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Gamescom 2011: Soul Calibur V

Soul Calibur is one of those fighting game series which has been happily chugging along for well over ten years now, refining its gameplay systems with each incarnation in order to remain relevant. The last installment of the series, Soul Calibur IV, dropped in 2008, a fair while ago, which would suggest that Namco Bandai has spent the intervening three years coming up with more ways to alter the newest entry in the series without changing it too much and alienating their core fanbase.

The latest trailer for the game, however, fresh from Gamescom 2011, would suggest that it’s a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The only real changes I can see are a graphical makeover for the characters and environments and more of a focus on ‘special moves’ which briefly pause the action in the style of Street Fighter’s Super and Ultra Combos. While the addition of special techniques is interesting, and will undoubtedly make battles a little more dynamic and exciting, I was disappointed by the overwhelming familiarity of what I saw. The vast majority of the environments shown in the trailer appear to be completely recycled from Soul Calibur IV and given a graphical facelift, suggesting that unless some new and interesting gameplay modes are introduced, this may be a title that only die-hard Soul Calibur fans will want to pick up. As enjoyable as Soul Calibur’s gameplay usually is, there is a limit to how many times I can enjoy smacking Raphael around an arena which I’ve seen hundreds of times before.  


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