Soul Calibur IV Review
The Soul Calibur series has been one of the premiere fighting games since its original release on the DreamCast in 1999. The original game is called one of the best games of all time, so how does the fourth installment hold up?
The Soul Calibur series is centered around two swords, Soul Calibur and Soul Edge. Soul Edge is an evil sword while Soul Calibur is a good sword. The fighters within the series are either fighting for one sword or the other, to destroy them or use them. The story is not very coherent as every character falls into the categories i mentioned before of either wanting to destroy or use the swords. The story like in most fighting games is irrelevant and the fact that they included a “Story” mode with beginning opening text is pretty weird and useless.
So why is story mode useless you say? Well the only good thing about it is unlocking bonus characters and stages. It is ridiculously short for each character and there’s not much skilled involved, even on hard. The set up of the battles are strange to say the least. Instead of standard matches where whoever wins two battles first wins it instead has allies fighting along each other so you have to fight up to 4 characters in a row. If you lose once the “stage” is over but like i said, its ridiculously easy. Where Soul Calibur is Soul Calibur is in Arcade mode. This mode is the truest form of the series in this installment and has you pitted against 8 foes in standard matches.
The difficulty in this mode is a lot harder than the story mode with progressively harder matches. This is probably the most fun had in the single player experience of the game. The last single player mode is the Tower of lost souls. This tower has you fighting battles in a similar style to story mode except with a partner. While ascending the tower you fight story like matches and fight a boss every 2 floors. Descending the tower has you fight enemy after enemy after enemy to see how long you can last. This is also a pretty good mode but I’m still disappointed that Weapon Master Mode from Soul Calibur 2 is still missing. That was one of the best modes in the series and I’m surprised that after three, they didn’t re include it.
I just realized I haven’t really talked about how fighting works! I guess i should talk about that now. So Soul Calibur, unlike most fighting games is weapon based. Each character has his or her own weapon style, whether it be two katanas, elbow blades, giant swords etc etc. Some characters play alike while others play completely differently from the rest of the cast. The fighting is pretty well done and the characters for the most part are balanced.
The game sports a new and improved character creation system from the one featured in Soul Calibur 3. The system works pretty allowing for impressive amounts of character depth. However this mode basically nullifies the core cast. I say this because you create characters based on an existing style. For example you can create a male or female character that can look like anything but still fight like Talim. You can customize the armor, skills and just about everything of the character to fit any needs.
I fought against Night Wing online once! Character creation also makes just adding a more powerful weapon for existing characters a bit overly complicated because instead of selecting a weapon to choose at the character select screen, you have to go into character creation. From here you have to choose a character, pick a new slot and basically recreate the character. It will bring you to a screen to change the armor and look of the character and it won’t hit you until flipping through the tabs that you DON’T have to change any of the armor, you can just flip past and change skills and weapons. It is kind of misleading with this system and can probably cause some frustration.
Now for the final feature/mode of the game, online. For the most part online works pretty well. There are occasions where the system will fail to connect or find you games that are full and make you search again. There is also a bit of lagg/chance of the game causing your Ps3 to freeze during entering or exiting online or when accepting friend requests to battle. However these freezes don’t happen too frequently but they do happen so its still a problem. When the system does work matches are 98% lagg free with only a few matches having lagg. Lagg takes the form as sometimes a slight pause or to even Burst Limit level of sluggishness that can ruin a match for you. The lagg doesn’t happen too often but when it does it can be annoying. Online also features a level up feature with the players gaining experience to “level up”. This is similar to Tekken’s rank system to show the skill level of the player.
The game is, for the moment, the best looking fighting game available. The character models are extremely well done and detailed, with the exception of the faces. Some characters are pretty much emotionless in their faces and causes some pretty funny moments during opening of ending cutscenes. The music is OK with voice over work and the announcer over the top as usual.
Soul Calibur IV is one of the best fighting games on the market. Its weapon based combat is still top notch as always and its impressive character creation system make this purchase worthwhile. However the occasional lagg of the online game and the uselessness of story mode hinder this title from greatness.