SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny Review
Up until now, Tekken has been the only massive 3D fighter to arrive on the PSP. Years ago when Tekken: Dark Resurrection arrived on the PSP, I praised it for being a superb game that brought the very same console experience into the portable world, complete with a story mode, endings, and all. So with SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny on the way, I expected to see that same kind of treatment. And while Broken Destiny delivers in many areas, it fails in one critical aspect...
...That aspect is a proper story mode that comes complete with individual endings. A mission-based mode called The Gauntlet serves as this game's core experience and quite frankly it's pretty terrible. Essentially the game pits you against numerous rivals, but instead of full fledged fights, you have to carry out specific tasks/requirements that are displayed on the screen in order to progress. Now, each one of these "missions" lasts, on average, about five seconds, with a select few going as much as 20. These "missions" will often require you to dodge an attack, block an attack, block then counter an attack, or dodge then counter an attack. Needless to say, these mission requirements are pretty repetitive and tire quick. Sure there's a mildly amusing story behind The Gauntlet, but it's not nearly amusing enough to play the mode for.
Now, as far the gameplay transition from console to handheld goes, SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny does everything just right. Just like how Tekken: Dark Resurrection found its way flawlessly onto the PSP, you can expect that same level of quality from Broken Destiny's battles, complete with its superb fluidity. In total, over 30 fighters are found in the game, one of which is Kratos, in addition to an all new fighter Dampierre. Kratos is one of the heavier pushes for Broken Destiny, as he is actually the most prominent figure on the game's box art.
Of course, naturally, Kratos was my first pick to fight with, and it felt absolutely fantastic to kick some ass with him. He retains all of his signature attacks from the game, and they're particularly awesome to pull-off, too. Also, thanks to Sony, Namco-Bandai had the proper help when integrating Kratos into the SC universe. In fact, from what I was told by a Namco rep, the Kratos model in the game is actually the same one found in God of War: Chains of Olympus, which is very cool.
Character customization has been largely carried over from SoulCalibur IV, which means you'll be able to put your creativity to good use in the game, so feel free to create an all new fighter, or edit an existing one to your liking. But another complaint to address here is that Broken Destiny doesn't offer nearly as many unlockables as SCIV did, beyond extra items for the character customization. And while I understand this is a UMD game, it's not like Broken Destiny comes loaded with CG endings and cut-scenes for every character. And it's not like unlockables take up that much space anyways.
I will say this much, for the general Quickplay matches, SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny is fantastic. The fighting mechanics are still some of the most polished out there, and it really does make for a terrific fighter. But if you're looking for rich gameplay modes that you can play over and over to unlock cinematics and such, this isn't your game. Modes include Quickplay, Trials, The Gauntlet and Multiplayer, which is limited to two-player Ad-hoc, so no online gameplay here like you'd get with the console games.
Now, in my hands-on preview of the game last month, I had to rant about a certain aesthetic choice that Namco has veered towards, and I will regurgitate what it was I said...You see, it seems like ever since the apparent demise of the Dead or Alive franchise, Namco-Bandai have felt the need to fill in an overly-exaggerated-bouncing-breasts void that this industry most certainly did not need in the first place. I'm no morale God. Hell, I love me a curvy woman...I just prefer that woman to be real. I just feel extremely embarrassed to be playing a videogame where nearly half of the polygonal count on nearly half of the characters is in their chests. It continues to perpetuate a stereotype that this industry needs to get rid of; a stereotype that calls gamers lonely, geeky, virgin losers. Forgive my bluntness, but that's just simply the perception a majority of people still have of us.
With that rant out of the way, at least when you're playing on the PSP, you don't have to feel so embarrassed, because chances are nobody's going to notice the ridiculous details put into the female fighters, thanks to the screen size, unless they're standing and watching right over your shoulders. So you can enjoy the game for what it is, a great fighter. Yes, even though I just went on a quasi-diatribe, there's still no denying that SoulCalibur games are terrific playing fighters that have kept many coming back for years. And beyond the questionable aesthetic choices, Broken Destiny is actually a damn fine looking PSP game, boasting great character detail, beautiful backgrounds, fluid animations, a great framerate and other sharp visual touches.
If you've been playing SoulCalibur games for a while, you know precisely what to expect from the sound. The audio consists of the following SC franchise necessities: the battle announcer, fighters with voice actors who boast quickly before the fight, and a soundtrack that closely resembles the tunes of past SC games. Broken Destiny does all of this with ease, as you'd expect, and also gives you the ability to use Japanese voices. There's nothing really monumental to the sound of the game, as I've pretty much covered all there is to it.
In all honesty, if you're looking for a fighter and don't have a copy of Tekken: Dark Resurrection for PSP, I'd just go and buy that instead of Broken Destiny, especially since Tekken can be had for cheap. SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny isn't a bad game, it just feels extremely barebones in many areas, despite boasting one of the all time best mechanics for a 3D fighter. Once this hits the $20 mark, I'd spring for it - otherwise, leave this one alone for now, there are other fighters out there for the PSP.
9/10/2009 Arnold Katayev