Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny ReviewBy Brian Leahy - Posted Aug 31, 2009
PSP-toting fans of Soulcalibur will want to pick this game up, especially if they are looking for a way to practice their skills on the go, since the gameplay is so similar to Soulcalibur IV. Newcomers will get a bit more out of the game's tutorial mode, but it isn't the most fully-featured introduction to the series. Namco Bandai should get credit for nailing the fantastic gameplay, but could have added a bit more content to the game.
- Flawless fighting engine
- Large character roster
- Kratos Playable!
- Lack of gameplay modes
- "Story" is weak, presented in tutorial
- Cannot customize quickplay or multiplayer experience.
The Soulcalibur franchise goes portable for the first time, bringing a version to the PlayStation Portable that is light on features, but thankfully comes packed with console-quality gameplay.
The Soul Still Burns, Though Slightly Smaller This Time...
There have been plenty of fighting games for the PSP over the platform’s lifespan, but it’s been a field dominated by 2D fighters and remakes. Namco Bandai brings its popular Soulcalibur franchise to Sony’s portable with great results. Featuring a roster of 28 characters unlocked from the start, Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny also features God of War’s Kratos and an all-new character, Dampierre. Additionally, the character creation tool from Soulcalibur IV -- albeit in limited scope -- makes the jump to the handheld as well. Players will be able to create 16 custom characters, down from Soulcalibur IV’s 50, and equipment, which can be broken in battle, is cosmetic and will not affect stats.
You Will Be Surprised How Smooth This Plays
Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny’s gameplay is fantastic. The fighting engine runs at a crisp 60fps and never drops below that magic number. Thankfully, Soulcalibur’s gameplay style is perfectly suited for the PSP’s d-pad or analog nub because it is mostly focused on pressing the face buttons and less on directional inputs. At no point did I feel like the PSP hardware was impeding my ability to play the game, unlike so many 2D fighters on the platform.
The graphics are great with beautiful backgrounds and high quality character models. Sure, they don’t pack the same number of polygons as the next-gen models from Soulcalibur IV, but the developers were able to retain the fluid animations that define the series. The audio is the game’s technical low-point, with the announcer sounding tinny and the sound effects not hitting the same quality bar as the graphics or gameplay. Load times are speedy, even without the optional 250 megabyte data install.
All Your Favorites... Oh, And Kratos
One of the first things to take a hit on a portable version of a fighting game is usually the character roster. That isn’t the case with Broken Destiny, which touts 28 playable characters including two platform exclusives, Kratos and Dampierre. Kratos transitions well into the roster, since his moveset from the God of War series fits well into a 3D fighter. He’s not balanced, but how often are platform-exclusive guest characters? Kratos has a lot of range with his Blades of Chaos and has some powerful combos and juggles. Dampierre, on the other hand, is balanced better and plays a lot like Voldo. He has a few options while lying on the ground, including a devastating throw that includes a lot of face punching. It is hard to get a real sense of his place in the universe, however, because the game does not include a story mode.
Who Needs Modes When You Look This Good?
Broken Destiny features a small selection of gameplay modes and could have benefitted greatly from a story mode or a few more options. As it stands, players get a quickplay mode that presents gamers with a choice of who they would like to fight from a stable of AI players, all with different win/loss ratios and characters. There are three “Trial” modes that score players based on sustained offense, counterattacking, and a scored survival mode. The non-canonical story is presented through “The Gauntlet”, a chapter-based tutorial mode that teaches series newcomers the basics of offense and defense in Soulcalibur. Veterans will quickly grow tired of this mode, its “Saturday morning cartoon” story, and its 42 chapters. I guess the developers named this “The Gauntlet” because running through it results in nothing but pain and suffering.
Ad-Hoc multiplayer is available for those of you that get another player within Wi-Fi range, but Infrastructure play would have been a welcome addition. I am happy to report that the netcode is flawless and the gameplay was perfectly synced between the two PSPs in our playtesting. Sadly, players will not be able to customize the multiplayer experience. All matches will be best 3-out-of-5 quick matches with blind character selection. The game does keep track of your win-loss record against your friends, however.
Finally, there are a handful of “honors” to unlock through playing the game’s modes and meeting certain conditions in battle (“Win by ring out”, “Execute a 7+ hit combo”). It’s a soft achievement system, but a nice bonus.
PSP-toting fans of Soulcalibur will want to pick this game up, especially if they are looking for a way to practice their skills on the go, since the gameplay is so similar to Soulcalibur IV. Newcomers will get a bit more out of the game’s tutorial mode, but it isn’t the most fully-featured introduction to the series. Namco Bandai should get credit for nailing the fantastic gameplay, but could have added a bit more content to the game.