Review by Evil_Spartan177
"Not the best in the franchise, but still a great fighter in it's own right"
This review will be separated into a number of sections including: Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, Single Player, Multiplayer, and Over all, I find this format to be the easiest way of getting my points across. I'd first like to state that I am a fan of the previous Soulcalibur games and had high expectations for this game, and I am glad to announce that this game delivered on most of those expectations.
Graphics (7/10); There is no denying, the character models in this game are gorgeous and that the boobage on the female characters is so high that it would make Pamela Anderson jealous. Character armor will actually break off as the fight goes on and all of this is represented on screen. You can tell Namco put in some major time when preparing their Soulcalibur cast of characters for the next-gen market. It's sad to say, however, that the same level of detail was not put into the background environments. They still look "OK," but they look like they belong on the PS2 and not on the 360/PS3 as the environments all unfold on a single platform with no ability to launch opponents into different sections of the stage (similar to what is seen in DOA.) That being said, this is still a damn good looking game and looks fabulous when running in 1080p.
Sound (7/10); Traditional Soulcalibur. The announcer, stage and menu music, as well as much of the character voice acting sound very similar to previous games in the franchise. This is great to people who are fans of the Soulcalibur franchise as it will make them feel right at home, it is also great for new comers as all of the sound elements are well done and the weapons sound better than ever. And as this is a japanese developed game some of the voice acting on some of the characters may sound slightly idiotic (English VO anyway,) it is nothing too over the top, however, and you will get used to it quickly. There is really nothing to complain about here, as most of these elements remain unchanged from past reiterations.
Gameplay (9/10); By far the greatest aspect of the game. The gameplay mechanic remains mostly unchanged but slightly tweaked from past games in the franchise. The system remains easy to learn difficult to master and as such is very accessible to people who are new to the franchise. Majority of the combos only involve 2-5 inputs and as such allow people who have never played Soulcalibur before to perform moderately well. The key to Soulcalibur has always been more demanding on the timing of your attacks rather than memorizing 20 button combos, and this is apparent in SCIV. A new mechanic has been added to this game however, the ability to "Soul Crush" your opponents, this is done by depleting your opponents soul gauge (an Orb at the top of the screen next to their health bar.) The opponents soul gauge decreases (turns from blue to red) as they block your attacks, when their soul gauge goes empty their guard breaks and you have roughly half a second to press a button combination (LB by default on the 360 controller) this performs a devestating attack in which your character instantly kills the opponent. This is a mostly ignored mechanic as these "Soul Crush" abilities are extremely difficult to perform in real fight situations as the opponent can usually fill up his/her soul gauge (by attack you/ impacting) faster than you can deplete it which usually means that either you or the opponent will be K.O'd before the other's soul gauge reaches zero. Although this mechanic was most likely implemented to stop "turtle games" in which the one player would hit the other a few times and then proceed to play full defense until the timer ran out. Most of the cast has returned from the previous games in the franchise so if you're a fan you're more than likely to see your favorite character making a comeback (though some skill sets have been majorly changed,) there are some new characters making appearances as well such as Algol, an antagonist set on acquiring as much power as he can. Let's not forget about the Starwars characters that are present in the game, such as Yoda (360,) Darth Vader (PS3,) and Vader's apprentice "Starkiller" (both versions.) (Both Yoda and Vader will be available on both consoles eventually via Downloadable content..) The gameplay in this game just doesn't get old with so many different unique characters to play as.
Single Player (6/10); Weakest part of the game. It is just so barren and stripped down, I have no clue why Namco just couldn't give us "Weaponmaster" mode from SCII as in many people's opinions it was the best single player experience in Soulcalibur games. Instead of Weaponmaster or Chronicles of the Soul from SCIII we get a mode called "Tower of Souls."(Which I can GUARANTEE will piss you off at times, and make you want to throw your controller at your TV) This is, essentially, a glorified survival mode. You choose to either ascend or descend the tower. When ascending you choose the series of floors you want to fight through (i.e 4-7.) A "floor" is basically just a number of enemies you have to fight through in a tag-team style match, if you beat one set of enemies you will beat the floor and go on to the next (your character does not recover health between floors) and then you will fight the next batch of enemies in a tag team style match. If all of your characters die on a floor while ascending, that entire series of floors is considered "failed" and all of the previous matches in the series must be fought again which can get frustrating. Descending is the traditional survival mode in which you pick two characters and just keep fighting groups of opponents in tag-team matches (similar to ascending) until you die, your progress is judged based on which floor you descended to. As you complete challenges in the "Tower of Souls" (Challenges they don't tell you by the way, you're expected to figure out what to do based on small riddles they give to you before you begin fighting, not to mention that some of them are harder to do than not catching the clap from a big city prostitute while not using protection) you will unlock chests which contain items which you can use to customize characters. You can customize existing characters or create your own using items you've unlocked via achievements or the "Tower of Souls." The items you equip your customized characters with determine how much attack/defense/health they have aswell as their attributes which determine which skills (perks i.e Auto Nullify Ring Out A) you can put on your custom character. Other single player modes include "Story" and "Arcade" though these are just ladder based fights (You fight one enemy/set of enemies, then go on to fight an other right after.) The only difference between the two being that "story" incorporates your character's gear and skill attributes as well as unlocks the ability to purchase the character's final weapon. Where as the "Arcade" mode doesn't incorporate the stats given to your characters from gear (though still keeping the gear on aesthetically) and is only really done for score which can be posted online. The single in this game seems pretty lackluster when compared to previous games in the franchise.
Multiplayer (8/10); The multiplayer in this game is quite enjoyable though a little light on game modes, most notably, it is missing a tag-team style versus mode which is quite heavy as most of the games single player modes seem to be based around tag-team matches. What is there though is quite top notch, not much better than getting together with some friends and having an Ivy VS Taki battle of the breasts. This leads me to the next portion, the online. In all honesty I have no clue as to what everyone was complaining about. People always tell this horror story of how the online in this game is nothing but a combination of lag, 12 year olds, and attack spammers. This is not true. In playing this online for a good 7-8 hours I have only encountered maybe 4 spammers, not a single 12 year old, and not much game affecting lag as I only played with people with a 4 or better ping. The online portion of the game uses a Peer-to-peer style connection so both people's connections affect the latency of the game because of this it is important to limit your matches only to those who have good-great ping. Fighting games are very timing heavy, hence it is importance to limit the amount of delay as much as possible. As long as your internet speed is 3Mb/s (Standard Broadband) or better, you should be fine as long as you only play with people with similar or better connections. Your custom characters can also be used online. I found the online in this game to be rather enjoyable though not very special or unique. I, personally, liked the multiplayer in this game.
Overall (8/10); A great fighting game, though not the best SoulCalibur in the series. Any fan of the series should already own this game as even with its short comings its easily one of the best fighters on the 360/PS3 out so far. To people who are more into single player aspects of games, I would recommend renting this game before you buy as the single player aspect of this game can be beaten with 2 days of solid play. Bottom line is: If you have friends, Like online games, enjoy customizing characters, and generally enjoy fighting games, this game is a buy.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/04/08
Game Release: SoulCalibur IV (US, 07/29/08)
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