Friday, September 11, 2009

Broken Destiny And An Epiphany: Why Soul Calibur Sucks (And Always Has)

You may recall yesterday I wrote a review of Final Fantasy Dissidia, the game that shits all over the once good Final Fantasy series (even more than all the other recent Final Fantasy games shit on the series, I mean). That got me to wondering what other great series have been shat on by their developers, which led me to the PSP's Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, the newest installment in the series. While planning a review of Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny I suddenly had an epiphany. I was mad at Dissidia because I had hoped it could get me interested in the Final Fantasy series again. I wanted to get Dissidia. I didn't really want to get Broken Destiny, I just did. The fact is...

Soul Calibur is not a great video game series and it never has been.

No, really. Let's be totally honest here, the Soul series trudged in obscurity for six years from the time Soul Blade was released in 1996 to the time Soul Calibur 2 was released in 2002. Sure there were people who knew about it, but it wasn't until SC2 that the series really gained any fame and even then it was only thanks to a gimmick: the inclusion of guest fighters Link, Heihachi Mishima, and Spawn.

But the game that really put Soul on the map was Soul Calibur 3 and this was almost entirely because of one thing: character creation. Up to this point the video game industry as a whole had never really taken the concept of character creation seriously. It was there, sure. Sometimes it took the form of Final Fantasy's system of picking from pre-made characters and giving them names. Sometimes it was more like Dynasty Warrior's system of creating a character by combining a weapon and a character model with about 5 different options in each. More often it was along the lines of Champions of Norrath where you pick a class and a hair color. The only video games that really took character creation seriously were wrestling games. Here, for the first time, was a game that people would actually care about, that wasn't just a wrestling game, that had a character creation system that actually worked and wasn't just a shitty afterthought.

It's easy to say that Soul Calibur 4 and Broken Destiny squelched the good will that Soul Calibur 2 and 3 brought but the truth of the matter is those games should never have garnered that much fame to begin with. The series got attention thanks to gimmicks, there was never a decent game to go along with them. Don't get me wrong, I do like the storyline, but the Soul Calibur games lack gripping gameplay. I loved Soul Calibur 3 for the character creation and the story, but I never really enjoyed playing it. I didn't like the game, I just tolerated it because I liked the character creation system.

I'm sorry, Namco Bandai, it looks like the honeymoon is over. You really had something with the character creation system and the guest characters. It's too bad you only used them as a pathetic attempt to vitalize a shitty series instead of pairing them up with gameplay that was as innovative and fun as they were. I'm well aware that this isn't the end for you. You'll keep on making Soul Calibur games, just like Square keeps on making Final Fantasy games and just like Square you'll probably be successful, but your popularity will only go downhill from here. As for me, I think I'm going to jump ship now and say adieu, just as I did to Final Fantasy.


Thursday, September 10, 2009


It's time for another review and this time it's for the PSP fighting game Dissida: Final Fantasy. First off, let me just say what I liked about the game. The graphics are good, and I found the bravery system interesting. That's about it.

"But wait," you scream, your monocle and top hat sent flying dramatically from your head. "Are you saying you didn't like Dissidia?!"

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Allow me to explain by way of example. When Final Fantasy 3 was first released for the NES the main character was the Onion Knight, who happens to look like this. When they re-released the game recently for the Nintendo DS they gave the main character a name and a new look and made him Luneth. So when they made Dissidia they had Onion Knight represent Final Fantasy 3, and made the alternate costume...Luneth?

He has the hair, yeah, but why stop there, Square-Enix? Luneth has an established look, Square and you know what it is so why not use it? (Answer: Because Luneth is the gayest boy ever.) And it's not like you can't make a new character model for a character's alternate costume. Cloud, Squall, and Sephiroth have new character models.

But this is just symptomatic of the larger problem that Dissidia has. When I said Cloud, Squall, and Sephiroth have new models for their alternate looks I meant that Cloud, Squall, and Sephiroth are the only ones. Warrior of Light's alternate costume is colored red instead of blue. Cecil's alternate costume has red trim. Exdeath's alternate costume has the bright blue color on his armor set two points lighter. There are even rumors that they colored Jecht's skirt red in his alternate costume (as opposed to orange) because that was their way of adding Auron to the game. If that's not the saddest damn thing you've heard all day then thank you for reading this review, citizen of Ethiopia.

Look, I'm not so naive that I don't get how it works, okay? I understand Final Fantasy 7 is the money maker. People bought this game for Cloud and Sephiroth, not for anyone else, so it's natural that Square would spend more time on them. But that only works when they actually spend...well, any time on the rest of the game. If the game itelf was good but the FF7 part was better I could forgive that, but that's not what happened. The Final Fantasy 7 parts of the game are passable and the rest is practically non-existant.

Aside from the afore-mentioned bravery system which I won't go into detail on here there's very little to enjoy about this game. There's no real AI in the game, it's a Soul Calibur system where it auto-blocks and you only win because it occasionally decides not to. The fighting style is cool in concept but horrendously executed, mostly because of the poor AI. The storyline (singular because every character's story is the same) was clearly written by a bored stoner. I've already gone over the lack of effort put into character designs.

I guess what I'm saying is fuck you, Square-Enix and while I'm at it fuck you too, Sony. Yeah, this piece of shit game was definitely worth making a commemorative PSP.