Soul Calibur Legends is an affront to the games industry. The horrendous gameplay and horrible graphics not only shame the Wii as a platform, but lowers the reputation of a remarkable franchise. Wii fans should be appalled at Namco's clear lack of concern with the title, and should expect more.
Graphically speaking, Legends is nothing short of unacceptable. If the game could even remotely look like Soul Calibur 2 on Gamecube, we'd be, at the very least, satiated. Instead, what we saw were blocky recreations of our Soul Calibur favorites trapped in boring, poorly textured environments that make the Dreamcast original look like a modern technical achievement. There is absolutely nothing to praise about the visuals in Legends: the art is generic, and the characters are stiff and lifeless. The screenshots that have been released are poor representations on how this game really looks.
The gameplay doesn't fare any better. Legends is a mindless hack and slash with poor controls. Enemies stand around, dumbfounded, as you hack away at them by shaking the Wiimote. The combat is imprecise, and simply not fun. We did appreciate the dodge: shaking the Nunchuck will allow players to make a quick dash. There was no challenge, nor depth to the battles. Ultimately, each encounter was reduced to wild waggle sessions. Wii owners deserve a lot better than this -- Namco, we'd point to Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess as an example on how to properly implement sword attacks in an adventure game (and please learn how to create a proper lock-on!).
If we had to give an award for most underwhelming disappointment of the show, Soul Calibur Legends is an easy candidate. Unless this game goes under a serious redesign, don't expect the first Soul Calibur game on Wii to be anything more than a complete disaster.
[Update: A Namco representative was right to ask us to point out that this is, in fact, an early build of the title which isn't due until later this year (note these were our impressions, not our review). While many of the shortcomings appear to be design-oriented, she said the team was looking to make changes based on the feedback gathered from E3 players. We're certainly hopeful they can clean Soul Calibur Legends up before its release in Q4 '07. For other impressions of the E3 demo, check out Wired, 1UP, and Gamespot.]