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Friday, Feb. 3, 2012

Soulcalibur V

7.0 out of 10

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“Crossing swords is the best way to know someone.” ~ Sigfreid

“No it isn't.” ~ Ken Brosky

Well, another Soulcalibur is finally out. Do we all care? A little. I've always had a soft spot for the franchise, especially the third and fourth games, which were played in a drunken state with friends who swore like sailors. The fifth game … well, it's mostly the same, for better and worse.

The story mode, as always, is horrible. Unlike the previous games, you have to stick with a specific character named Patroklos (and a couple others, occasionally). Patroklos doesn't like to be called a murderer despite the fact that he murders a lot of people. He's our hero, remember. Personally, I would have rather played more as the guy with the werewolf friend. Patroklos is annoying and brash. I hate him.

Oh, and instead of cut-scenes? Still images. It's 2012 and Soulcalibur is throwing still images our way? Jee-zus. At least the still images are faded to look like old scraps of ancient paper from the 17th century. Too bad the characters in the still images are drawn like an anime from the 21st.

The dialogue is awful, too. One of the characters is clearly Japanese, even though the story takes place in Western Europe. Also, there's a character named Z.W.E.I., which is a name that makes no sense. No, I'm not running out of gripes here. I could go on and on. I could mention the bizarre story itself, a tale of revenge and cocky gamesmanship. Is it a rule that all Japanese games have to be convoluted and pointless? I'm starting to lose hope.

None of this matters, ultimately, because one of the joys of Soul Caliber has always been Arcade Mode. And Arcade Mode, as it stands, is still lots of fun. The graphics are good—not outstanding by any means—and the music is tolerable. You'll find Nightmare at the end of your quest, which is kind of a letdown after all the other end bosses from the previous games. Still, it's a minor gripe.

Want to build your own character? No prob. You'll have plenty of options to do it. Need a special sword-wielding lady with big breasts? Have at it, cowboy. For those of you not interested in experimenting with pixilated perversions and want to create your own character whose sole aim is to be awesome, you can do that, too.

Play online. Play those mildly addictive challenges. Enjoy the Arcade Mode. Don't get too caught up in the fact that some of your favorite characters need to be unlocked—you'll get that done while you're having fun with the best parts of the game.

Soulcalibur Philosophy

The narrator of Soulcalibur always has some thoughtful things to say before battle starts. Here are some personal favorites:

* The ring and the shield clash in the quiet night

* A single drop may send a ripple through the currents of destiny.

* The Raven laughs.

* Even when severely wounded, the true victor never gives up.

* You must know pain in order to gain knowledge.

* Keep hope close, for it may not be there on your journey.