Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In-Depth Review: Soul Calibur V - Collector's Edition

Soul Calibur V: Collector’s Edition 

Note: This review is for the Collector’s Edition contents of Soul Calibur V and NOT the game itself.
Another year, another chance for game makers to entice us with the promise of things we want but do not need (for a small fee, of course). Having been a fan of the Soul series since part 2, I was more than happy to pick up this new set and review it for you guys. This particular Collector’s Edition is for the PS3 and was purchased at Best Buy. As such, there are certain inclusions that are specific to both those choices. I will note the differences where necessary.

What’s Included:
1) Book-Style Display Box
2) Soul Calibur V
3) Hardcover Artbook
4) Soundtrack
5) Making of Blu-ray (PS3 only, 360 includes DVD)
6) White Knight & Dark Knight DLC
7) Dampierre DLC (Best Buy Exclusive)

The Display Box:

This is one of the slickest boxes I’ve ever seen for a special edition. More importantly, unlike the Uncharted 3 box, it is small enough to be easily and tastefully stored. To start with, the fake book box comes packed in a cardboard slipcase. The slipcase includes all the kinds of information that game publishers need to put on their game boxes (in multiple languages, no less). For the Best Buy version, this also includes a logo on the front reminding you that your version will include the Dampierre DLC character. All these blemishes make you thankful that the slipcase is the only place (almost) that is tarnished with such information. 

The book box itself is modeled to look like an old tome. The sides of the book (where the pages go) are just printed on flat cardboard-like material. It looks convincing. The front, back, and spine of the book are printed on a leatherette texture. It both looks and feels authentic enough. It’s not the greatest quality, but it gets the job done. Along the edges of the fake leather, Namco went the extra mile and included real stitching.

            The printing on the box’s outside fits in well with the tome-like appearance. The patterning is a shiny gold foil that is weathered to imply the age of the tome.
Upon opening the box, you will notice that is held in its closed position by those fancy invisible magnet clasps that are all the rage these days. The inside flap of the box includes a recessed area where the making-of disc is housed. The hub for this disc is made of foam. I’ve only seen a foam hub once before. It didn’t work particulary well then, and it doesn’t work particularly well now either. Thankfully, though not ideal, the foam hub is very snug and you won’t have to worry about the disc falling out.

The main compartment is filled with a plastic tray lined with red felt. There is also a pull-ribbon to help you take the contents out. It looks very classy for what it is. Inside the tray are the DLC card, the artbook, and the game. The soundtrack, in case you’re curious, is held within the artbook.

The case for the game disc is covered with the same kinds of information that were on the slipcase. Yes, that includes the Best Buy exclusive Dampierre DLC notification. Again, it is NOT a sticker. It’s a shame that Namco couldn’t make a Collector’s Edition exclusive game case or reversible case (like Resistance 3 or the Ico/SoTC Collection).
That’s about it for the case. As already stated, it is very slick and will look wicked cool on your bookshelf.

The Artbook:

The artbook, at first, seems like kind of a let down. Compared to the faux leather book that it comes in, the thin glossy hardbound artbook with its too thin pages is not much to look at. Thankfully, the artbook is smartly designed to make the most out of its limited space. According to the back of the box, it’s 100 pages and that seems like an accurate page count.

The book starts with a few pages of general Soul Calibur V CG renders. They are the kinds of renders you would find in promotional material for magazines. After that small section, the artbook gets to the main content. Each character in the game is given 4 pages or space (except for Ezio). The first page is a CG render of the character. The second page is a short bio. The third page is the official artwork (found on the character select screen). Lastly, the fourth page, which also happens to be my favorite, is a collection of sketched concept work. Though no one character is really delved in to, none of them are neglected either. The decision to add some purpose and structure to the artbook help save it from being utterly mediocre.

The last inclusion in the artbook is a track listing for the CD that is housed within it. The hub inside the artbook is a standard digi-pack one that is far more effective than the foam one from earlier.

Artbooks can be very hit or miss these days. The one included here is mostly a hit.

The Soundtrack:

I’ve never never never been a fan of included video game soundtracks. The one in this set has Soul Calibur music spanning multiple titles in the series. I’m listening to it right now and I can safely say that it is Soul Calibur music. If that excites you, take a look at the track listing and see if your favorite song is listed.

Ummm…. Yay?

Making-Of Disc:

Fantabulous news! The making-of disc is a blu-ray. I’m almost certain the 360 version includes a DVD. I’m glad I got the PS3 version.

The disc has a nice selection of trailers. If you’ve been following this game closely, you’ve probably seen them all. It is nice to have them in one place, though, and in 1080p.

There is also a section that gives you the “6 Secrets of Soul Calibur.” This clocks in at about 4 and a half minutes. In it, the game’s producer lets you in on 6 secrets about Soul Calibur V’s development. They aren’t really good secrets. They’re more silly than interesting, but they’re a fun diversion none the less.

The actual making of footage is here too. It’s basically a series of interviews with the development team about Soul Calibur. Though earlier games are discussed, it is focused mainly on part V. It clocks in at almost a half hour and is subtitled for your enjoyment. It’s an enlightening little promotional piece that gives you a short glimpse into the reasons for some of the decisions made in regards to this latest installment of the Soul series. For example, the new critical moves were made with full knowledge that the critical finishers in the last title didn’t quite work.
The making-of disc is one of those things that you’ll be glad you watched, but will likely never watch again. Y’know, like most special features found on bluray movies.


The included White Knight and Dark Knight DLC costumes are for use in the game’s character creation. Though both suits look cool (and bonus points for making them available to both female and male warriors), with a download of less than a megabyte combined, it’s obvious that this is merely disc locked content.

They look silly without undergarments added.
Chain Mail helps the overall look.

See what I mean.
Helps with the Women too.
Looks spooky.
The point of a good special edition is to add value above and beyond what the standard consumer purchases. This kind of DLC is not added value, in my eyes, because it only “adds” value to the special edition by removing value from the standard edition.
The Best Buy exclusive Dampierre also falls into the “disc locked content” category. The character is sort of a joke character and he is fun to use, but I resent his being removed from the non-Best Buy copies of Soul Calibur V just to “add” value to Best Buy’s copies of the game. It should be noted that the Dampierre character is a bonus for both the standard and special editions of Soul Calibur V at Best Buy.


Is the included content worth the 20 extra dollars? Sadly, no. Though the included items are a definite win, the set still feels about 5 dollars too expensive. That said, if you can find this edition on sale or if you are a huge Soul Calibur fan, I can easily recommend picking this set up. Non-fans, however, are better off saving their cash.

That said, pick up the Best Buy version anyway. It does come with an extra character after all.

Next Review: Will be BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend Limited Edition

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