A couple weeks ago, myself and Aaron were invited to an event hosted by Namco Bandai and Ubisoft to celebrate the inclusion of Assassin’s Creed’s Ezio in the upcoming fighter, Soul Calibur V. Fantastically titled, “An Evening With Ezio”, the event not only gave us hands-on time with the latest addition to Soul Calibur series, but we learnt a little more about the master assassin known as Ezio Auditore da Firenze.
Stepping into The Masonic Lodge at the elegant Andaz Hotel, we were greeted by several stations set-up with Soul Calibur V and Assassin’s Creed Revelations. Having spent several hours playing the latter, both single player and multiplayer, for our well deserved 8/10 review, we both headed towards one of the Soul Calibur V set-ups, and got stuck in to some versus combat.
With our last experience of the series being Soul Calibur IV back in 2008, it’s safe to say, we were both exceptionally rusty. However, after a few matches, we got into our fighting game groove, which is a testament to how welcoming Soul Calibur is compared to other titles in the genre. Whilst it has certain intricacies and technicalities, at a basic level, the gameplay doesn’t push casual players or newcomers to the genre away. Sure, this might lead to some button bashing (there was quite a bit of that on show at the event, myself included), but more often than not, the more skilled player will usually win the battle. Like most titles in the genre, the more time you spend practicing, the better you will become.
Shifting focus back to Soul Calibur V and Ezio’s inclusion, it appears to be a match made in heaven. Whilst the master assassin’s daggers and blades might not have great range when compared to other character’s weapons, he is deadly at short to medium distance. Being a younger version of Ezio, assets such as agility and quick movement make him an interesting proposition for any Soul Calibur stalwart. On a visual level, the team at Project Soul have plucked Ezio from the confines of Assassin’s Creed, and dropped him into to Soul Calibur V unharmed. Ubisoft’s iconic character looks just like you would expect him to, but with a hint of the Soul Calibur style applied.
Ezio aside, as mentioned earlier, Soul Calibur V is as welcoming and accessible as any of its predecessors. The majority of moves and combos don’t require you to be a genius to pull them off during a battle, but it’s still all about timing and working the 3D space to your advantage. To freshen the gameplay up a little, Project Soul has given each character a “critical edge” move. Accessed through a specific button input when the relevant bar is full, a critical edge move can turn the tide of battle instantly. Pull one of these spectacular moves off during battle, and you’re almost guaranteed to get a reaction from anyone watching you kick some virtual ass.
The evening wasn’t all about Soul Calibur V though, as the folks from Ubisoft treated us to a viewing of the animated short, Assassin’s Creed Embers. Set years after the events of Revelations (without going into spoiler territory), Embers tells the story of an old, retired Ezio who is living a relaxed life in Tuscany. That life is disturbed when he is visited by a stranger, and is almost forced to delve back into his time as an assassin. Embers provides an interesting look at Ezio’s life years after Revelations, and how time has altered his personality. It’s available as a download on Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network right now, and if you’re an Assassin’s Creed fan, it’s well worth a watch.
Our evening with Ezio ended with a Soul Calibur V tournament, which myself and Aaron rather bravely entered. I’m happy to say we both did very well, and did NGB proud. Aaron got to the semi-final stage, whereas I managed to somehow stumble my way into the final. Not being very good at fighting games, I was genuinely surprised to find myself there. My tactics were simple, stick with the one character who has moves I can pull off relatively well, and hope for the best! Unfortunately, those tactics fell apart during the final, where I was soundly beaten in the final by a far superior player. Still, I proudly flew the NGB flag, and let’s face it, everyone knows it’s the taking part that counts the most, right?!
Tournaments and animated shorts aside, “An Evening With Ezio” was a fine example of the master assassin’s status within the gaming world. When it comes to Assassin’s Creed, Ezio’s story might be over, but with Soul Calibur V due out early next year, his legacy is just beginning. Requiescat in pace? Not just yet…