At the time of writing this post, it is Monday the 22nd of October. Soulcalibur VI was released on Friday the 19th and quite honestly, I’m still getting over how impressed I am with the game. Obviously, I knew that the game was going in the right direction from all of the previews and teasers that showed off a more nostalgic character roster harking back to SC, SCII and SCIII but I deliberately held off on knowing too much which may be why I was so pleasantly surprised when I had the actual game in my hands at long last.
In short, this game feels a lot closer to SCII and SCIII as far as I’m concerned. More competitive players might feel otherwise but as somebody who has heavily enjoyed the series from the very beginning, I feel qualified to say that. I absolutely abhorred the reinvention that was SCV so it is absolutely joyful to discover that – Critical Edge ‘super’ moves aside – literally everything about that game has been chucked into the dumpster, hopefully in the most unceromonious way possible.
Gone are the new characters and descendants/disciples that nobody asked for in the first place. Gone are all the new gameplay mechanics that they introduced for SCV. Those super moves are still cinematic and damaging but this time, they don’t feel quite so decisive and the meter that governs their use appears to fill at a more sedate pace. There is also some single-player content this time in the form of a main story mode and a secondary story mode which involves some levelling-up, side-missions and attractive production value. I haven’t gotten anywhere near finishing the latter yet but it feels like it could take some time so that’s nice.
I’m also extremely satisfied to see the classic Guard Impact feature return with no restriction. SCV made GI a meter-dependant technique which (in my opinion at least) killed the gameplay. Guard Impact was always about mastering the timing and committing to that risk vs reward element just like with the parrying in Street Fighter III. It separated button-mashers from practiced players and was a staple of the series so it is fantastic to have it back in a free-to-use capacity.
Overall it simply feels like the development team have poured a lot of love into Soulcalibur VI. I have read that this game NEEDS to do well at retail or Namco-Bandai may very well can the series once and for all. SCV wasn’t ‘supposed’ to happen after all and only saw the light of day due to internal resistance to the idea of the series being put away in storage. It then sold poorly so perhaps Project Soul were permitted to make this game more to their tastes as opposed to reinventing Soulcalibur again in accordance to the wishes of marketing men.
The only negatives I have to report so far are pretty minor niggles. ‘Soul Points’ (used to ‘pay’ for unlocking certain customisation parts) are pretty tough to earn offline and the 5000 Gold > 100SP exchange rate within the Libra of Soul mode is pretty rough. I have no doubt that Soul Points are easier to earn by playing online (it’s usually the case with any of these reward systems in modern fighting games) but as I don’t actually have a Playstation Plus sub, I can’t comment on that side of things right now. The other mini-moan is directed at the character creator mode itself and the fact that the bulk of the parts are exactly the same as those we have been using to build characters with for several generations of SC games now. Some fresh bits and pieces would have been nice.
Those small issues aside, I’m loving this game. It’s been great to leap back in with my ‘main’ – Sophitia – and instantly get back into the groove with all of her well-practiced moves. I intend to learn Zasalamel and Tira next since those are two more of my favourites, Zasalamel in particular being a character that I wished for pre-reveal but didn’t expect to actually see in SCVI given that this game takes place before SCIII (Zasalamel’s debut). I’m guilty of being a cynical old git when it comes to modern gaming so the fact that SCVI has exceeded my expectations and shocked me with how much it appeals to the SC series veteran in me feels like a small miracle, especially following SCV which I didn’t think I would ever get over.
Stay tuned and I will get some pictures up soon of the collector’s edition (European version).