Soul Calibur : Broken Destiny

With the mixed success of Soul Calibur on the PS3 and the Xbox 360, and the pedigree of good fighting games on the PSP, such as Darkstalkers, Mortal Kombat and Tekken, an iteration of Soul Calibur for the PSP seemed like a slam dunk.  Add in the ability to use Kratos as a playable character right out of the box, and this is a day one purchase to breathe life back into the PSP right?  Apparently some weird choices by Namco Bandai blocked that dunk, and left the player dazed and confused.

The Rundown

Soul Calibur : Broken Destiny for the PSP features 28 characters, including the new Dampierre and Kratos.  Each character has two costumes that can be chosen for fighting, but you can change those appearances with the carry over of Soul Calibur’s famed character creation.  Twelve slots are available for your reinventions of the original characters, or the characters you want to create on your own with a wealth of appearance and costume options-many of which become unlocked through the course of your gameplay as achievements.  The game has five game modes Quick Match, The Guantlet, Trials, Training and Versus.  Versus can only be played via Ad-Hoc, so if you had hoped for some online competition, you will miss out without a friend that owns a PSP and a copy of the game.  Quick Match is pretty self explanatory, and Training is a one on one practice forum where you can practice your moves with any character and set the AI for your opponent.  Oddly, The Guantlet is a similar mode where you progress through a loosely tied together story in a long set of matches where you have limited health and must bloack and counter to complete preset objectives in a 2 to 3 second time limit.  Trials is a survival mode that can be played in an Attack, Defense and Endless flavor, somewhat changing you gameplay to fit a more offensive of defensive playstyle.  Playing through the game will also unlock concept art and visuals, as well as costume elements to be used in the deep Creation system.

Impressions

OK, for the record Soul Calibur features easily some of the most vivid visuals on the the PSP to date, and the controls are poetry in motion.  Unfortunately, that is where the positives for the game end.  The Trials mode can be fun, but the absence of any type of ladder climbing single player campaign with an over-arcing story completely ruins the game.  True to any survival mode fashion, Trials also cannot be continued, so once you are downed you must restart without any saving of your progression.  The Guantlet is repetitive at best, and getting to the second level pretty much shows you all the mode has to offer.  Each round has you required to block one or more attacks with the need to counter using a very specific attack that you are not told.  The result produces an overwhelming desire to fling your PSP frisbee style and watch it shatter into pieces with each new match you advance to.  The character creation toolset is jaw-dropping, and a great source of entertainment-but without any enticing game modes to use your new creations in, you are left with a bittersweet symphony of rich instruments that will never be heard.  For me, Ad Hoc play just isn’t possible and the Quick Match and Training Modes just seem redundant–one without the other would have suited the player just fine as an avenue to familiarize yourself with different characters before taking them for a spin in the Campaign.  I guess, that is if a Campaign had been included.  We, at EDG, don’t use a rent or buy scale, but if we did, I would have to say that with this baffling omission Soul Calibur isn’t even worth the price of the inflated rental fees or the precious spot on your Gamefly cue.  Within an hour I had gotten all I could get out of the game, and it was boxed up ready to be sold back for credit.  Next time Namco, take Tekken : Dark Resurrection for a spin before you layout the design for your next portable Soul Calibur entry.  If you have a portable fighting itch to scratch, look elsewhere on the list of much better and much cheaper fighting games on the PSP.

[starreview tpl=46 size=’30’]

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