Without much competition, Soulcalibur stands as the ultimate 3D weapons-based fighter. Its simple, fluid combat is highlighted by gorgeous battle effects, ring outs, parrying, critical finishes and a diverse roster of combatants. While not as delightfully jiggly as the Dead or Alive series, Soulcalibur has its own share of mesmerizing assets. The female characters' amplitude seems to grow with each revision, while dudes have been hulking up to carry ridiculous swords and sundry other weapons into the battle arena. Console fans have been enjoying the latest version, IV, for over a year. Now the handheld crowd can get in on the action as well. Broken Destiny is a stripped down version of IV for the PSP that stands up visually, but sits down for its lack of modes.
Here's the problem: the ad hoc versus mode requires another nearby PSP and copy of the game. If you have that, chances are might also have the bigger, better version on console. This port should have been aimed at the Soulcalibur fan who wanted to wirelessly challege players anytime, anywhere, so the lack of an online mode really hurts. One would expect a more robust single-player mode to make up for it, but there really isn't one. There is a Gauntlet mode that effectively teaches you the minutia of the battle system, but it's also full of frustration and boredom as you block low, then block low again, then attack your opponent ad naseum. Fine for a training mode--but there already is a proper training mode. This is the mode for single-player, a sad replacement for a true story mode. What about new players who know nothing of the SC universe? Sure, fighting games aren't often known for their storylines, but it's still important to provide a reason to play the game, especially when the focus isn't online competition. As it stands, Broken Destiny is a portable training tool for the player who already owns a console version, and just wants to hack away at AI enemies, or compete locally with friends.
Lacking the Star Wars characters of its big brother versions, Broken Destiny brings God of War's Kratos to the mix. He plays well and has some powerful combos. It would actually be nice to have him on the console versions. The controls are responsive and the game plays fast and furious with the block, horizontal, vertical, and kick attacks mapped to the main buttons. The selling point of Soulcalibur has always been flashy combos, lighting effects, and nasty ringouts. Broken Destiny doesn't disappoint with more than 25 characters, and the option to customize your own. The combo system is simple, relying on juggles to extend damage. Winning means either draining the life bar or performing a ring out; a technique that certain characters--such as Hilde--are especially good at. Armor breaking and critical finishes (think instant kills) round out the variety of options coming down from IV. As for other modes, there are: Quick Match (for AI battles), Trials, Versus (for ad hoc), and Training.
Broken Destiny will fight for your attention like a middle-child (I know because I am one). It wants to surpass the console version, but it just doesn't have the tools. The graphics are top-notch and the gameplay is smooth and flashy, but AI enemies are never as exciting as playing human opponents. If you don't own either an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, then Broken Destiny will suffice, though you better find someone else nearby who also has a copy to get the full impact. The result is a solid title limited by a lack of true online and story modes.