Soul Calibur is a little less popular title among the fighting games. Starting out under a different name Soul Edge, it has come a long way since. It was one of the games to make a more direct application of moving around a 3D stage and even included the use of a huge variety of melee weapons, making it stand out as a fighting game. Considering that we’re at the 6th Soul Calibur game, is it a good point for newcomers to come over and try it out? With it’s current offerings, whether or not you were familiar at all with this game; I certainly believe you can jump in and enjoy it on the PlayStation 4, regardless if you’re an avid veteran or a player with some budding interest for Soul Calibur. Why so? Let’s go ahead and break it down.
Production (3 / 5)
While other titles like Street Fighter, Guilty Gear, and Tekken have certainly raised the bar on what qualifies as AAA level graphics for fighters, Soul Calibur unfortunately seems to be a little behind on the update. The models clearly have been updated and that’s great but when it comes to lighting, special effects and at some point even textures didn’t seem to make the cut. We still have episodes of stiff hair, maybe underwhelming lighting. And that’s a shame considering how detailed the models appear to be, the fact that there’s even a feature where their clothes break is a testament of how meticulously these were prepared. The UI could be better, too, fortunately this doesn’t really get in the way but doesn’t really get people excited to play if the first things they had to see were these minimalist menus and 2D art.
However, compared to more visually impressive counterparts, Soul Calibur 6 is certainly no slouch when it comes to consistently good performance. Animations match well and feel responsive during gameplay, this makes combat feel crisp and for the most part and easy to understand. Frames never feel like they’re slowing down and that’s extremely important for fighters and to top it all off, it has the fastest load time I’ve seen in a while on PS4.
While I would certainly appreciate flashier looking effects and better details all over the game, it’s hard to complain about how smoothly the game performs. In the end I think the graphics does the job, but it’s nothing groundbreaking or impressive.
On the part of sound, music sounds fitting but generally nothing really stuck, maybe I’m just spoiled by Guilty Gear so I won’t really score it against them. There’s also the option of having English or Japanese voice, where I think both are fine.
Mechanics (4.5 / 5)
The last time I seriously picked up a Soul Calibur game was back during the arcade age and that was Soul Calibur 2, which reminds me of how old I am, but anyway; Getting into this one after such a long hiatus wasn’t really much of a challenge. Movement still felt the same and much of the commands still do the same thing they do. Having a four button format, it was easy to map out which does what. A quick but weak attack that was easy to land, a strong but slower attack, a kick button for more technical purposes and a block button. Honestly forgetting to hold the block button seems to be the common thing that kills newbies in this game, so remember that one.
Rather than requiring complex inputs that makes it look like your thumb is dancing on your controller, most moves require a directional and a combination of upto three buttons (thankfully you can make shortcuts on button configuration), making most of the command list easily accessible, other moves are available based how a character is stanced.
Actual combat reminds me of Bloody Roar (did I say I felt old, by the way?) where multi hit moves don’t just fully combo to the end and can branch out into different moves, making a melee engaging whether or not you’re giving or taking damage. Each character can also access a super which does what it says on the label, if they have a stock; or make use of a soul charge instead which enhances their moveset and, at the same time, serve as an escape option if cornered.
The newest mechanic for Soul Calibur would be ‘Reversal Edge,’ blocking most attacks while charging and once it hits causes a rock-paper-scissor clash between the two characters that has a lot more possible results that it lets on. I suppose it’s something like Focus Attack from SF4 or Guilty Gear Xrd. It certainly is an interesting function and doesn’t overpower the game with its weaknesses.
Long story short, it’s not too complicated to learn for people trying it for the first time and at the same time it has enough new things in it to keep more seasoned players on their toes.
Content (5 / 5)
The character roster for this title is quite robust, most of them familiar with two new additions and Geralt as a guest character. These days, that’s basically all of your content for a fighting game, save for maybe some additional costumes or challenges. But not for this game, Soul Calibur 6 would very much want to keep giving you what it has been for many years.
One of them would be the story mode, which would be perfect for anyone who’s just getting into the game if they’re up to learn about the story and lore of the universe. It’s pretty simple and paced with some casual fights here and there to keep yourself from being a passive audience the entire time. Everybody is playable on the same timeline so it’s easy to put things together in the broad strokes.
Then there would be Libra of Soul, basically a custom campaign mode where you make your own character and follows a story based on your choices, you level up to increase your stats and it’s possible for you to move to stronger weapons as you defeat stronger opponents. This is probably one of the more interesting modes for me, personally.
Also, there’s a custom creation mode where you can make your own character with a vast set of options. I decided to try to make a robot version of a certain orange ninja but didn’t get very far, this takes a good amount of patience, it turns out. And some SP, which you grind for.
And finally there’s my favorite arcade mode, which doesn’t have a final boss but does what it needs to do in general. You fight 8 characters consecutively ending with Geralt, where the AI constantly ramps up difficulty as you progress. Easy to understand, easy to play.
Features (3 / 5)
Typically your fighting game will have an online feature allowing you to fight anyone across the globe so long as your connection allows it, Soul Calibur has you covered there. A bit more interesting is the fact that you can show off and share your custom creations to other players. So fighting an unofficial version of characters from other franchises will definitely be a thing once this is released.
A season pass is already available though upcoming characters for the game isn’t exactly clear yet. I’m willing to bet there’ll be more Tekken guests and maybe tie ups from willing participants. Though to be perfectly honest, the game already feels like a full one with or without the DLC.
Soul Calibur 6 feels like one of the older games and not just because of my complaints about it’s visuals. Many fighters these days are generally just characters and bare essentials with a strong focus on online multiplayer. This title decides to keep it a bit more old school and give some pretty engaging single-player offerings for those that aren’t really in it to play against any willing participant around the world. It’s actually pretty refreshing.
Like games during the PS1 and 2 era it’s possible to enjoy the game whether or not you’re looking to play this with friends, strangers or by yourself. The bells and whistles of online play is treated as that, something you can do among other possible activities with the game.
Soul Calibur 6 is a standalone game without having to depend on external factors to be something you can enjoy, it knows what it is and isn’t trying to be someone else to impress you better. So whether it’s going to be a couch session with friends, intensive combat online or just quiet ‘me time.’ It’s ready to give you something suitable.
Soul Calibur 6 is a fine swashbuckling fighter landing a respectable 3.9 / 5
Available on PS4, X1 and PC.