Success in Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny requires a sharp mind and a sharp weapon. Combat is brutal, quick and handled using the bare minimum of complex thumb acrobatics - just as it is in SCIV on PS3. Instead of a focus on impossible combos and complex throws, the fighting here is about reacting to opponents moves with swift counters, or carefully selected flurries of attacks. It's tactical; it's as much an intellectual battle of wills as it is a slugfest, and this plays to PSP's strengths.
That Calibur's fighting system has altered little since the Soul series began 13-years ago is testament to just how good it is. That it's been transferred so successfully to the PSP is impressive. Die-hard fans hoping for something new will inevitably be disappointed, but even they can't fail to be impressed at just how complete and convincing a handheld title this is.
Thankfully, it's newcomers to the series that are being targeted. The addition of a new Gauntlet mode is testament to that. It's basically a rigorous training session that reduces the ins and outs of the combat to an increasingly repetitive series of two-second mini-games. The non-canon plot too, seems to be aimed directly at people who don't take the series too seriously. It's entertainingly worded, even going so far as to drop the odd double entendre. Carry on Calibur anyone?
However, this easy entry into the world of Soul Calibur comes at a price. There are no mission modes to match the adventure or weapon master sections that have appeared in the PS2 and PS3 iterations, and you never feel as if there's anything to really get your teeth into.
Happily when it comes to the intricacies of gameplay, little introduced in Soulcalibur IV is lost, from the crowd pleasing critical finishers to the colourful visuals. The create mode is particularly impressive and the ability to unlock new items and equipment will ensure you keep coming back to fine tune your fighter. Rarely are one-on-one fighters (with the exception perhaps of realistic fight-sims such as Fight Night or UFC) quite as customisable as this.
Inevitably such care and attention to detail results in a fighter that is less throw away than the genre's arcade roots suggest. Broken Destiny is ideal for quick bouts against mates thanks to the brilliant ad-hoc versus mode, but it's the more involving challenges (such as create mode) that provide the real longevity. The focus on new players might give fans the cold shoulder but it doesn't detract from the intensity of the fighting.
Overall Soulcalibur's brutal melee combat works well on PSP, and the multi-player is great.