The Consensus: Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny Review «

GameSpy’s Take

With its release of Tekken: Dark Resurrection a few years ago, Namco proved capable of creating a PSP fighting game every bit as good as its console counterpart. Now, the company brings its other 3D fighting franchise to Sony’s portable machine with Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny.

Given how great Dark Resurrection was, it probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Broken Destiny does an outstanding job of recreating the Soulcalibur experience on a handheld. Visually it may not stand up to Soulcalibur IV on PS3 (not that anyone expects it to), but it’s still one of the most beautiful titles on the PSP. Both the characters and the backgrounds look amazing, and the animation is remarkably smooth. The sound is also terrific, with all the epic music tracks and goofy announcer voiceovers that you expect to hear in Soulcalibur. I also highly recommend taking advantage of the game’s install feature — it eats up about 250MB on your memory card, but it essentially eliminates otherwise bothersome load times.

As for the game itself… well, it’s Soulcalibur. Luckily, the controls work surprisingly well on the PSP pad. The fighting system is modeled after Soulcalibur IV’s, retaining that game’s Soul Gauge and Critical Finish system. The Soulcalibur enthusiast may notice a few tweaks to the fighting system here and there, but to the average player this is essentially a travel-sized Soulcalibur IV. Like other SC titles, this game is built for both casual and hardcore fighting fans. Experts can pick apart the finer aspects of the engine, taking advantage of the more advanced techniques and combos, but the basic moves are easy enough to get anyone hooked on the game. Also, the wide selection of characters (nearly 30) means that you’re bound to find one that you enjoy.

Most of the available characters are series veterans, plus a couple of new combatants. Dampierre is a Snidely Whiplash-looking fellow who fights with a pair of daggers concealed within his sleeves. His speed and close-range weapons make him play similarly to Voldo, and his unorthodox moves (like his spanking and crotch-kicking throws) are a hoot to watch. This game’s “special guest character” is Kratos from Sony’s God of War series. He’s relatively slow, but his Chains of Olympus weapon gives him exceptional range. He’s a hard-hitting character, too, with a set of moves that emphasize air combos. Both of these newcomers are rather fun to play, and Kratos certainly fits into the universe a lot better than SC4’s guests from a galaxy far, far away. The character-creation mode is here as well, and it’s as involved as ever.

As you would expect, the game supports multiplayer… but unfortunately it only runs in ad hoc (local) mode. Granted, it runs quite smoothly, but the lack of online play really stings. Unless you have some friends handy with their own copy of the game, you’re stuck playing the single-player game.

This is where Broken Destiny runs into a bit of a problem: If you’re looking for an extensive single-player experience, you won’t find it here. The games offers four different single-player modes, but none of them are exceptionally deep or interesting. The standard Training mode allows you to practice your moves, while Quick Match faces you off against single opponents to earn their titles (clever little phrases that you can assign to your character in multiplayer). Trials mode is a variant of the typical survival mode, where you face a gauntlet of enemies, and losing means starting all over again.

The most involved mode is dubbed “The Gauntlet,” but even this plays more like an extended training mode than a full-on single-player game. Here, you work your way through multiple chapters, each comprising a handful of missions. The problem here is that each battle lasts literal seconds. In these seconds, you have a goal to accomplish, such as guarding an incoming attack and then countering with a specific move. If you fail to immediately perform as instructed, you fail the mission.

The simplistic single-player modes are well-suited to portable gaming, as they can all be played in short bursts, but they’re also limiting to anyone wanting more from the game. Even the usual amount of unlockable bonuses is lacking. All of Broken Destiny’s characters and modes are available from the start, leaving very little to work toward in the single-player modes. The most exciting things that you earn while playing the game are new clothing options for your custom characters; the remaining items are the mostly useless character titles and some bland achievements, which tend to fall into the category of “execute X specific moves” or “get Y ring outs.”

Broken Destiny’s lackluster single-player game makes it a difficult game to unconditionally recommend. It’s certainly a technical marvel, and if you have friends to play with, you’ll love it. It really is a portable Soulcalibur game, with everything good that implies. But if you’re fighting solo, be aware that this game isn’t really designed for extended play. You have to wonder why Namco didn’t toss in a basic arcade mode — it would have done wonders.


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