Review: Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny
Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny is more or less a port, in terms of gameplay, of Soulcalibur IV, except with the inclusion of Kratos from God of War rather than the Star Wars characters. So the question is: does the PlayStation Portable pack the goods to deliver a solid SoulCalibur fighting experience as it did with Tekken?
- Worth The Time?Yes to hardcore Soul Calibur fans, especially with PSP buddies, otherwise no.
- Things LovedThe developers have done a great job of porting the gameplay to the PSP, the fantastic graphics, the admirable character roster, Kratos.
- Things HatedWith no option to alter the difficulty setting the game can become frustratingly hard at times, the weak single player mode and the complete lack of online features can make the appeal short-lived, many features and options have been neglected.
- RecommendationSoul Calibur fans who want to hone their skills on the go or have friends with PSPs could definitely get some value out of this, especially with Kratos included. But the weak single player and lack of online features make it difficult to recommend a full price purchase.
- Name: Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny
- Genre: Fighting
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Ad Hoc (2 players)
- Platforms: PSP Exclusive
- Developer: Project Soul
- Publisher: Namco Bandai
- Price: R300
- Reviewed On: PSP
The Soulcalibur series has always been immensely popular as it continuously manages to deliver an intense and satisfying fighting experience. It’s easy to classify it as one of the top fighting games around. The last time we saw a Soul Calibur game was the highly acclaimed, next-gen adaption, Soul Calibur IV, which featured the playable Star Wars characters. Now, we’ve been given Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny, which is more or less a port (in terms of gameplay) of Soulcalibur IV, with the inclusion of Kratos from God of War rather than the Star Wars characters. So the question is: Does the PlayStation Portable pack the goods to deliver a solid (SoulCalibur) fighting experience as it did the likes of Tekken? To find out the verdict, read on below.
Like all previous Soulcalibur games, Broken Destiny is a 3D, one-on-one fighting game that has you battle against your opponents, using weapons such as swords, axes and hammers (depending on your character), in varied, large open arenas. It’s a fighting game that requires knowledge of your character, correct timing in using your moves and careful monitoring of your location in the arena – as you can instantly lose a round if you’re smashed or thrown out of the fighting ring.
Generally speaking regarding fighting games: the story is of very little importance, but it still manages to be somewhat, vaguely evident throughout the single player campaign. That’s not the case with Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny, as there is practically no story at all (well technically it does have a story, but not one that fits into the Soulcalibur universe), let alone a decent single player campaign. Upon starting the game, the player will have access to four single player modes, namely Quick Match, The Gauntlet, Trial and Training. The Gauntlet fits as Broken Destiny’s single player campaign, but unfortunately it’s a very short lived experience. Despite which character you choose, basically, the entirety of this mode consists of progressively more difficult tutorials that, while they can be reasonably educational to newcomers, just come across as annoying and lackluster to fairly experienced Soulcalibur players. The player is repeatedly required to deal with uninspired and boring situations, such as having to counter attack, dodge or god impact (a special block that gains you an attack advantage if you succeed in using it) a computerised opponent that will attack in a certain manner. Trial, whilst probably the only decent single player mode the game offers, also struggles to maintain a lasting appeal as it only contains three trial modes, of which all are exactly the same, basically offering standard, hard and advanced difficulty settings.
Possibly the best feature, regarding the solo experience, is that the Create a Character mode from Soulcalibur IV is available in Broken Destiny, where you’re free to design your own character, male or female, to use throughout the game. However it’s purely for appearance purposes as your created character has to adopt one of the Soulcalibur fighters’ combat styles. Still, it’s a fantastic mode that all fans would be thrilled to see again in this game. Participating in the various single player modes will unlock more items to use in character creation and will also award you with “Honours”, which are basically awards given for carrying out certain battle criteria, for your Records.
In the actual gameplay area, Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny plays awesomely. Since the game is based on Soulcalibur IV, and is more like a port of it than anything else, you can expect all of the special moves and abilities of all characters to be in the game. There is very little distinction between Broken Destiny and Soulcalibur IV in gameplay and this makes it easy to both get into the game and to thoroughly enjoy it, if you’re a fan of the series. The game features an admirable amount of characters, 29 in total with the inclusion of Kratos from God of War and Dampierre the new character, so it’s easy to dive straight into the action with all of your favourite characters from Soulcalibur IV. All of the gameplay mechanics from SCIV are in Broken Destiny as well such as the Soul Gauge (defense bar that determines how much punishment you can take while blocking), Soul Crushes (destruction of one of three armour pieces of a character, lowering their defense) and Critical Finishes, which are instant kill moves that your character has access to once you’ve completely ruined your opponent’s Soul Gauge.
However the greatest failing with Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny is the complete lack of online. While the game does contain Ad Hoc wireless play, which fortunately runs incredibly smoothly, it has no online modes or features which really dampens the experience. When taking into account that the only way to play multiplayer, what fighting games are made for, would be to locate another player with a PSP, and added to the fact that Broken Destiny has very weak single player modes, and the entire experience more or less takes a heavy hit here.
On a technical level, Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny does not disappoint. The game runs really smoothly, which is exactly what you’d need in order to properly play a fighting game. There are absolutely no instances of slowdown or frame rate drops and the game is practically bug free. The one problem, however, is that on many occasions the enemy AI can be frustratingly difficult to beat (the usual impossible computer reflexes and such) and it can really raise your blood levels when taking into account that there is no option to change the difficulty setting of the game. On a visual level, the game is simply amazing. The character models and environments are awesomely detailed and, while you will most likely get the feeling that you’re playing a downgraded version of Soulcalibur IV, the graphics are overall very impressive for a PSP title. Admittedly Tekken: Dark Resurrection is the dominant PSP title graphically, but this doesn’t stop Broken Destiny from looking spectacular. You’ll most definitely identify all of your favourite characters with ease as well as all of the environments, since they’re adopted from Soulcalibur IV.
Overall, Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny is a PSP title to be admired for delivering a Soulcalibur title that possesses all of the much loved gameplay mechanics and characters from Soulcalibur IV. While the game doesn’t achieve more than being a Soulcalibur IV port, it contains fantastic visuals and an admirable character roster with the inclusion of God of War’s Kratos only making things better. Unfortunately though, the lackluster single player modes and complete lack of online weighs down the entire experience and just, in the end, doesn’t make this title a contender for first buy. If you’re a Soulcalibur fan you’ll love it, but I wouldn’t recommend looking into it if you already have Soulcalibur IV – unless you’re that desperate to play as Kratos of course. Ultimately, Broken Destiny as a whole just feels like a massive tutorial to Soulcalibur IV and not the standalone PSP game that it could have been. Still, it manages to be another great fighter for the PSP when looking at it purely from a gameplay perspective.