When the original Soul Calibur released on the Sega Dreamcast back in 1999, it was quite possibly the finest-looking console game in video game history. It was really the first example of how the past superiority of the arcades was dying out, and fighting fans everywhere – especially those who attacked the arcades with fistfuls of quarters on weekends – stood up and took notice. Who would’ve guessed that ten years later, we’d be talking about a handheld version that will not only kick ass, but should also shine visually? We’ve certainly come a long way, and now it’s time to talk about the recently unveiled Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny for the PSP, which is guaranteed to be one of the biggest releases of the year. Remember, this is the first time the immensely popular and critically acclaimed franchise has gone portable; Soul Calibur IV released in 2008, but it was only available for the home consoles. Therefore, you may be looking at a slightly different experience, but we can assure you that Project Soul and Namco Bandai won’t cut too many corners.
No, it may not be SCIV, but PSP owners will get a lot of the content seen in last year’s installment for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Of course, it’s not a direct port or anything like that; Broken Destiny will feature an all-new single-player campaign mode along with the expected Arcade, Versus and Survival modes. The gameplay should be just as fast and furious as it was in SCIV; the developers have even worked to include the crowd-pleasing Critical Finishers, Soul Crushers and equipment destruction options, so as we just said…very little in the way of cutting corners. Many times in the past, we’d often hear about a visually brilliant franchise going portable and our first response would be, “…uh-oh.” The problem is obvious: despite the PSP’s significant potential, there just isn’t enough processing power in that unit to faithfully recreate the glitz and glamour of the console entries. However, the screenshots we’ve accumulated are extremely impressive and some sources, like GameSpot and IGN, have gone hands-on with Broken Destiny. Not surprisingly, both are saying the game is gorgeous from top to bottom, with amazing lighting and shading effects.
It’s going to be a startling achievement for handheld software; we can almost guarantee it. The only thing you’re really going to miss is the level of detail and clarity you probably saw on a beautiful high-definition TV when playing Soul Calibur IV. Well, there’s nothing to be done about that, but there’s little to no chance that PSP owners will be disappointed in this portable SC production. Just look at some of the character screens above and try to convince yourself that it’s a PSP title; we haven’t seen something so pretty since Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and God of War: Chains of Olympus early last year. The days of the GameBoy Advance are in the past and if this title doesn’t prove it, nothing will. We expect to see a lot more gameplay footage and media hit the Internet very soon so keep an eye out for it, but in the meantime, you should take solace in the fact that calling Broken Destiny “gimped” in any way would be doing the game a grave disservice. No, it can’t stand up to the graphical level on display in the living room but for a fighting game on the go, there likely won’t be a better option. And obviously, you won’t be missing out on the content, either.
The game will boast over 30 fighters and that includes a PSP-exclusive character- Don Pierre. If you can’t find a character worth using on this roster, you’re just not a fan of fighting games and you might want to think about being less finicky. But if you’re a fan of the franchise, you won’t have any problem: most all your old friends will be in attendance and best of all, you’ll be able to utilize the multiplayer Ad-Hoc function to play against friends. Multiplayer is usually an option but it has always been a necessity since the early days of the genre, long before the concept of online multiplayer was even a consideration. Therefore, it’d be downright silly to make a game like Broken Destiny without Ad-Hoc, and we’re very relieved to see it included. It’ll be a landmark time in this franchise’s decade-long history: for the very first time, two human players will be able to square off on a handheld device. Nightmare vs. Sophitia. Ivy vs. Voldo. Maxi vs. Taki. And so on and so on. It’s both new and yet, at the same time, it’s not a significant step backwards to fit into the PSP mold.
We’re awaiting a specific release date; all we know now is that Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny is slated to release during the third quarter this year. But from now until then, you can bet that we’ll continue to keep a sharp eye out for any new information and details. If this game doesn’t blow us away when it launches, we’ll be very much surprised.
5/18/2009 Ben Dutka