For Soul Calibur fans this is easily the most accomplished title in the series. From an updated visual package across the vast selections of characters and beautifully detailed level designs, to the feature rich gameplay mechanics and robust online mode which takes the series to new heights, Soul Calibur V is a must have fighter.

Heading up this latest offering of soul calibur dominance, the series returns with some familiar faces as well as some new entries to this weapon based fighter. Fans can expect classic characters such as Mitsurugi with his swift and deadly samurai dexterity, the mad pirate Cervantes, the heavy weapon wielding Asteroth, to the psychotic and deranged Voldo, the sexy and powerful Ivy as well as the proud and fearless Siegfried. Some classic characters don’t make the return, such Sophitia who is replaced by her son Patroklos and daughter Pyrrha. In addition, Taki, my personal all-time favorite doesn’t make the Soul Calibur V trip. Yet she is nicely replaced  with Natsu, her apprentice who brings with her the complete Taki package with some added youth to spice things up.

Unlike some previous titles in the series which saw exclusive platform specific characters, this time around both PS3 and Xbox 360 users can wield the unstoppable Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenza from the popular Assassin’s Creed franchise. Just as you remember him from his legendary adventures, the addition of Ezio into the Soul Calibur battlegrounds is a perfect marriage. While I would prefer the great assassin to possess a more power and swift close quarters to mid range skill set, (a mixture of Taki & Mitsurugi) your favorite assassin once mastered is an incredible combatant who oozes with style and showmanship. The full list of fighters is indeed enough to keep you mastering the attractive fighting styles for months.

Creation mode is a now better than ever with its enhanced features allowing player to create their own team of fighters who are all given progression tracking according to their showcased battles. Created characters can be now be equipped with an existing fighters style and leveled up unlocking new character items . I spent hours creating both male and female characters all with different fighting styles, of course in hopes of finding that one perfect combination of style and character flair.

With new characters comes newer more complex moves yet Soul Calibur V keeps its unique fighting impression. New to the fighting equation of Soul Calibur V are the added super-moves ala Street Fighter which adds a more devastating atmosphere to the battlefield. Namco has also upped the ante in the counter move department by adding the eye-popping Brave Edge maneuver which when executed perfectly will certainly blow your hair back however, the destructive output of the move should better reward players with encouraging power to finish your opponent.

While Soul Calibur V is very much the same core fighting experience you will remember from its predecessors, this new experience takes a page from the Tekken book of ground and pound. Just as important as quickly finding your opponents weakness for exploitation, the ground attack game is huge and can be frustrating for fans of the series who aren’t exactly used to getting their clocks cleaned so quickly. Nevertheless, Soul Calibur V does an amazing job throwing every advantage your way encouraging the necessity of practice makes perfect.

Story mode didn’t exactly grab my attention early on with it’s slideshow pencil story art. During story mode there are a few in-game assets based scenarios which I would have appreciated more as I couldn’t get enough of the graphical eye-candy. However, story mode integrated with the progressive and tutorial fighting certainly introduces new comers to series quite nicely.

The real star of the show here is the online play. Jumping in and out of competitive tournaments from around the world to entering closed matches of round robin where you and friends battle it out to see who can rally up the most consecutive wins is the best online fighting system around. Ok, so you just got your teeth kicked in online, no problem, make a bowl of cereal and take notes while watching the next few matches before you’re back at the plate. After some short lived victories and embarrassingly brutal battles I found myself in the Training room mastering my skills.

Soul Calibur V is undoubtedly the best in the series and sure to be enjoyed by fans and newcomers alike. With that said, this is very much the Soul Calibur you’re used to playing, sprinkled with the new additions which breathes life and excitement into the series. Story mode could certainly use more work but that’s not why you’re here in the first place. You want to be best weapons based fighter on the planet or have an enjoyable time trying to get there against the best players in the world and Soul Calibur V certainly gives you that chance.

REVIEW SCORE: 8.8/10