SoulCalibur VI - Review
SoulCalibur VI is a bit old and a bit new, taking the best of both adjectives. By squinting at experienced gamers, it solves some of the problems of its predecessor - which had caused its premature disappearance from the esports scene and, consequently, from home screens. But it is also new because it follows the example of other successful titles of the genre, presenting innovations in the mechanics that aim to approach an audience hitherto discouraged by the steep learning curves of "classic" fighting games.
The saga was born at the time of the first PlayStation with Soul Blade (western version of Soul Edge), in 1995. It then changed its name in 1998, becoming Soulcalibur and platform (the following year), entering the Sega Dreamcast catalog. The fighting game series with white weapon then continued with other chapters and spin-offs, coming however - as mentioned - to a setback after the release of SoulCalibur V.
This new chapter offers various game modes that reflect the tradition of a saga, as mentioned, very attentive to the single player. In addition to the great classics (training, arcade, versus), there is a rich Museum - a gallery of texts and images relating to the series, which looks at both the present and the past - and the now canonical Creation, with which to modify the appearance of the game's protagonists or forge new fighters (using the styles and weapons of the main characters). In the latter mode, more options have been given to players than in the past, with the addition of selectable races which, while not giving any bonus / malus, allow a greater degree of customization.
As for online play, classic ranked and player matches are available - the latter with customizable settings and the ability to create open or private rooms. Difficult to talk about the quality of the netcode at the moment: from the network test the game appeared rather fluid, with some smudging from time to time. The only two imperfections noted so far concern the waiting times for games and the lack of accuracy of the connection quality indicators. It will be necessary to wait for the official release in stores for a more detailed opinion on the matter.
The Chronicles of the Soul mode gives us the opportunity to follow the events of the main vein of the story - remake of the first SoulCalibur - focusing on the road that leads Kilik, Xianghua and Maxi to the cursed sword, but also to discover the role that the other characters they played more or less directly in this affair. The nostalgia of the old players is whetted properly, while the newcomers are given all the elements to get back on track, without the feeling of having missed something.
The narrative, while not shining for originality, manages to convey the atmosphere of war and decadence that permeates the sixteenth century - as it was repainted by the Project Souls team, of course. The game, for easily understandable reasons, can only lead to almost every encounter in a fight and this undoubtedly does not help to break the monotony; if nothing else, however, the characters manage to bring out the sides of their personality until now remained in the background: we understand, now more than ever, the sense of duty and goodness of Sophitia, a little baker placed in front of a destiny greater than her, as well as the good-natured arrogance of Mitsurugi, always looking for new opponents but not paying attention to the small details that could reveal the way to go. All accompanied by good quality illustrations.
The balance of the soul completes the single player sector very well. This is the main mode of the game which, not surprisingly, was placed first in the menu (in fact there is a tutorial for new players inside). The player must create his own alter ego and then follow him on a journey parallel to the one narrated in the Chronicles, but no less interesting. As per tradition, it will be possible to move on the world map, visiting the most significant places in the series: the temple of Hephaestus in Athens, the Ostrheinsburg Castle, the ruins of Clan Manji and so on.
The mode draws on the RPG genre to add extra mechanics, which are absolutely non-invasive and well-matched with the overall vibe of the title. In addition to the main story, it will be possible to carry out secondary missions, through which to obtain rewards: gold coins (the currency of the game), weapons and food (able to confer temporary bonuses during a single fight). Some of these will concern the protagonists of the main cast, revealing some more information about them. After each move or fight performed, the map will update showing new tasks outside the main route: to reach them, just start an exploration and, paying the cost of the trip in gold, you can go around accumulating treasures and experience (useful for increase your level and, consequently, the health available during the clashes).
During the journeys we can end up prey to ambushes by mysterious fighters - further earning opportunities, if exploited properly - which force us to plan the routes without exaggerating the distances to be covered. It is possible to change the type of weapon equipped at any time - so you are not bound to "copy" the style of a single character in the main cast. To limit randomness (a much appreciated gesture), secondary fights will almost always result in weapons of the style used during the fight. Within the cities it will then be possible to find shops where to buy or upgrade weapons or get special foods. Then completing secondary missions around the town will make him level up, expanding or improving the catalogs available to merchants. Following the tradition of the series, the clashes in this mode can present conditions different from the norm (some types of attacks enhanced / weakened, slippery floor, and so on and so forth).
The information on the characters of the cast obtained in the Libra of the Soul is then automatically inserted into the precise and ordered chronology of the Chronicles, providing an even more complete picture of all the events: a real history book of SoulCalibur that will surely make content all fans of the series. Confirming what our Marco said in his recent preview, the saga has returned to grant a leading role to the single player, with a much higher "offline" longevity compared to the average fighting game.