Review by GFlint

"Great Fighting Game, and Customization is cool, but..."

Soulcalibur IV has made some improvements, but also seemed to be lacking in some areas for me.

One Player Game Modes:

The one player modes are lame and huge steps backwards from the previous versions. You get "Story" mode, or "Arcade" mode, which really boils down to, would you like to play 5 stages or 8? Sure you get a "story" in story mode, but the skits are so short and not deep at all to really help you understand your character anymore nor lend to any good storytelling. It's almost like watching a movie, but you really just watched a few random parts that added up to a few minutes ...and most of that was just the ending.

You also get the "towers" mode which allows you to either ascend or descend (if you have ascended 20 levels or more) it. In ascension mode, you pick a character or more (depending on which levels you're on), and basically fight through a few floors of a tower with the same life bar throughout all fights. This ends up being a bunch of easy fights until you get to the last boss of the last level. At which point, you may have a decent challenge, if you're a gamer of average skill or less like myself. However, my problem here is that it doesn't make it more fun, to make you fight a bunch of reeeeeallly easy guys, wait for it to load the next floor, fight more easy guys, wait for it to load, then die on the boss, after you have fought 12 easy guys in a row (with the same lifebar), just so you can wait for it to reload the first floor and do it all again. Usually the fights are so easy they aren't worth fighting until you get to the last fight of the floor series. I'm serious when I say, I would lose about 5% of my health until the last part of the last floor of a series, at which time, I could die, and it was frustrating to have to load it all over from the beginning of that first floor in the series. It's not that I'm mad because I died, its because the previous 5-10 minutes was a waste of time, because it was tooooo easy, and I have to keep doing the realllly easy over and over. just to get back to the challenging part. Maybe, that's just me though..I understand the graphics are great and awesome and such, but Street Fighter II had faster load times between boards, and it is just distracting how long and often you have to wait for it to load. If you are doing bad early, you should be able to merely restart...but instead it has to reload everything all over...

Also in ascension mode, every floor gives an opportunity to earn more equipment and such for your customizing you can do (will get to later). Although hints are given at the beginning of these stages sometimes these hints are worthless, and I found myself referring to gamefaqs and such internet sites. The different challenges add a little to the game, but I was really hoping for something more in depth like what was in Soulcalibur II, or even III to come back. It really seems as though, this is a huge step backwards. But, I still enjoyed playing it of course. ;).

In descension mode, you are basically playing survival rounds (similar to ascension), but instead of stopping after every few floors, you keep going, and you don't have any challenges to unlock new equipment. Instead you unlock items every 5 floors or so. Ok...I didn't see much difference between this and ascension mode...but whatever.

There's also a training mode. Just as all other fighting games....'s nothing new here.

Two Player Modes:

Playing friends on the same console was great. Even better than the older games. The graphics and new additions in this game make it better than the older ones. How different sections of armor can break adds a lil drama to some fights too. Playing against friends in this game was solid technical fighting game fun...awesome.

Online sucks balls. Perhaps it was just the times I tried playing it online, but I played near 100 matches, and I'd say roughly half of them had connection problems that significantly affected the gameplay. Being a fighting game, the reflex times and split-second decision making are key. However, when the response time of your character is so slow, that you would have to predict your opponents movements almost a full second before the his character even moves, and respond at that time, makes online play almost entirely luck...or at a minimum, completely changes the fighting game element for me.... When the connection wasn't laggy it was awesome though...and seeing the many different customized characters people have made was cool. I've seen Jesus, Galford, Shinobi, Sagat, some Dynasty/Samurai Warrior remakes and others. It kind of reminded me of M.U.G.E.N. when it first came out.

Customization Mode:

This is where the game also shines...

Character Customization plus online play is one of the main reasons I was looking forward to this game. You do various things to unlock different armor/clothing pieces, and you can customize the colors of all of them, as well as the face, hair, color, and physique of your player. The armor may have different characteristics that add (or take away) from different abilities of your character, but you may also play in standard mode, so you can make your guy look how you want and not have any negative effects for doing so instead of having to make a guy that looks lame but has good stats. Your character must take a move set from one of the premade characters however (excluding Yoda, and the Apprentice, who seem to be 'special'). You can make customized versions of the normal characters in the opposite sex as well. So, you can have a female who uses Siegfried's moveset for example, or a male who uses Taki's. I was hoping that you could customize the moveset to an extent or perhaps have some newer weapon types just for them. Specifically I was hoping one non-weapon skillset. would be made..but they did make a few new characters and you can use their sets so I cant complain too much there.

Overall, the game is fun to play with others....when its not laggy. The one-player mode could have used more work, but is still somewhat entertaining and can be used for practice. The customization mode is cool, and hopefully more items and skill/weapon sets will be added as downloadable content...(c'mon make an unarmed skillset).

Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 08/04/08

Game Release: SoulCalibur IV (US, 07/29/08)

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