Review: Soul Calibur VI
The tale of souls and swords has been retold, and is better than ever in Soul Calibur VI
Soul Calibur VI is the latest entry in Bandai Namco’s classic fighting franchise. Following in the steps of Tekken 7, Soul Calibur VI successfully updates the classic gameplay with new mechanics that mix well with the old ones.
Right off the bat the most obvious change is the shift in timeline. Soul Calibur has always advanced the story in each successive entry with older characters, newcomers who used retired fighters styles and a story-line that has spiraled away from the original cast.
Soul Calibur VI is essentially a reboot. Instead of advancing the story they decide to go backwards, and they set the game during the time period of the original Soul Calibur while also bringing fighters from the later games such as Tira and Zasalamel. The reboot theme is strong and carries into all elements of Soul Calibur VI. Characters, gameplay mechanics, and single player modes all feel familiar, but have enough new wrinkles to keep them fresh and exciting for the modern fighting fan.
Ever since Soul Calibur launched with the Dreamcast, the franchise has been on the forefront of great single player content. That hasn’t changed here at all. Featuring not just one, but two different and diverse story modes. Soul Chronicles is the more traditional story mode. It has a main plot line telling the tale of Soul Edge and Soul Calibur and all the drama they bring to the stage of history.
The main story takes place in a timeline and every single person on the roster gets their own individual chapters to play through that exist alongside the main plot. Overall the stories are really well made and do a decent job of moving Soul Calibur forward, just don’t expect tons of CG cut-scenes or even in game set pieces on the level of Tekken 7. The scope is a bit more limited in that respect.
The other main mode is called the Libra of Soul. Mixing a bit of the best of the previous entries modes all in one long, RPG narrative driven story. In Libra of Soul you must create a character and embark on a story-line that features moral choices. You move around a top down map from node to node and take on battles that harken back to the original games edge master mode.
Speaking of creating a character, create a soul returns and is incredibly diverse. It allows you to customize pre-made characters, except for the guest characters Geralt and the newly revealed 2b, or make a character from scratch.
Despite the depth it offers most of the gear pieces themselves disappoint. It has much less gear than five, and most of the gear it contains are just reused assets from the older games.
The custom characters are also causing problems right now with the competitive community because customs are allowed in ranked. This causes problems because the custom fighters can have very different hit-boxes which throws balance out the window. Players are making tiny Astaroths or super tall Talims and entire combos just won’t hit or work properly. Namco has already commented on this and I fully expect patches to make adjustments to this in the near future.
Outside of that the game runs fantastic. All versions are locked at 60fps and although most of the models are brought over from the older games, they use a lot of very nice looking post processing effects to dress them up. Big trails of lightning, flashy super attacks and weapons trails are all great to look at, while also not getting in the way of the action.
The sound and music is also stellar, with the narrator returning to add flavor and gravitas to every battle like he always has. A good soundtrack highlights all of the actions with some old favorites hidden away as secrets to discover.
Obviously the most vital part of any fighting game is the fighting itself. This is where Soul Calibur VI shines brightest. The classic 8 way run style is back and faster than it’s ever been. Every attack, parry and throw is lightning fast and incredibly responsive to the touch. Old mechanics like the guard parry and the super attacks are joined by the new soul charge and the most controversial new addition, the reversal edge.
Reversal edge acts like an auto parry, allowing you to absorb several hits and landing a shot that does some damage, then slows the action down as a rock paper scissors style mechanic plays out. The initial worry was that the flow of matches would be ruined by this new system and at first it can affect the flow of matches.
As time has gone on and the reversal edge has been explored a bit more, it doesn’t ruin the intensity and speed of the fights. It also has just as many counters and reads that add a fresh new layer to use for the mind games.
Soul Calibur VI has been great to play. Against friends old and new, in the various single player modes and even versus random opponents using all sorts of insane custom fighters online. The speed, gameplay and atmosphere has been returned back to its roots. Like the announcer says, it’s a tale of souls and swords, and it has thankfully been retold.