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Soulcalibur Legends' Complex Problem
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 15, 2008   |   Episode 141 (Show Archive)  

   

Each issue of Complex Magazine comes with two covers, one that features a woman and one that features a man. We went with the woman!
This probably won't come as a surprise to most people, but Soulcalibur Legends is a train wreck of a game. That's not to say that it didn't have potential, the game already had a rich story from four previous titles, there were some interesting characters, and everybody loves fighting with huge weapons. But just like Death By Degrees and Mortal Kombat Mythologies, Soulcalibur Legends was one terrible design choice after another. What did the Wii ever do to Namco Bandai to earn this kind of slap in the face? Surely the team behind one of the best fighting games of all time can come up with something more compelling than this utter waste of disc space.

And it's not just me who is dogging on Namco's action/fighting hybrid. GameSpot said that we would be "better off pretending that this spin-off never existed," and 1up concludes that

Soulcalibur Legends may not be the worst video game spin-off of all time, but it certainly isn't worth the time to talk about!
the game doesn't feel like a full game. The average rating according to GameRankings.com is somewhere in the 50s, which is a far fall from the highs of Soul Calibur 1 and 2. I think we're going to have to face it; Soulcalibur Legends is a terrible game that should never be talked about.

So if that's the case, why is it that Complex Magazine has spent the last six months trying to get you to buy it? Since last summer, Complex Magazine (the crazy flipper magazine put out by fashion icon, Marc Echo) has spent every issue pimping this Soul Calibur spin-off, which is more than a little curious given the quality of the title.


As you can imagine, there are a lot of Marc Echo commercials in every issue of Complex Magazine!
Perhaps I should back up. Before I get too ahead of myself I should probably slow down and give this story some context. Six months ago I received my first issue of Complex Magazine. I had never heard of this magazine, but it didn't seem too out of the norm sine a lot of magazines are sent to the Defunct Games offices for free. I skimmed through the magazine looking for something good, but from what I could tell from my cursory glance the magazine was nothing but expensive pants, big breasted women and advertisements for shows. Lots and lots of shoes. The gimmick of Complex was that it was two magazines in one, half of it was right-side-up, while the other half you had to flip to read (much like those old Archie comics). I thumbed through this bizarre magazine to see if anything would catch my eye ... but nothing did.

It wasn't until a few weeks later that I realized that Complex Magazine

Talk about bad timing, Complex Magazine's "Woman of Next Year" was sidelined by the writer's strike!
was more than just fashion advice, it also featured movie and music reviews. And on top of that, Complex featured one page in each magazine devoted entirely to video games. At first I was worried that this was the extent of their video game coverage, but thankfully Marc Echo came through with a few more pages scattered around the issue. It was while looking through this October/November 2007 issue that I discovered that Complex had recommended Soulcalibur Legends, a game it sounded like they hadn't played (and one that was heavily advertising in their magazine).

I didn't think much of the Soulcalibur Legends recommendation when I first read it, I figured that it was probably given a pass because of the fact that it's connected to one of the greatest fighting games of all time. It seemed painfully obvious that Complex Magazine was reviewing games that weren't even done by the time they had to submit the articles, including scoring games like Too Human and Mercenaries 2 months before they are complete. It seemed perfectly clear that when it came to video games, Complex should not be your most trusted source.


This disturbing picture was brought to you by PajamaGram.com!
But it wasn't until the December/January issue showed up in my mailbox that I started to get a little concerned about the magazine's video game correspondents (if you can even call them that). This time around it wasn't one of their reviews, but rather the Complex Holiday Gift Guide, a "What's Hot For Winter" section that listed some of the hottest clothes, cars, gadgets and games to check out while the weather is cold outside.

As expected the holiday guide covered a lot of predictable ground, Complex recommended PajamaGram.com, Ray-Ban sunglasses, PUMA jeans, and an ugly ENYCE sweater-thing. Scattered throughout this guide were some games, including my pick for game of the year, Puzzle Quest (which they liked the most on the Nintendo Wii for whatever reason), Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation

Why is it that I never see this kind of cosplay when I go to conventions?
(which isn't my thing, but certainly received solid scores from the critics) and Soulcalibur Legends. Wait ... Soulcalibur Legends? What reason could they possibly give for recommending Soulcalibur Legends over, say, The Orange Box, Halo 3, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Super Mario Galaxy or any one of the countless other triple-A games released at the end of 2007?

"Soulcalibur, the unparalleled weapon based fighting game franchise, reinvents itself as Soulcalibur Legends, a 3rd person action adventure, exclusively for the Nintendo Wii console."

That's right, that's all they said about Soulcalibur Legends. They didn't really give you a reason to want it (unless you're somebody who must buy everything Wii or Soulcalibur related) and at no time does it feel like the uncredited writer actually has an opinion about the game. At least with Puzzle

If I had my way I would include Puzzle Quest in every article, no matter how irrelevant it is!
Quest they said, "Experience a puzzle game like nothing you have ever played before," which might be hyperbole, but at least it sounds like an editorial statement. Complex couldn't even come up with a half-assed reason to recommend Soulcalibur Legends; it's as if they just copied a statement out of the Namco press release.

Obviously this made me chuckle; as a guy who doesn't like holiday buyer's guide-type articles this put a smile on my face. But where's the story in that? So what, two different issues featured Soulcalibur Legends, that's hardly news worth alerting the masses. And you're right, if it was just those two issues I would probably write it off as nothing more than a strange coincidence. Who knows, maybe one of the editors at the magazine actually liked the game. It's not out of the realm of possibility that somebody would disagree with every game critic in the world.

But the reason I bring this up is because it wasn't just those two issues ... it was three. That's right; the very next issue (February/March 2008) featured yet another blurb about this Wii action game. The blurb (which is located next to a Trojan Vibrating Ring condoms advertisement) starts, "Soulcalibur,

Complex Magazine knows that there's nothing more fashionable than a couple of mass murdering sociopaths with mental issues, because that's hot!
the unparalleled weapon based fighting game franchise, reinvents itself as Soulcalibur Legends, a 3rd person action adventure, exclusively for the Nintendo Wii console." That's right; Complex used the exact same quote from the December/January issue.

I would hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it seems clear that this what being a high profile advertiser will get you, some real press in Complex Magazine. Journalistic integrity aside, I'm more offended that Complex tried pulling this stunt off with a game like Soulcalibur Legends. If this was about a good game it would hardly be worth pointing out, while I'm sure a few people would have found it funny, I'm sure nobody would care if Complex was pimping The Orange Box. But when they recommend Soulcalibur Legends three issues in a row, you have to figure something's up.

The real problem here is that all this talk about Soulcalibur Legends has taken away from the real issue - the video game coverage in Complex Magazine is woefully inadequate. This is the magazine that gave Super Smash Bros. Brawl a low score, devoted eight pages to Kane & Lynch fashion tips, and reviewed Too Human more than six months before its release. Going to Complex Magazine for video game advice is like going to a football game expecting to get tax advice.
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