SOUL CALIBUR: BROKEN DESTINY Sony PSP Review

     September 18, 2009

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When our favorite tortured Spartan with a bad case of laryngitis comes calling, no mere mortal can resist. Even more so once a solid fighting engine and enormous boobies serve as backdrops for Kratos’ latest appearance. Like ‘Tekken: Dark Resurrection’ before it, Namco-Bandai has another portable fighter winner on its hands in ‘Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny,’ a fairly robust version of the legendary series perfectly designed for solo, portable play. My review after the jump:

Very little has changed in the ‘Soul Calibur’ series over the years, and ‘Broken Destiny’ is no different. A diverse array of fighters – tortured soul heavy weaponeers, emo-inspired goodie-goodie swordsmen, peculiar folks with quick strike capabilities, and lots of mammary gland goodness – greet this 3-D fighting experience. Some overdramatic yet stunning backdrops and music accompany, all combine to produce a fairly addictive fighter with a solid dose of re-playability.

soul_calibur_psp_broken_desinty_image_kratos_01.jpg‘Soul Calibur’ has always placed a premium on counter-strikes and mid-air combos, and ‘Broken Destiny’ is no different. The game features two distinct modes dedicated to perfecting these skills, supplemented by a tutorial that simultaneously advances gameplay strategy and capabilities while earning experience points translatable to character visual upgrades. Consider the tutorial, however, a one-and-done mode.

Like ‘Tekken,’ ‘Broken Destiny’ appears a natural fit for the PSP right out of the box. Installing game files (250 MB) cuts loading times down to a minimum, and the PSP’s D-pad does an admirable job of engendering control over your fighters despite a semi-unnatural button layout. Twenty-eight characters are yours for the taking, including a cameo by the God of War himself, likewise a solid new addition in a French shyster named Dampierre.

Cutting right to the chase: Yes, Kratos kicks ass.

He’s a significant improvement over Yoda and Darth Vader from the next-gen console ‘Soul Calibur’ iterations for one semi-obvious reason: Kratos has friggin’ swords. There was something visually stupid about waving lightsabers around again Ivy’s chain-sword (except to stare at Ivy, of course), even more so since the ‘Star Wars’ characters were ridiculously overpowered.

soul_calibur_psp_broken_destiny_image_01.jpgRelated, Namco-Bandai successfully capture the look and feel of Kratos, with his visualization, voiceover, movements, and combos what you would expect should he be plucked into a fighting tournament for the Gods. (It appears Namco-Bandai agree, as they’ve pimped Kratos all over the box as the main draw for the game.)

Truth be told, however, I enjoyed Dampierre more than Kratos, a solid short range character with a lot more life to him than Voldo. (And thankfully less into S&M as well. Please, don’t bring out the Gimp.) In a nutshell, Dampierre is an oddball goof sporting an uncanny sense of how to kickass. That my friends, is a winning combination.

Arguably most important in reviewing a portable title, however, is its fit for its platform. ‘Broken Destiny’ earns high marks in this regard with several solo player designed modes, all of which feature quickplay options for short gaming sessions. Yes, multiplayer is available, but – like most PSP titles – good luck finding anyone to play against except your buddy sitting right next to you on his/her PSP.

On the flipside, ‘Broken Destiny’ offers nothing new to the series (in exception to two new characters), with customization replacing character upgrade options (a downgrade if there ever was one) from next-gen versions. Also, the same fighting engine flaws inherent in its bigger brothers are in the PSP version, for better or for worse.

For both ‘Soul Calibur’ loyalists or n00bs, however, ‘Broken Destiny’ is a fighting game winner, one that stands side-to-side with ‘Tekken: Dark Resurrection’ as a great way to kick some ass on the go. Even more so for ‘God of War’ fans and/or convincing chaps capable of getting their friends to pick up their own copy for multiplayer competition. Thus, while ‘Broken Destiny’ will never be confused with its next-gen counterparts, its stands tall on its own portable merits.

OVERALL: B+

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