I was seriously looking forward to Soul Calibur V before its release last month. I’ve been a huge fan of the Soul series since their first entry (not counting Soul Edge), and have a ton of fun memories playing with my friends in a number of “loser passes the controller” sessions, starting with Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast. So in this iteration there were promises of better combat and gameplay, amped graphics, better character customization, and finally a decent guest character in Assassin’s Creed’s Ezio Auditore. All pluses in my mind. I went so far as to order the collector’s edition with a gift card I had so I could get the art book and soundtrack (as I love me some game art books). I should have noticed, however, that while listing all the great new features, a great story was not mentioned.
So I cracked it open and the loaded up the story mode. It opened with a gorgeous cinematic, which was great for one main reason – and that was that the majority of what followed as “story” was not much more than sketched stills in sepia tones instead of full motion video between fights. It follows the current story of Soul Edge and Soul Calibur, walking you through it as Patrokolos — Sophitia’s son, Pyrrha’s brother, and the new series protagonist. You switch characters every few rounds. This gave me some hope that maybe they finally did story mode right, forcing the player to get a taste of playing with every character, but sadly I was wrong. After the culmination of story mode in episode 20, I had only played with Patrokolos, Pyrrha, (and their variants) and Z.W.E.I.. Sigfried and Nightmare acted as fightable NPC’s along with a slew of generic “custom” created characters. The story is mainly driven by Tira, with cameos were made some of the other characters in one or two of the still shots and that is it.