SoulCalibur V

Sword-swinging sequel sets out to lay the smack down on big screen gamers

While it doesn’t quite have the same kind of brand recognition as either Street Fighter or Tekken, Namco’s SoulCalibur series has still carved itself a sizeable following amongst beat ‘em up fans. Much of this can be put down to the fact that – despite being based around similar one-on-one tournaments – the games play quite differently from the competition.

This is largely down to the series’ dedicated focus on armed combatants. The result being a slightly more cautious, cat-and-mouse style of play, rather than the endless combo juggling that has come to dominate the traditional ‘fists and feet’ beat em ‘up. Not that this latest sequel is completely averse to such gameplay mechanisms. The newly implemented Critical Edge gauge allows players to unleash devastating combos that prove extremely handy for fighting back from apparently no-win situations.

The updated gameplay is matched by stunning, ultra-fast visuals (long a trademark of the series) and a roster of additional game modes. These include a hilariously overwrought Story mode (has there ever been a one-on-one beat 'em up that had a good one?) and a fun character customisation tool that allows you to cook up some bafflingly brilliant fighters to play around with.

Namco, Xbox 360/PS3, £50 Approx, On sale now