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Soul Calibur VI

Soul Calibur VI

Bandai Namco's weaponised fighting series is back, and it's in the best shape it has been in for years.

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It's hard to pinpoint exactly why, but Soul Calibur has always been a fighting game appreciated by the casual crowd. Perhaps that's due to the fact that it's easy to get things done because it only has three attack buttons and one to block. Maybe it's because of the fact that you're fighting with weapons. Or it could be the fact that there have always been well made single-player modes. Or could it possibly be the historical themes, or maybe the colourful ensemble of fighters?

Probably it's a combination of everything we just mentioned that attracted people to play Soul Calibur, which was so widely appreciated that it got an undeserved reputation for being too casual. Perhaps Bandai Namco has heard this and saw it as criticism because in Soul Calibur IV and V, experiments began with different solutions to expand and add depth - and thus they tried to fix something that, in our opinion, was not at all broken.

The technique that usually separates the pros from the rank and file in the lovely world of Soul Calibur is Guard Impact, a counter-system which allows a player who really understands the basics to easily punish their opponent with thoughtful attacks. Most people who play at casual levels usually simply strive to block incoming damage rather than counter it, which means that you only scratch the surface of what the system really has to offer.

The reason why we're mentioning this is that the biggest news gameplay-wise this time is called Reversal Edge, which is another variant of countering with a rock-paper-scissors system that results in flashy animations (definitely a response to Street Fighter's ultra attacks in IV and V). Unlike Guard Impact, it is much easier to perform, but it can also result in backlashes where victory slides into defeat. It feels like a feature that is more in line with Soul Calibur's broader audience, and may not necessarily be what the best players have asked for, but it will at least make it more fun for most people.

Soul Calibur VISoul Calibur VI

Other than that, the single-player portion of the game is something Bandai Namco has been happy to talk about, and for two reasons. One being that Soul Calibur VI, despite the name, is something of a reboot for the series that actually takes place at the same time as the very first Soul Calibur. While we really love fighting games, we also think that the stories in this genre are quite rubbish and unnecessary. With that said, it's still nice to see some of the classic fighters - including characters like Maxi, Mitsurugi, Taki, and Ivy - in their prime again instead of the ageing folks in later games. Those who really liked the original when it started could, in a way, almost see this as an alternative sequel to that game instead of Soul Calibur II.

The second reason that Bandai Namco has been so proud of what they have to offer single-player wise is the quantity. The foundation is pretty well-developed with a basic story, where you can then choose to play all the characters to see what they were up to during the first Soul Calibur game. But it's not the only single-player mode, and here we also find Libra of Soul, which is a really expansive mode.

Here we can create our own fighter with the game's very advanced character creation tool. Whether you want to make a giant barbarian complete with mandatory mullet, a typically curvy female horror movie zombie, or an archetypal kung fu monk - it's possible to create exactly what you want and then take your fighter on an adventure. Soul Calibur does not seem to have the same budget and status at Bandai Namco anymore and virtually all of the storylines are presented through a narrator and cartoon pictures. It feels cheap in comparison to Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat X, which set a new standard for single-player in fighting games, and the story is still not that interesting either.

Nevertheless, we're still happily playing to slowly but steadily level up our character, learn more about the game features, and take part in battles that throw the concept around a bit. Those who know their Soul Calibur know that to kill several lizard men, fight while being poisoned, beat people up in dangerous winds and stuff like that is not unique to this part of the series but it's used much more cleverly here and the adventure actually offers some elements that are borderline role-playing. The most obvious thing is if you want to be good or bad, but you can also equip yourself differently to suit different opposition and buff yourself with items for particularly demanding matches.

Soul Calibur VI
Soul Calibur VISoul Calibur VI
Soul Calibur VI
Soul Calibur VISoul Calibur VISoul Calibur VI