Game Review: SOUL CALIBUR VI (PS4)

It has been six years SOUL CALIBUR V was released onto the PS3 and Xbox 360 and over two decades since SOUL CALIBUR sparked my interest in the franchise; so will this latest instalment change anything? Let’s find out

  Title: SOUL CALIBUR VI
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: NAMCO / PROJECT SOUL
Platform: PS4
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Audio: English & Japanese
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1 – 2
Online Players: 2 – 8
Install: YES (11GB)

Over View:

SOUL CALIBUR VI is undoubtedly the ‘best’ SOUL CALIBUR experience to date; but even with all its praise formidable fighters can still loose to a highly effective forward heavy attack combo… but alas that disappointing defeat is a story saved for a later date. Developed by PROJECT SOUL / Bandai Namco and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment worldwide SOUL CALIBUR VI is the latest SOUL CALIBUR, originally known as SOUL BLADE / SOUL EDGE on the PlayStation, fighting game which sees characters from different origins brought together in a quest for the demonic swords known as SOUL EDGE.

I won’t dive deeper into the storyline or origins of the SOUL CALIBUR franchise but it is a franchise that revolves heavily around two demonic swords that can grant the wielder immense power. Previous iterations of SOUL CALIBUR, more recently with 2012’s release of SOUL CALIBUR V, explained the story through selective key characters and relatively followed-on from one another; but with SOUL CALIBUR VI the story is rebooted with a fresh perspective and is portrayed in two different formats; both taking place in the 16th Century of this fictional world.

In MISSION: Libra of Soul players will create their own customised character and set forth on an adventure to explore the world in hopes of obtaining the legendary swords while becoming a formidable fighter, while in STORY: Soul Chronicle players will find themselves experiencing each individual characters storyline of searching for the legendary swords in their own fashion. Regardless of the ‘story’ mode chosen both offer a refreshingly similar but different experience from one another.

In this case both MISSION: Libra of Soul and STORY: Soul Chronicle will see players control their respective characters through an onslaught of battles with battles separated by voiced dialogue scenes featuring gorgeous artwork between characters; however in MISSION: Libra of Soul players will have this mode acts as a tutorial to the overall mechanics of the game and expands their created characters functionality with level-up and experience. These levels can create a stronger fighter; but alas this functionality is relegated to this singular gameplay mode. That’s not all as in MISSION: Libra of Soul players can (at times) choose between two different options during dialogue sequences; with choices often referring to GOOD and BAD events within the world. Depending on the outcomes selected it can also affect your characters stats and more importantly unlock new content for you to explore. STORY: Soul Chronicle meanwhile will focus on individual character storylines; with a timeline being presented showcasing which characters story takes place at what portion of the SOUL CALIBUR timeline.

Truth be told a ‘hefty’ amount of game time will be spent exploring these two modes; and whether or not you like the story it portrays they are both exceedingly well presented and are thoroughly portrayed to the best of the games abilities. Naturally it’s not on the same cinematic scale as TEKKEN 7, with its extensive visual cut-scenes, but it is presented an enriched story driven experienced that we’ve not often seen from the SOUL CALIBUR experience; and that’s for BOTH gameplay modes. Never before has a player created character felt integral to a storyline experience; and yet here we are with customised characters being portrayed through character cut-scenes and seen interacting with notable characters of the franchise. A unqiue endeavor indeed.

Speaking of which Character Creation, and in turn Character Customisation, is a crucial key factor of SOUL CALIBUR VI and more than I could have possibly imagined. We are all too familiar of user created characters; and it’s a feature that has been presented in past SOUL CALIBUR experiences, but I like to think that Bandai Namco have exceeded expectations in this latest installment. Firstly not only can user generated characters be created, but body adjustments (height, width, bust) can also be adjusted alongside in-depth colour customisation options and voice options for the character; with pitch and tone for the voice being fully adjustable. All of this customisation is also available before we even explore the amount of outfits and accessories available.

Realistically SOUL CALIBUR VI doesn’t feature an endless list of outfits or accessories as one might hope; but new items can be obtained by playing through the story modes as well as purchased through character creation using points once unlocked. Although a fair (but restrictive) set of outfits and accessories are available it is up to users imagination to make the best of whats available. Looking out the content outright its hard to believe that SOUL CALIBUR VI renditions of Saber (from Fate/stay night), Luffy (from One Piece), Magikarp (from Pokemon) and Bowsette exist; but they do. More importantly any creations made can be used in other gameplay modes as well as shared online with other users to play or expand upon. SOUL CALIBUR VI is perfect not only for unleashing that inner-fighter; but also to unleash that creative-character-designer in you; including myself who is usually limited to just staying with default characters.

So with this being said; what is left in SOUL CALIBUR VI? Well of course it is the core fundamentals of SOUL CALIBUR, and that is the arcade gameplay for both offline and online experiences; all of which have been refined to deliver one of the most accessible entries in the franchise. Accessibility is key as even with the simple forward heavy attack combo can result in defeating able SOUL CALIBUR VI players (yep it happened to me while playing against other people locally). Regardless to this shame in my fighting games skills SOUL CALIBUR VI features a fully fledged Arcade mode – which rekindles the original arcade experience that kick-started the whole franchise – in addition to offline versus and training modes which can be used to battle against other players or used to hones one skills.

In terms of online functionality then SOUL CALIBUR VI features the usual inclusion of Ranked and Casual gameplay types; with Ranked Match types offering SP (Soul Points) which are used to determine a players worldwide online ranking. Unfortunately unlike TEKKEN 7 a Tournament styled mode isn’t included; but players can join lobbies (in casual) for up to eight players with the winner staying on to fight the next opponent. Ranked Match types meanwhile simply search for players determined by a set of rules which the player can adjust beforehand. Simplistic but effective online multiplayer and pretty much the gold standard nowadays – although it would have been nice to see something ‘a bit more’ than the norm.

Naturally these game modes would be nothing without the gameplay and characters that fill them; and while SOUL CALIBUR VI only features twenty characters (with more being added as DLC) they each have their own fightstyle and visual appearance. No two characters feel the same and with the inclusion of created characters, albeit via yourself or online, the availability of characters are endless – even if these created characters do have the same fight style as those already in the game. Depending on your view of ‘character numbers’ this could be a good or a bad sign; but most notable characters, such as Taki, Voldo, Cerventes and Sophitia are available in the base game.

This aside the gameplay combat within SOUL CALIBUR VI plays pretty much the same as past installments, as well as other fighting games, with Light, Medium & Heavy Attacks lined up with different button inputs on the controller (such as Square, Triangle and Circle) while X is reserved for blocking. Naturally these can be chained together to create devastating moves or combos. Throws meanwhile require two buttons to be pressed at once (such as Square & Triangle or Circle and Triangle) and depending on the standing point of the throw will result in a different type of throw being performed.

New styles of combat have also been introduced (or reintroduced) in the forms of Reversal Edge, Break Attacks and Critical Edges. When used they can deal devastating damage to your opponent; but in these cases a special gauge situated in the middle of the screen has to be filled in order to be activated. Think of these as being similar to TEKKEN 7’s RAGE meter when health is being depleted; but easier to pull off as they are linked to the shoulder/bumper buttons of the controller. Naturally controller inputs can be remapped; but the default layout – even on a PlayStation 4 controller – is simple to understand and effective to use.

Finally to round-out the SOUL CALIBUR VI’s content we have the MUSEUM; an option which allows players to view all sorts of content from the game including character portraits, concept artwork, cut-scene movies, music. The most useful addition of this MUSEUM is the ‘library’ in which the lore and terminology of SOUL CALIBUR; a useful feature for those wishing to understand this complex world of swords and souls.

My experience with SOUL CALIBUR V, which was originally released onto the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2012, was a disappointing one; and so my expectation of SOUL CALIBUR VI could have been lower than others, even including the hype surrounding it. Fortunately for us that hype was well deserved as SOUL CALIBUR VI is of exceptional quality and stands proud next to TEKKEN 7 as one of the best fully 3D console fighters. I personally am more familiar with the world of TEKKEN; but SOUL CALIBUR VI reignites my enthusiasm of the original SOUL EDGE / SOUL BLADE experience. Both in Sword and Soul; SOUL CALIBUR VI is not only an entertaining fighting game but it is an exceptional game with a deep story to share and one hell of a character creation mode. A must buy for any fighting game fan.

Score: review-stars-5

SOUL CALIBUR VI is now available for the PlayStation 4 and is also available for the Xbox One and Windows PC.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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