In 1998, Namco released the first Soulcaliber in arcades and later on the Sega Dreamcast and the fighting game genre has never been the same. Many will argue that Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat had more influence on fighting games and those folks would be correct. Howeve, when it came to 3D brawlers, none were able to match the unparalleled finesse of the Soul Edge sequel. Sure Tekken came first, Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter dominated but Soulcaliber was different. It wasn’t just the weapons that made a difference. Every move and sword swing played like a high stakes game of chess. It was a thinking man’s fighting game! They sure provided a back drop to prove that. How many other fighting games would dare to shove an RPG level story line into an arcade game? Oh and the graphics! Even by modern standards,the original game isn’t ugly to look at, unlike some of its peers. Soulcaliber was a fighting game elevated and has been ever since. That is, until the black sheep of the family Soulcaliber V. The game suffered from glitches, boring story and ditched series mainstays. After this, Namco buried the franchise for a long time. That is until now.
Soulcaliber VI is a total retelling of the franchise by essentially rebooting the original game. By doing so, it captures a lot of the same charm of its source material. Namco almost went full remake on the story and added a nice level of depth in the process. They fulfill this with two separate story modes. Chronicle of the Soul is the main story mode. Players can choose to follow the main story or choose sub stories to follow their favorite characters view of the main story. This adds a multi layer story mode that rivals some RPG’s and well exceeds any fighting game to date. However, Namco did not stop there. Libra of Souls is the main story told through the eyes of your own create a character. This gives the story an additional perspective and is a welcome addition to the game. Soulcaliber VI also packs in an arcade mode for those folks who want the typical fighting game fare without the story, a training mode and probably what will be the most utilized portion with V.S. mode. Players can choose to play against someone in the room or go it alone against a very well balanced CPU. They have also included an online mode if you wanted to take the fight to the streets.
I may have mispoken earlier when I said that V.S. would be the most used mode. That moniker will undoubtedly go to the Create a Soul mode. This has been included in every Soulcaliber game since the third one. Even though a lot of the same armor and clothing options are series staples, the game somehow has made this mode significantly more versatile than it’s predecessors. You can choose different sub types of character class, add stickers and patterns or color everything to your liking. It’s truly remarkable and quite breathtaking with the amount of characters you are able to make off of such a simple system. I was able to crank out a bunch of beloved characters and still kept going. The only disappointment I have is that I’ll be capped at 100! This may sound like too many but trust me, once you start you can’t stop just like a can of Pringles!
As I’ve stated earlier, Soulcaliber has always been a pretty game and this one is no different. All the levels are truly a beautiful sight to behold and I found myself taking hits from my opponent by checking out how remarkable the game looks. It’s that pretty! The character modules themselves are just as detailed and you can tell that Namco Bandai invested a lot of time and love into the project. This also translates to the fighting mechanics themselves. Just as I’ve described, Soulcaliber VI still feels like a fighting game version of chess. Every move must be calculated in anticipation of your opponent and one misstep can be the reason you lose a match if you’re not careful. Of course, the game still accommodates button mashers. That, of course, may be the most brilliant part of the series. A hardened veteran challenging a new school fighter slamming on the buttons have an equal chance of victory if the conditions are right. Maxi has always been a great example. New comers can slam away at the buttons pulling off moves with what seems like years of practice, while in the hands of a seasoned veteran he can become unbeatable. Easy to learn and a lifetime to master.
Overall Soulcaliber VI offers a lot of bang for your buck. There’s plenty of single player game modes to keep you enthralled for awhile. The online element will ensure you keep coming back for years if competition is your bag. The Create A Soul will have you spending countless hours just trying to make your favorite character or origin creations just right. I’ve always been a huge fan of the franchise, but I dare say that this is the best one yet. Namco Bandai have crafted an absolute masterpiece with the latest installment and you absolutely owe it to yourself to pick up a copy. If you have never touched a Soulcaliber game before, now is the perfect time since the story has been rebooted and it will be easy to catch up. This game is a must play and damn near perfect… it also helps that The Witcher is in it and plays like a dream.
10 out of 10 Must Buy Play!
*All images taken from Playstation.Com