Like most Story modes in the Soul series, you play through the clash of the swords Soul Edge and Soul Calibur during whatever era each game happens to take place in. This time you play as Patroklos and Pyrrha, children of former Soul Calibur warrior Sophitia, as they fight against their destiny of being mere pawns of the mystical blades. In between chapters and fights, you are treated to a slideshow of sepia-colored frames that are supposed to pass for cutscenes to move the story along. However, these still image slideshows are out of place with the fully voiced dialogue accompanying them. Occasionally you are treated to a CGI cut-scene to break up the monotony, but animated cutscenes at each interval would have been preferred. The few fully animated cutscenes given are nice to watch, but just leave you wishing for more of the same. The pale brown and yellow colors that make up the majority do little to add any kind of excitement or energy to them, and you may feel like skipping them and getting right to the fighting instead of suffering through them. Don’t expect the writing to save the story either, as the characters are poorly developed, and the two main characters are a little obnoxious.
Arcade mode doesn’t exactly fare better in giving you a full experience. Don’t expect every character to have their own special endings. What Arcade mode amounts to is a few fights against random opponents, and accomplishes little more than adding to your point collection. Aside from that, you can also choose the Legendary Souls Mode where you fight the computer and have your best clear time ranked. This is a much harder version of Arcade mode in some respects, pitting you against a higher difficulty of computer opponents.
Aside from the single player modes, you also can play online against other players. The online component has been improved upon and comes off as very satisfying. You fight against players around the world and can also choose a set of rules to follow, and the system will set you up with opponents searching for the same thing. This makes finding opponents easy, which means you get to the real fun much quicker, which is the true pull of Soul Calibur V.
The character creation is very interesting and quite fun. All the points you collect from fighting in different modes pays off when you go to create a custom fighter. Aside from picking from a number of unlockable items to outfit your character with, you can also place stickers, symbols, and patterns on parts of the body and pieces of equipment, making it even more of your own. Like most fighting game character creations, your character must have a move set of one of the main playable characters, so don’t expect a distinct fighting style unique to you.
Outside of all this, the real appeal to Soul Calibur is the fighting, whether it be online or against a friend in the same room. The single player aspects offer so very little to the player, and it is the multiplayer formats that will keep them coming back for more. Online play and the Vs. mode may satiate your hunger for some true Soul Calibur fighting. However, a lack of appealing single player options may cause gamers to shelf it much sooner than expected. Soul Calibur V is probably the best entry in the series as far as handling goes, but the formula is becoming stale quickly. By the next entry, hopefully they will give us more ways to enjoy the gripping and smooth combat that has made the Soul series such a staple in the fighting genre.
FINAL GRADE: B-