V is released in early 2012.