Game Review: Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny

September 4, 2009

Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny may have an original title, but it's not a sequel, nor a port of an existing game in the series, nor even a sidestory. So what is it? It's Soul Calibur on your PSP. The warriors gathered have no real reason to be here. They exist only for you to learn their moves and wield them in battle against an opponent. Does the soul still burn, despite the lack of context?

Broken Destiny is all business. Everything essential to Soul Calibur has been scaled down to portable size, and while story and setting are almost entirely absent, nothing important to gameplay been lost in translation. The game actually continues in the same direction the series has been going all along, toward more moves, and more fighters - including newcomer Dampierre, the celebrated Kratos from the God of War franchise, and a host of visually-customized fighters from the game's character creation mode.

If you have a friend with the game, you can play local matches in versus mode. If not, quick match provides you with simulated opponents with nicknames, individual play styles, and win-loss records that indicate who's a virtual scrub and who approaches computer-controlled perfection. A mini-achievement system awards you with honors for performing different feats in combat, providing a small incentive to keep fighting.


The game is squarely aimed at people who already know and enjoy the series, but you can improve your skills by selecting the gauntlet. The trial-and-error flow isn't very entertaining and quickly becomes redundant, but it does instruct you on how to play the game. Unfortunately, to learn a specific character, you'll have to figure things out yourself in an unguided training mode.

A trial mode lets you rack up points by driving up your multiplier with skillful attacking and defending, but it's hard to care about the score since you can't really share outside of having someone look at your screen. But the mode is good for giving you a steady stream of opponents, and it's the most efficient choice for killing time that the game offers.

Soul Calibur is a series that's easy to pick up and do impressive looking stuff. It doesn't take too much coaxing to launch people into the air or strike out with a glowing blade. But while button mashing may produce results, the overall difficulty feels like it's aimed at players who are familiar with the series. Some button combinations are difficult with the cramped controller layout, but you can configure the controls to your liking.


The basics of the game involve horizontal attacks, vertical attacks, and free movement. Guarding, throwing, and advanced techniques also come into play to give the game additional depth. Each character has a substantial catalogue of moves--far more than you'll actually need, really. You'll use your favorites based on effectiveness, speed, and how cool they look.

The game is easily enjoyable in casual or competitive play, but the glut of moves and characters make Broken Destiny feel a little messy. Recent additions to the series, such as breakable armor and critical finishers, feel like they were added just for sake of novelty, but the series hasn't lost any of its appeal, and the new characters are worthy additions. Dampierre is a tricky character for advanced players, while Kratos is straightforward, but powerful and easy to use.

Broken Destiny is incredibly successful at recreating the charismatic characters and grand arenas the series is known for without sacrificing detail, personality, or even bouncing boobs. For a handheld system, the level of fidelity is striking. Audio is faithfully recreated with grand dueling music, and the overly dramatic announcer referencing souls, swords, and fate. Loading times are quick, and become essentially nonexistent if you actually install the game on your PSP.


Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny is almost as much of an application or tool as it is an actual game. It essentially gives Soul Calibur fans access to all the substantial content you would find in Soul Calibur 4, with more characters, moves, and a few ways to test and theoretically improve your skills. It's missing a few elements that would make it an ideal starting point for anyone unfamiliar to the series and is unlikely to attract new fans with its straightforward approach, but in terms of value and quality, Broken Destiny is an excellent handheld fighting game.

Reviewed on Sony Playstation Portable.

Source: Namco Bandai