Wednesday 19 December 2018

SoulCalibur VI review: Reborn but not reinvented

SoulCalibur VI (XO/PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age: 16+

SoulCalibur VI includes special guest Geralt (right) from The Witcher, as well more familiar characters
SoulCalibur VI includes special guest Geralt (right) from The Witcher, as well more familiar characters
SCVI
Shibuya Scramble
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Everyone lives and dies by the sword in SoulCalibur. Among fighting games, weapons combat is the unique series signature, along with the freedom afforded by the eight-way movement.

Both trademarks are present and correct in this sixth instalment (not counting spin-offs), which might be considered a remake/reboot for all it innovates. Depressingly, SCVI is also still riddled with the worst of fighting-game clichés - the dopey dialogue ("I'll end you!"), the improbably busty female characters, the flaccid storytelling.

But in shifting to the widely used Unreal game engine, SCVI also gains a new fluidity that adds a tremendous snappiness to the one-on-one battles. Characters respond with gratifying haste to your inputs and even if the game world looks a little bland, it's still the most attractive scenery and roster the series has ever mustered.

Like other recent fighters, SCVI recognises the need to accommodate the less dexterous among us, building in a super move called Reversal Edge that effectively functions as a rock-paper-scissors mini-game. One button press grants even the fat-fingered the opportunity to absorb several blows and then launch a powerful attack, which sort of evens the odds against expert players. The skilled, though, are equally catered for by hard-to-master super-duper moves.

So no reinvention here, just a solid beat-em-up, let down by its somewhat dull single-player, but distinct enough from the likes of Street Fighter or Tekken to please the fans.

428 Shibuya Scramble

(PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age: 18+

2018-11-10_ent_45520343_I2.JPG
Shibuya Scramble

Shibuya Station in Tokyo attracts millions of tourists every year, drawn by the giant crosswalk (or "scramble") outside.

This striking visual novel uses thousands of still photos taken around Shibuya to spin intertwined yarns about a kidnapping, seen through the eyes of a detective and a journalist, among others. It's a fascinating, if not wholly successful experiment, featuring reams of text framing some bearable soap-opera acting. If you pick the wrong (read: fatal) choice for your protagonist, you rewind to an earlier point to suss a better option.

Part drama, part comedy, part art project, 428 Shibuya Scramble is an intriguing story like nothing you've ever played.

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