Even without the perplexing addition of Stars Wars characters, the last SoulCalibur felt like a game that had run out of creative steam. All the swashbuckling pirates and disgruntled golems played much the same as they had on the Dreamcast, and although Project Soul added the Soul Crush system to make blocking more risky - as well as a customisation mode that let you adjust appearance and attributes - it was akin to owning the same sports car for 10 years straight. It still had the capacity to excite, but familiarity had dulled some of that early intensity.
It seemed that SoulCalibur would join the same ranks as Killer Instinct and The Last Blade: fighting game series that once went toe-to-toe with the best of the best, but were destined to fade away. This tragedy, however, has not come to pass. Although Namco took a misguided step with the epically bad SoulCalibur: Legends, the weapon-wielding warriors have returned in SoulCalibur 5 - And this time, the performance upgrades offer much more mileage.
Set 17 years after the last game, this chapter of the Stage of History is populated by 27 characters, including familiar faces like the dauntingly breasted Ivy and the whimsically sadistic Tira - neither of whom has aged a day - in addition to three descendant characters who inherit the bō-staff, ninja garb and Chinese sword of Kilik, Taki and Xianghua. Although the protégés conduct themselves in a strikingly similar fashion to their forbearers, they each pack enough new tricks to give veteran players something fresh to experiment with.