Our recent discussion of tiers sparked some interesting side discussion about why people select their main characters. Think back, for a moment to how you came to play your main character(s). What motivated your decision? Was it strategic, or did it just happen?
As with all new iterations of the game, SC5 will probably herald another large-scale shift in mains—I’ve mained a different character in every version of Calibur, myself—and we’ll also have an influx of players new to competitive Soul Calibur who are also looking for characters.
That being the case, I thought I’d devote this week to the ins and outs of character selection.
With all apologies to my erstwhile friend and fellow writer Hates, and you the readers, this piece was a little late for a couple of very important reasons; Skyrim, and of course, just plain writers block. Both of these things have been sorted now, so enjoy the article.
Before I go spouting off like I know things, a brief introduction. I've been participating in tournaments for fighting games since 1995. I've seen a ton of good tournaments and bad ones, and after 16 years of tournament experience, let me say this:
A Major Tournament is literally the most fun you can have with a fighting game, period.
Greetings, my minions... I mean, class! When last we met, we glossed the basic idea that characters can and should be evaluated on their own merits, divorced from such harder to quantify things as ease of use or player skill. Today we’ll be engaging with the mechanics of such evaluation.
This week’s glut of news—character reveals, hands-on impressions, and even a release date—left me, as many of you, impatient for more. There’s really no antidote for it; the more I find out about SC5, the more I find myself drifting off into happy fantasies of the horrible, borderline unjustifiable things I’ll be doing to you people once the game drops. It also got me thinking generally about the ways in which information of all sorts spreads throughout our community. Everything from juicy pre-release teases to advanced post-release tech comes to us through the same vectors: our fellow players.
First lets get some history out of the way... Growing up, I never really liked fighting games; I played them, but very rarely, and often with disapproval. Then Soulcalibur II came out, and all that changed. Suddenly the idea of a fighting game that didn't require physical dexterity to play was apparent. I could use mind games to win matches, instead of muscle memory.
To this day, Soulcalibur II is still one of my favorite games; even though going back to it is often hard because of the lack of "flashiness" we've grown accustom to in more recent games. However, when SC3 came out, I became soured on the series. I very publicly decried the game and hated it with every fiber of my being. Even SC4, which is arguably, an extremely good game, took a long time to grow on me in the aftermath of SC3.
Vincent may not have won Devastation 2011, but he certainly won our hearts, and this despite being a known Canadian. After clutching out an impressive victory against LP (and avenging a loss from the day before in the process), he was given the stream mic and used his moment in the sun to grace us all with two nuggets of unadulterated profundity: "I just want to get laid," and "we played casuals . . . I lost like fifteen in a row to him, but then I won two."
After enduring weeks of pressure from the darkest, slimiest, most megalomaniacal corners of the community to comment on the issue of online versus offline play, I've finally acquiesced. Don't expect a simplistic "offline good, online bad, stfu scrub" treatment here, though--we're going in-depth. Why? Because Hate Speech is about not only stepping up your game and making you think, but also about peace, brotherhood, and all kinds of other new-age hippie crap.
Most of us, at some point during our competitive lives, have thought something along these lines: "I know I would have beaten that guy if I spent as much time playing the game as he does." In fact, it's because enough people have explained to me that I only won a match because, instead of practicing, they spend all of their free time having sex with supermodels, making irrational amounts of money, and curing cancer all at once that I'm writing this column and sharing some of my most closely guarded nerd secrets. Consider it a thank you to all of you sex-having, bill-stacking Nobel laureates out there for doing so much and asking so little in return.
Like many of you heroes out there, I spent several hours last Friday watching the French play Soul Calibur 5. As the stream ended, I found myself reflecting on two major issues: first, a suffocating, heady mix of shame and loathing at having lost a beautiful day, and second, the traits that make games compelling for spectators.
In fairness, Friday's exhibition wasn't my first rodeo; I've waved a fond farewell to countless hours of my life as I watched them spiral away down the match video/tourney stream toilet, which makes sense within the context of Soul Calibur matches because I'm personally invested in the game. Then again, I've also found myself watching intently as people I don't know play games I've never touched, and I've loved every second of it. So what gives? How does a game become "good tv?"