Monday, June 13, 2011

Tekken vs Soul Calibur – The Real Battle Begins

Fighting games are close to the hearts of many gamers, even if they are not always their favourite genre.  Many of us are familiar with the early Mortal Kombat games, Street Fighter, and the legendary Marvel vs Capcom arcade machines.  More recently we’ve seen some interesting twists like Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, which was stunning to see (I spent a very happy evening watching the various crazy fights that that game threw at you).  However, today I would like to address the grand dilemma of the Playstation addict: Tekken or Soul Calibur, which is really the best?
Ah, memories.
I’ve only come into the Playstation scene recently, starting playing through Kingdom Hearts and Dynasty Warriors 3 only a few years ago.  I encountered Tekken 5 first, before Soul Calibur, and I really enjoyed it.  The wide variety of characters, the different fighting styles, and several different game modes made it a great way to pass the time.  I recognized it as something I had played in arcades once or twice before, but now I really got into it.  Feng Wei, in my opinion, is an unstoppable force of nature, and I kitted him out in awesome clothes to match this.  I’ve played through Story Mode with pretty much every character, but he is by far my favourite.  Also, the addition of the Devil Within third person adventure mode was quite cool, although the game itself is not particularly entertaining (even if it managed to suck away hours of my time anyway).
So many characters, so many fighting styles.  Capoeira FTW!

This year, however, I discovered the world of Soul Calibur.  Obviously, I’d heard of it, but I’d never played it.  We bought Soul Calibur II for our PS2, and suddenly a question overrode all the joy Tekken had ever given me: why aren’t there any WEAPONS in Tekken?  Staff and swords and axes make Soul Calibur a distinctly separate and fantastic game.  As I have been living in a house full of fencers, Raphael’s style was consistently critiqued even as they kept selecting him to fight with.  Cassandra has always been my favourite though.  She can be devastating, and she has a shield, even if that actually gives her very little advantage.  Psychologically, everyone became convinced that she had some super blocking abilities because of that shield, and cited that as the reason that I was winning.  She doesn’t.  I was just holding block a lot.  Oh well.  I’ve also played Soul Calibur IV quite heavily, and the addition of Vader, the Apprentice, and Yoda to the cast make for fun afternoons of force battles and Emperor Tosses.  The biggest criticism I have for the series as I’ve seen it is the Weapon Master campaign mode for Soul Caliber II, which seems to go on forever with very little purpose.
Impressive, but that's several years of your life gone.

 Comparing the two, both Namco games, I have to say you can’t go far wrong with either.  I haven’t seen Tekken 6 so I can’t directly compare it with Soul Calibur IV, but I imagine that visually you get roughly similar experiences, which is to say, a fantastic one.  Obviously, if you want a fight with weapons, go play Soul Calibur.  If you want a straight martial arts battle, Tekken is your game.  I have to say that the story in Tekken is both more engaging and fun to play through.  The Soul Calibur plotline is a little ridiculous and isn’t particularly interesting, whereas every character in Tekken has their own motivations for being at the tournament.  Half of the drama is the background to the fights, rather than the fights themselves.  In terms of gameplay, they’re roughly similar I believe.  Soul Calibur seems to be easier to play as blocking is much simpler, and Tekken seems to demand more combo attacks from you in order to win.  You really have to specialize in Tekken whereas in Soul Calibur I can generally pick up any character and be ok.  Overall, I think Soul Calibur is the much more entertaining casual fighting game for a party, while Tekken is an excellent game for the more hardcore gamers who want a real challenge for their skills.  Maybe that’s how these games are designed.  Namco made both, so maybe that’s what they were going for.  If so, well done.  You’ve produced a great pair of game series.
Oh yes, and people love Soul Calibur for the *ahem* character design...
Oh, and don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten Super Smash Brothers.  I’ll write about that another day.

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