Review: Soulcalibur VI
Souls, Swords, and a Surprising Number of Lizard Dicks
I do love me a fighter and Soulcalibur 2 is what started my exploration of fighters. I am not very good at them but I have always enjoyed my transition from button mashing, to experimenting, and finally, to combo creation and execution. That journey is currently well underway in Soul Caterpillar 6 and it’s quite the fast-paced journey. Beyond the two different story modes that are offered is an arcade mode. An arcade mode that makes me feel like I’m back in the arcade as a kid screaming (words that I don’t really know the meaning of both then and now) at a sword wielding image that is making some poorly written cheesy closing line that is good in the same way that danishes are. It’s bad for you and you should not be liking it but it’s buttery and flakey making you crave more.
So, the low point in this game is the graphics… except the game looks great. Seriously it’s very a pretty game but the character models seem to be a bit underwhelming unless they were made with the character creator. However, that is more of a nod to the character creator more than anything else. The only downside is that some fighters looked a bit generic but maybe that’s because some of these fighters are just so iconic and storied. However, the effects are really good looking. From the flames of Geralt’s Igni to the green flash of the Guard impacts, everything is displayed with vibrant execution. The effects are prominent enough that they work as great visual clues without overtaking the overall look. The stages are not complex or lacking any difference aside from look. They are very flat spaces. This being said they are very pretty. From cursed cathedral halls to a cliff side in a tranquil meadow, there’s nothing here that will break the mold.
But who plays fighters for the back drop? We want cool combatants crossing blades in a climatic theatrical display of fighting prowess, and hot diggity does it deliver. (What is a diggity?) Every fighter is approachable and feels wholly unique. Maxi and his nunchaku are fast and wild. Nightmare’s great sword swings are soul crushingly heavy. The combo system is less about 40 input long strings basing more on timing and positioning so if you hate long combo strings this is more your speed. The eight-way movement is handled very well so you always have an option no matter where you and your opponent are.
You have energy bars next to your health gauges and you can burn one of these to get to your ultimate attack. The ultimates are normally easy to block and highly telegraphed but are usable and are super flashy. Some take longer than others so the cinematics they do can start to wear; thankfully, they are all on the short side so the break in combat feels more like time to think rather than a complete halt to combat. A better option in most cases (in my opinion) is Soul charge this gives your fighter new combos, special moves, and new traits to old moves. A great example of this is the new comer Groh. One of my favorite fighters in the game, Groh, has a stance where he will separate his double-sided sword into 2 short swords. He has various attacks from this stance which is a great tool in or out of the soul charge. However, in soul charge he enters this stance and now you can teleport in front or behind your enemy and execute new moves only available off the soul charge teleports. This may sound complex, and it does require a bit of practice, but when you start landing these moves they feel great. This was one example of what opens up in soul charge. On top of the fore mentioned supers is the reversal edge system. This is a way to force a gamble on an opponent and possibly gain some breathing room. Be careful with this because it’s a swanky game of rock, paper, scissors where you have to guess how your opponent will react and play accordingly. This can back fire as you can get kicked off ledges or just lose your gamble taking extra damage. My biggest gameplay issue is the lack of tutorials. I have picked up a lot just by playing the story modes and arcade. Yet I feel that having a place to learn the basics and maybe a combo challenge mode where you must complete various combos on a training dummy would really help me figure out what I am doing wrong in some cases. It’s a minor complaint but a noteworthy one at the least.
The sound the game has is great and the voice acting is… well honestly delightfully bad. The sound of clashing steel and all that jazz is fine and dandy. Much like the graphics there is nothing to really write home about here. It’s very passable at worse and the average side of great at its best. One caveat here, and its paired with something I really liked, the voice acting is not great. The story mode of the individual baked in fighters and main story are all done through cheesy and poorly written stories. With each cannon character there’s a small story mode all their own and these vary from what feels like impactful events on the Soulcalibur lore to what is basically extended training sessions with more text screens that you can shake an “X to skip” button at. Paired up with this is the main story following Kilik, Maxi, and Xinuangiwhawha (I think that’s right) and their adventure to go get more milk from the evil dairy farmer Nightmare… or something like that. It’s a pretty basic formula of bad guys and good guy. It’s no one’s idea of a writing masterpiece. Somehow though the art and lame voice acting charmed me enough to not hate it even if I was more giggling at it then embracing it. The other game mode has you create your own fighter and go through a brand-new story centered around it. All the previous voice acting and silliness surrounding that applies here as well.
The creation tools are really quite good. Any quick search for “Soulcalibur creates a fighter” will show. I have seen every thing from Nixon to lizard men with huge wangs, actual magic karps that flop about rather convincingly to (you guessed it) more well-endowed lizard men. All these fighters can be taken online. This is where I encountered the previously mentioned exhibitionist reptile folk. They will always use a move set of one of the cannon fighters so balance is not much of an issue for these guys. Some get annoyed with this but I think it’s a magical way to bring some cheer to a game that can be rather rage inducing (as any vs game fan will tell you). Overall this game is a great introduction to fighting games. Any newcomers should love this and the depth you can get with the mobility of the 3D fighter and the various options as far as combos, super moves and modes, and the reversal edge mechanic will delight season vets as well.
The game lacks the wow factor a well-made story would bring and the lack of any real computer challenge outside of the hardest difficulty hit this game hard. Yet sound mechanics and flashy delivery is really hard to say no to. If you’re a fan of fighters or want to get into one that won’t make you remember 90 button long combos this game is EXACTLY what you want. If you just flat out don’t like fighters avoid this title as you will not enjoy this. It is a great fighter but it is a fighter, nothing more.
This is a tale of Souls, Swords and Screaming at that asshole who ledged me. You COWARD!!!!!!