Based on many of the mechanics from the SoulCalibur IV engine, Broken Destiny is a weapons-based fighting game featuring a host of familiar and equally ridiculous characters. The Star Wars characters from the Playstation 3 version of the game have been replaced with the much better suited Kratos and the deeply intuitive character creation mode is back.
SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny features a range of basic single-player modes and adHoc mulitplayer for taking on a friend.
Comparing SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny to its bigger brother SoulCalibur IV is probably the best compliment you can pay it. The fact is, despite being scaled down and lacking the slightest detail in the character models, Broken Destiny matches its Playstation 3 counterpart in every area. Details are rich, colours are sharp and characters are well animated. This is Soul Calibur on the PSP alright.
Nothing has been taken away from the typical SoulCalibur experience to make Broken Destiny work on the PSP. The armour breaking Soul Gauge mechanics are still in tact, building into the deadly Critical Finishers. The characters each have their wealth of moves available from the start, giving you plenty to learn and play with. It's SoulCalibur through and through, thus if you're familiar with the franchise, you'll know exactly what to expect here. If you're new to the franchise, you'll find SoulCalibur one of the easier beat 'em ups to pick up and play, but new modes such as The Gauntlet will teach you how to master the game's richer mechanics.
There's an impressive roster of fighters unlocked from the moment you begin a new game with SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny. The game keeps track of your statistics with chosen characters but the most important thing is that they are all selectable from the start. People have shown frustration at having to unlock full fighting game rosters in the past, so it's nice to see a full list from the get-go in Broken Destiny. The return of the deep character creation mode means you can also add up to 16 more characters to the roster, tweaking their appearance but maintaining a familiar fighting style.
As much as we question SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny's lack of any real single-player context, we have to admit that the gameplay is set out perfectly for a portable experience. A simple AI lobby system allows you to jump into quick five minute battles against AI opponents, whereas the Trials mode scores your aggression over a 15 minute gameplay session. It's simple, easy to pick up gameplay without the need for a big investment, which is largely where people will spend their time in Broken Destiny.
If you've got a nearby buddy with a PSP and a copy of Broken Destiny, you might want to hop into a versus match with them. SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny does a good job of ensuring the game runs perfectly smoothly over this mode, without a hint of slow-down or lag. The game also shares your fighting statistics with opponents, storing them on the opposing PSP for future reference.
The most disappointing thing is the lack of any real single-player context. The quick play modes make the game a perfect choice for short bus or train journeys, but lack any real depth to hook you outside of these scenarios. The game's story mode, The Gauntlet, provides a comical storyline tied together with deeply disappointing WarioWare-esque trial-and-error training modes. While the plot's hilarious, the gameplay becomes deeply repetitive in these sections. A quality eight stage arcade mode with a rewarding end cut-scene could have given the game a bit more beef when playing in single-player.
With Broken Destiny having to fit on a UMD, it was obvious that something was going to have to give. In this instance it's not the graphics, but instead the audio, in particular speech, which sounds lossy and compressed. The actual audio samples fit the game nicely, but unfortunately the grainy quality of them makes them a tad grating.
SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny manages to nail everything that's great about the series' fighting mechanics on a portable system. While the core fighting is in place, Broken Destiny fails to be compelling when played alone due to a lack of options.