“Soul Calibur VI” is an excellent fighting game that will bring enjoyment to old fans of the series and new players alike. Fiercely competitive gameplay, beautiful visuals and a deep, varied list of fighters make this a worthy successor to the Soul fighting-game franchise. If someone has never played a “Soul Calibur” game before, this game is an excellent introduction to the series, and stands alone very well.
The “Soul Calibur” series started with Soul Edge in 1996, then adopted the Soul Calibur name for the second title. This makes “Soul Calibur VI” the sixth game to carry the Soul Calibur name, and the seventh game overall in the main series. The Soul Calibur name has always harkened to greatness, and SCVI lives up to its pedigree.
SCVI is a fighting game. This means that two characters are pitched into a one-on-one fight to deplete the opponent’s health bar by landing brutal attacks in quick succession, called combos, and unleashing a powerful special move, called a Critical Edge, to deal massive damage or knock the opponent out of the map. Players can either sit beside each other, sharing the same screen, or they can connect to each other over the internet and play from a world away. While fighting games are normally played by two people, SCVI does have several single player modes that pit the player against AI opponents of increasing difficulty.
Each character in SCVI has their own distinct moveset to learn and combos to master. Characters also have a weapon that determines their attacking speed and range. Large, slow axes and short-ranged, but exceptionally fast nunchucks are just a couple of the options for characters. Learning the strengths and weaknesses of a characters moveset is a sure path to victory!
SCVI’s movesets are much more beginner friendly than many other fighting games on the market. Other fighting games, such as “Street Fighter,” require long, precise inputs done over a short period of time. SCVI breaks that mold. Instead of a string of buttons to press one at a time over an extremely short window, SCVI uses multiple buttons pressed at once to choose the next attack. On the surface, this means that the coolest moves aren’t locked behind twitchy fingers, but instead can be used by anyone who understands the move list. At a higher competitive level, a combo can be changed midway through to adapt to an opponent much more easily. There is no pushing through an entire combo and watching sadly as the opponent defeats all effort by simply blocking.
Another huge difference between SCVI and most other fighting games is the movement. Most fighting games play on a 2D stage. The only movements are toward the opponent and away. SCVI, however, is played on a 3D stage. This means that attacks can be side-stepped or juked, and defending from an attack is just as dynamic as the attack itself.
To complement SCVI’s differences in style are the controls themselves. Very responsive attacks, blocks, and movements mean that, when an adjustment in strategy is necessary, the character adapts as quickly as it is told. Crisp button response is combined with a large combo window to ensure that staying on the offensive feels good. Defending is just as responsive, which can make a round look less like a melee and more like a graceful dance.
Watching SCVI feels just as good as playing it. The “Soul Calibur” series is known for having beautiful and detailed character models and attacks that are visually distinct when the gameplay gets hectic. There is a complaint that is often made regarding wardrobe choices, especially regarding female characters. Often, the females are considered to be over-sexualized, especially in regards to the characters Ivy and Taki, and this game continues the trend. However, if a player does not like the way a character looks, SCVI has one of the most robust character creation modes of any fighting game. All a player has to do is choose the fighting style of their choice, then build a model that they feel most comfortable with, almost from the ground up. Custom characters can even be used in online play.
The arenas, or maps, in SCVI, are also distinct from other fighting games. Where most games simply use the map as a background, each map in SCVI is functionally different from each other. A variety of different areas, from a moonlit grove of withered trees to the snow-capped peak of a mountain, offer gorgeous views and each requires its own strategy to succeed in, especially due to SCVI’s ring out mechanic. Ringing an opponent out is a victory condition in which kicking the opponent off the stage results in a victory. Some maps have no ring out, other have a specific area or conditions that must be met, and some maps are simply open on all sides. Keeping the map’s advantages and disadvantages in mind is an important part of seizing victory and adds depth to the overall gameplay.
For all the praise of the game, there are a couple issues with loading screens and load times. Character selection can lag behind slightly if characters are scrolled through too quickly. Getting into a match can also take a little longer than one would expect, but not by a large amount. However, these are small nitpicks and are overshadowed by how well the game plays overall.
“Soul Calibur VI” deserves every recommendation it receives, and is receiving another one right now. The gameplay is distinct enough from other fighting games that it is not just another entry into the genre. The controls are easy to grasp and hard but rewarding to master. The visuals are amazing, both for characters and maps, and the character creation is almost limitless. The game retails for $59.99 and can be found on Amazon and Steam and at most local retailers.