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I'm not competitive, so I really have no right to give an opinion on this, but from what I hear competitive players find SC 5 to be the most balanced yet, and I admit this is a very good thing.
Unfortunately, for the rest of us, it seems the dev team put 90% of their effort into that, leaving only 10% for the single player... that's really the only excuse for how it turned out.
The review below did a good job of summing up the general appeal of the Soul Series' story. For those who enjoyed that... you won't find much of it here. Firstly, let's adress the most notable part: the story has had a massive Time Skip, and many characters we used to know and love are now gone. Their fighting styles live on in Expies of them though. Some may cry They Changed It, Now It Sucks at this, but I don't believe this is inherently bad in itself... unfortunately, wiping the cast clean makes the main problem with the story more glaring than it would have been.
Put simply, out of a still quite large cast of characters, the story mode only revolves around two of them: Sophitia's children Patroklos and Phyrra. And granted, their story isn't bad by any means... but it's very clearly their story and theirs alone. I think you can see the problem with this: any character who is NOT one of those two ends up massively underdeveloped. It's almost laughable how the story mode treats them. All the Asian characters get one chapter that's nothing more than a glorified cameo. They still get off better than Astaroth, who suddenly fights you in the forest as if he were an RPG random encounter, and is never seen again afterward. Even Former major characters like Seigfried are reduced to this fate. So most of the new characters' personalities, origins and goals are reduced to All There in the Manual and nothing more.
It's very clear that the story mode we actually got was supposed to be only one part of a greater tale, but they didn't have time for the rest. Most "cutscenes" take the form of slideshows of what can only be early storyboard sketches. It ends on your typical super cheap final boss, and gives closure to the siblings' stories but no-one else's. It also introduces a fairly awkward twist that doesn't fit the established mythos well.
A shame, because they had the potential for something amazing here.
The Soul Calibur series is a franchise of 3D weapon-based fighting games. At their hearts, the games use a very simple control system. Each character has three attacks- Horizontal, Vertical, and Kick. From these three moves, along with the ability to freely move around the opponent and guard, each character can execute almost 100 moves.
The Soul Series has the absolute most complicated storyline of almost any fighting game, but it pretty much all boils down to "get sentient Artifact Of Doom Soul Edge", "get sentient Empathic Weapon Soul Calibur", or "destroy Soul Edge". While it's helpful to know the storyline (and Soul Calibur 4 includes a handy relationship chart), you don't really need to know anything specific to follow the game.
The series is also famous for its characters. Generally, the male characters are LargeHams, and the females are either Stripperiffic Lolicon or Stripperiffic with Most Common Super Power. Highlights include soul-draining zombie pirate Cervantes, his daughter Ivy, the genuinely creepy blind and insane contortionist Voldo, the Soul Calibur-wielding Siegfried, and his former Superpowered Evil Side, the Soul Edge-wielding Nightmare.
The third and fourth games have a Character Customization mode. You can even recostume the default characters.
The games usually include bonus characters from other series. The second game included Link, Spawn, and Heihachi; the fourth included Darth Vader, Yoda, and the Apprentice.
The games are surprisingly newbie-friendly; a Button Masher can do decently. All the games include longer modes that require very large amounts of skill; in the earlier games The Computer Is A Cheating Bastard. However, with training, a player can string together long combos and pull off very flashy attacks.
The series is very addictive, since all twenty-something characters fight very differently (for the most part), and it takes a good amount of time to perfect any of them.
In general: The Soul Series is a great, intense fighting game franchise with a convoluted storyline. Highly recommended.
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