Soul Calibur is a series near and dear to my heart due to spending countless hours playing the first game on my Dreamcast with a college buddy of mine. We once sat there kicking the snot out of one another for three hours straight, and we loved every minute of it. Fast forward a few years and Soul Calibur V improves on the original formula while bringing back that hook that was so addicting all those years ago.
Future Press must also love this series because they made a small bible to help players become the master of duck, dodge, and stab. Their Soul Calibur V strategy guide is friggin impressive to say the least. The amount of work that went into this book shows the moment you peel the cellophane off and crack the spine.
The first three chapters are dedicated to how to play the game and the abundance of mechanics contained within it. That is 91 pages of learning about things like the difference between a crouching throw and air throw, character fighting styles, stance transitions, just guard, evasion, and a bounty of other useful information. I took my time with these sections because they helped me develop strategies for the different characters I enjoy playing. These also helped me acquire a deeper understanding of just how complex the fighting system in this game has become over the last few years.
The Game Modes section was particularly useful due to it breaking down strategies for each character. Following this up is a key attack blurb that pretty much defines the character. The coverage of the Story Mode provides a good idea of how to handle every chapter without chucking the controller across the room in frustration. Heck, even the Character Creation section goes into great depth on how something as simple as stickers work and how players can utilize them to further customize player made characters. Seriously, prepare to spend a great deal of time in the first 100 pages of this guide!
The VS Play chapter is where most will spend their time, as this is where Future Press dives into each character in massive detail. It even begins with a few pages on how to use the section as well as defining the terms used throughout. Each character starts with a small blurb about who they are, overview of their fighting styles and where they excel versus where they are weakest. From there each attack/stance/throw/combo gets the meticulous detail treatment. Anyone that wants to know if the Hwu Dye maneuver is worth executing for Leixia will find plenty of insight in this guide.
Besides all the info on moves, Future Press tackles both offensive and defensive strategies. Following this is brief blurbs on how to fight against the character, like letting readers know that Leixia struggles in mid-long range. This is a beautiful piece of info for those that spend any amount of time battling other players online or want to tackle the game at higher difficulty settings. Finally, each character section is followed up with a chart that shows every command and its damage, impact, hit, and property. This is a no frills chart that makes for a fantastic quick reference guide.
The last portion of the guide goes to all the extras of the game. Unlockable characters, achievements/trophies, character profiles, equipment and titles all find a home here. The unlocked characters are not as detailed as those of the main game are, but there is still a nice amount of info in here.
The guide does falter in a few places however. One of the biggest letdowns is that the cover art for this book is simple yet elegant, but that does not carry through the rest of the guide. There are a few pieces of art scattered about the pages, but this feels more like a textbook than something dedicated to a video game. Where other guides bring in elements of the game to help make it feel as though the guide is part of the game, this feels more like something one would use to cram before an 8AM exam. It is a bit of a lost opportunity to show off some of the fine artwork this series has.
Continuing with that textbook feel, this is not a light reading type of guide. This is going to be something that gamers sit down with, read, digest, try out the newly acquired info, and come back to in order to verify various aspects of the digested knowledge. Let’s face it, 480 pages of combos, blocks, and moves is a lot to dig into and make proficient use of. You are warned now.
Despite a lack of continuity between guide and game, along with a massive amount of reading, this sets a high standard for fighting game strategy guides. The lack of artwork is forgivable when one realizes useful items such as a quick reference chart of moves replace the missing eye candy. It also looks damn good sitting on a coffee table. Anyone new to the Soul Calibur franchise need this book, veterans will find it rather useful too.