Soul Caliber Legends: A legend in the making?

January 30, 2008

First of all, this is not the Soul Caliber we’ve come to know and love. You will not be facing opponent after opponent, waiting to see who lives and who dies (or, as the case may be, who lives and who accidentally jumps off the edge). The gameplay is vastly different, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if you’re looking for more of the same, well, SCIV is coming out in a few months.

I’m not going to touch on the sound and graaphics of this–if you’ve played SCIII you already know what to expect. The models are about as good, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re not at least partially lifted from that game (which puts the graphics level above almost everything else we’ve seen for the Wii so far). For some reason, Lloyd from Tales of Symphonia has been added, and the style is different enough to look out of place. Otherwise, nothing really to quibble about.

Story

This game takes place after a younger Sigfried obtains Soul Edge from Cervantes. He is then recruited by the leader of the Holy Roman Empire to help them fight off an invasion, and he needs to find the shards and restore Soul Edge to do so. Initially, the story is jsut about finding the shards, though you will meet allies along the way. Some also want the sword’s power, some want to destroy it, some don’t give a flying fudgecicle. (Hey, there’s enough swearing in video game culture already.) Most of them should be familiar to fans of the series.

One interesting twist is that the leader of the invading army also wields a powerful sword…Soul Caliber. This raises a lot of questions about what role the two swords play in this scenario.

Gameplay

Buttonbashers, rejoice!  Or at least keep a bottle of water handy, because it’s easy to get quite a workout with this game.  Rather than complex combos using numerous buttons, in Legends you attack by swinging the Wiimote, which makes the basic swings very intuitive.   There are still combos to be performed, and many signature attacks from previous games are still here, but for the most part you can swing the controller wildly to get the job done.    Step attacks can be a royal pain though, as they involve also moving the nunchuck, which is much less intuitive (I just ignore them and sidestep with C).  Other than that, the controls are pretty easy to work with.

As far as levels go, in most  you’ll simply have to deal with a multitude of enemies to get to the end–there isn’t much more than that.  Some bosses are trickier, but not every level has one.  There are also some small puzzles to be figured out, but nothing too tricky, at least as far as I’ve player–I’ll confess to not having finished the game.  Overall, it’s pretty basic.

The 2-player mode suffers from the different gameplay though.  There are both co-op and competitive missions, and more to be unlocked via the story,  but they all suffer from one thing–split screen.  Especially on a 4:3 screen, this affords you a very narrow field of view, and really kills this mode for me.

Nostalgia

Has nothing to do with the gameplay, but I got a nice dose of nostalgia from this game.  The initial shot for the Wii menu brought me back to the NES/SNES days, as did the opening cinematic.  Well, cinematic might be overstating it a bit–it’s mainly stills, but very, very pretty stills, which again brought me back to the SNES.  This theme carries over into the game too, as between levels you’ll mostly see stills of the different characters talking over the world map.  Unfortunately, just like many SNES games, they are often posed awkwardly, so that despite the pretty graphics, they’re a bit annoying to deal with.  There are some FMVs in the game, so take heart but if you’re the kind of person for whom the graphics make the game….you might want to rethink this one.  If you’re the kind who still has a working NES hooked up to the TV, on the other hand, I think you’ll like this game.

Overall, I found it a decent experience at best.  I did enjoy the game, but there is nothing that really makes it stand out for me. It’s a difficult game to play for long periods of time (mainly because my arm gets tired from swinging wildly) which kills some of the immersion.  The difficulty also isn’t that high, and while some skill is required, it does get a bit tedious at times, especially in areas where there are waves of mobs to be dealt with before moving on.  The main draw, I think, is filling out the story behind the SC series.  If you’re not a story-driven person, I’d give this a pass.

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