|Publisher(s)||Namco Bandai Games|
Soulcalibur V (ソウルキャリバーV SōruKyaribā Faibu?) is a video game developed and released by Namco Bandai Games for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2012. The sixth main installment in Namco's Soul series of fighting games, Soulcalibur V is the follow-up to Soulcalibur IV and retains the weapon-based combat that characterizes the series but follows a new character, Patroklos, who aims to rid his sister of a curse brought upon her by an ancient weapon. The game was positively received but was often criticized for the removal of many iconic characters from the earlier games in the series and its lackluster story mode.
Like the previous games in the series, Soulcalibur V is a weapon-based fighting game. Players use high and low vertical and horizontal attacks to damage opposing player characters and can block incoming attacks or parry enemies' moves to gain a tactical advantage. The game features a tweaked "Critical Edge" system, allowing players to fill up a meter and unleash powerful special attacks.
The game features a variety of gameplay modes. In Story Mode, players take control of the game's protagonist Patroklos and various supporting characters, guiding him through a series of battles divided into 20 episodes. Unlike previous installments, not every character is playable in Story Mode. The game's arcade mode allows players to control any of the game's characters and face six opponents in time trial matches. In addition, the game features Quick Battle mode, which allows players to unlock titles for their online profiles and an extra "Legendary Souls" mode. Like its predecessors, Soulcalibur V also sports variety of multiplayer modes, allowing players to face each other both online and offline. The character creation mode from previous games has also been retained.
The game takes place 17 years after the events of Soulcalibur IV and centers around the children of Soul series veteran Sophitia. The protagonist is her son Patroklos and his estranged sister Pyrrha is a supporting character. The two siblings journey across Europe in an attempt to rid Pyrrha of the "malfestation", a curse that is bestowed upon whoever comes into contact with the evil weapon Soul Edge.
The game features 28 playable characters, including 10 characters that are new to the series. The new characters include two versions of Pyrrha and Patroklos. The game also introduces the mysterious Z.W.E.I. as well as Viola, a fortune teller. Several new characters use the fighting styles of previous characters in the series: Taki's student and successor Natsu, Xianghua's daughter Yan Leixia and Xiba, who uses Kilik's fighting style.
The game's guest character is Ezio Auditore da Firenze from Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. The game also features a number of returning characters, such as Siegfried, Voldo, Ivy, Raphael, Tira, Maxi, Algol, Mitsurugi, Hilde, Kilik, Cervantes, and Nightmare. Dampierre, who first appeared in Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny, became a playable character.
A petition for Soulcalibur V posted on Facebook caught the attention of Katsuhiro Harada, producer of Namco's Tekken series. He accepted suggestions and promised to lobby on behalf of fans for the creation of a new Soulcalibur game. The game was teased as early as 2010, when game director Daishi Odashima tweeted "SC is back!". On December 25, 2010, a new Soul series project was announced to be under way, led by a new director. In late April 2011, Odashima tweeted again saying "Hopefully I will be able to announce something mid May." Soulcalibur V was officially announced by Namco Bandai on May 11, 2011.
Development of the game's story mode was outsourced to CyberConnect2, developers of the Capcom game Asura's Wrath. The story was originally planned to be four times longer, but was cut back because of time and manpower restraints.
Pre-order bonuses included the playable character Dampierre from Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny. A collector's edition of Soulcalibur V was released along with the standard edition in a book-like package containing the game, CD game music soundtrack, art book, making-of DVD, and exclusive White and Dark Knight character creation downloadable content.
Namco has released additional downloadable content for the game. The first "Launch Day" pack includes a set of character customization items described as "exotic" as well as music from Soul Edge and Soulcalibur. The Valentine’s Day February 14 pack includes customization items described as "fearsome", along with music from Soulcalibur II and Soulcalibur III. The February 28 pack includes more customization items and music from Soulcalibur IV and Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny. The music tracks are also available individually. Further DLC packs were announced and planned to be released once a month.
Critical reception of Soulcalibur V was generally positive with average Metacritic scores of 77 (Xbox 360) and 81 (PS3). Jose Otero of 1UP.com criticized the story mode, but was overall positive in its review, stating that the game "reinvents the series again". Adam Biessener of Game Informer called it "the best Soulcalibur ever." On the other hand, IGN's Steven Lambrechts wrote that Soulcalibur V "feels like more of the same" and was disappointed by the game, especially criticizing its story mode. According to the review by Jordan Mallory of Joystiq, Soulcalibur V "is simultaneously one of the best Soul Calibur games ever made, as well as the worst Soul Calibur game ever made."
Besides the lackluster story mode, an often-repeated point of criticism was the absence of many of the series' stalwart characters such as Sophitia, Cassandra, Taki, and Seong Mi-na. As of June 2012, the game had sold 1.38 million units worldwide, a relatively low amount compared to 2.3 million copies of Soulcalibur IV that were sold during the first eight months after the previous game's release.
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