A fan­tas­tic spring­board for first-time fight­ers

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Daniella Lu­cas

Fight­ing games aren’t known for be­ing sin­gle-player friendly – why would they be? Surely the aim is to find some­one to pul­verise with your su­pe­rior thumb dex­ter­ity? But that also makes the genre quite lim­it­ing. How can any­one new to that type of game get a look in against those that have been play­ing the likes of Street Fighter and Tekken for years? En­ter the Soulcalibur se­ries: full of stylish and fre­netic sword­play, it’s a great place to start if you want to give fight­ing games a try thanks to how much it of­fers new­bies and hard­core play­ers alike.

This sixth en­try in the se­ries is prov­ing to be a par­tic­u­lar high­light as the game is rammed full of modes for solo play­ers, on top of the stan­dard ar­cade and Vs op­tions. First up is the Soul Chron­i­cle story mode where you can pick one of the ex­ist­ing ros­ter mem­bers and fol­low their ver­sion of events with the cursed blade Soul Edge. The whole thing is set be­tween the first and sec­ond games in the se­ries so in­volves a lot of clas­sic, fan-favourite char­ac­ters such as Sophi­tia, Taki and Mit­su­rugi as well as new­com­ers Grøh and Azwel. It’s all very melo­dra­matic no mat­ter which path you take, bro­ken up by in­tense bouts that in­crease in dif­fi­culty the closer you get to the fi­nal show­down for each sce­nario.

There’s also a far more in­volved, cus­tom ver­sion of the story called Li­bra Of Souls where you de­sign your own char­ac­ter and take them out on an al­most RPG-like ad­ven­ture. It’s ab­so­lutely mas­sive with loads of text to read through and al­ter­nate paths to choose from. You can also buy and eat food to give you stat boosts in a fight as well as weapons that can boost your strength or health. It’s a lot more in­volved than any story-based of­fer­ing we’ve seen in other fight­ing games and helps add to that sense of this be­ing a new­comer-friendly game. With so much for lone fight­ers to do that even if you don’t get on with com­pet­i­tive play there’s still a lot here to en­joy.

Deep an­tag­o­nism

How­ever, for those that are into the finer in­tri­ca­cies of bat­tle there’s a lot of depth un­der a very ap­proach­able um­brella of three main type of of­fen­sive strikes: hor­i­zon­tal, ver­ti­cal and kicks. You can get by just util­is­ing these with good tim­ing, but there are also a few easy com­bos you can do just hit­ting the same at­tack but­ton a few times. Delve deeper though and com­bos get more com­pli­cated with slight move­ment vari­a­tions hav­ing vastly dif­fer­ent re­sults. Mas­ter­ing guard­ing and guard breaks to counter op­po­nents will be your next step to be­com­ing a Soulcalibur pro.

On top of the ba­sic moveset there are sev­eral big­ger me­chan­ics to

weave in. Rev­er­sal Edge is a great equaliser, used to force a break into a fight to slow things down for a rock­pa­per-scis­sors-style game of chance where you try to trump your foe’s at­tack. It’s great for those who might not be as used to fight­ers as a chance to rally back from feel­ing flus­tered, while pros will no doubt find ways to use it to out-psy­che who­ever they’re play­ing. If you’re re­ally in a bind then you can also break out your Crit­i­cal Edge – a su­per move unique to each char­ac­ter that does loads of dam­age if you can get it to con­nect.

Fights have a much faster pace than those in Tekken or Street Fighter so du­els can feel like they’ve got a flow­ing, dance-like el­e­ment to them as you side-step around the arena and out­ma­noeu­vre your op­po­nent. Some char­ac­ters, such as the gi­ant sword-wield­ing Siegfried, are slower and heav­ier but they never feel at odds with the quick com­bat – there’s just as much merit in wait­ing and re­act­ing to the right open­ing as there is to dart­ing around. That lay­er­ing of sim­ple moves branch­ing into more com­plex ones and ex­tra op­por­tu­ni­ties gives all bouts a sense of ten­sion and tight­ness even if in re­al­ity you’re hor­ri­bly out­classed by the per­son you’re fight­ing. There are enough chances to feel like you could win with a ba­sic skillset and that lit­tle adrenalin rush will be what gets you to keep at it as your skills im­prove over time.

It’s a blur

While the fight­ing is su­per smooth, the vi­su­als have been com­pro­mised a bit on Xbox One – close-ups on char­ac­ter mod­els in the se­lect screen look smudged, and trees in back­grounds be­come a jagged mess as the cam­era swings past them. It’s not a game breaker, but see­ing it run on friends’ PCs you can’t help but feel a lit­tle jeal­ous at how much pret­tier it looks. Load­ing times are also an is­sue when se­lect­ing things in char­ac­ter cre­ation and else­where, but you never need to worry about any­thing drop­ping when it mat­ters most: when you’re try­ing to slice up that weirdo Voldo be­fore he starts thrust­ing men­ac­ingly at you.

While not quite as in­tense as the likes of Street Fighter, Soulcalibur VI has so much to of­fer gamers and is a worth­while in­vest­ment even if you don’t plan on play­ing with oth­ers. There is enough of a solo game to keep you en­ter­tained for hours.

“Even if you don’t get on with com­pet­i­tive play there’s still a lot here to en­joy”

left New char­ac­ter Azwel uses magic at­tacks, his weapons cre­ated out of thin air.

far left Se­ries stal­warts like the pi­rate Cer­vantes and nunchuck lov­ing Maxi re­turn.

above The char­ac­ter cus­tomi­sa­tion is deep. And, if you like, re­ally silly.

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