One Project Soul team member took up nondescript arcade sticks to demonstrate this new focus against computer opponents, playing as two classic characters (Siegfried and Mitsurugi) and two brand new contenders (Pyrrah and Patroclus).
Each character lept around on the 3D axis that Soulcalibur has long-employed ("8-way running"), though each step the character took felt less distinct than it did in previous entries. Mitsu and Siegfried employed their signature stances, and I was told each was being balanced accordingly with the enormous new roster.
Both new characters did little to distinguish themselves during the demo, and, as you can see in the gameplay video above, each plays a little bit too much like a derivation of Sophitia. It stands to reason that Patroclus will have to differentiate himself, given his position as main character (a la Raphael in SC2
), but his fighting style is given impetus by something silly: the story. He's apparently Sophitia's son, as the game is set 17 years after the events of SC4
, which explains his similar fighting style. For a series with guest characters ranging from The Legend of Zelda's Link to notorious planet destroyer Darth Vader, I'm quite honestly befuddled by the adherence to a story conceit here.
Getting back to what matters in a Soulcalibur
game -- mechanics
-- I was told up front that both Critical Finishes and the Soul Gauge systems have been removed. This is an effort to push offensive play to the forefront, it seems, and it reminded me of the the good ol' stripped down fighting days of Soul Blade
. As the Namco rep mashed buttons, it became clear that the series' usual frantic action will be once again at the forefront, laced with a heavy dose of franchise nostalgia for good measure.
The folks from Namco weren't talking about online multiplayer or character creation much just yet, but both features were confirmed as returning in the next SC
installment. Interestingly, reps were notoriously cagey when another attendee asked about the Chronicles of the Sword mode from SC3
making some form of return. I can't help but be intrigued by what that could mean for the single-player campaign -- especially when paired with an assuredly more fleshed-out character creation mode.
I'd love to have spent more time with the game for a more thorough idea of the changes Project Soul has implemented, but what I did play was fast, fun, and goofy as ever. I'm looking forward to seeing -- and especially playing -- more before the game's planned 2012 launch