"Unbalanced"

Correct, just as the title suggests. This game is unbalanced. The Soul Calibur series has had a famous reputation for executing good weapon combat fighting games beginning with Soul Edge. It's rumored that this is the last of the series and the best looking (obviously).

The story is very shallow. If you're playing this game for the story then don't expect anything breakthrough or original. There is no fighting game with a good story. From what I can tell by watching the cinematics, each character in the game has their own business with Algol or their rival but it ultimately leads to some connection with the Soul Swords. There is no canon ending so I guess Namco can open up for a next Soul Calibur sequel. Soul Calibur 4 introduces 2 new characters and 5 bonus characters. The 2 new characters are Hilde and Algol. Hilde has a "unique" fighting style of wielding a sword and a spear. Algol is the last boss of the game. The 5 bonus characters are original characters designed by different famous Japanese artists but their fighting styles are just copies of current characters.

Aside from the story mode there is Tower of Lost Souls which sort of makes up for the failure mode that is Weapon Master and Tales of Souls from the previous games. It's basically a series of fight stages with different CPUs and it becomes a lot more difficult as you ascend or descend the tower. Items can also be unlocked by secret conditions during matches. More items can be attained by unlocking honors (achievements).

Speaking of items, Soul Calibur 4 has brought back their custom character creation mode, Create a Soul. From here, you can customize current roster characters or make your own by selecting the weapon style based off the current characters. Character creation has surprisingly a lot to offer. You can customize headwear, shoulderwear, shirts, armor, pants, socks, and footwear as well as the ability to adjust their physiology. Unfortunately there are some limitations such as Player 1 models, Star Wars characters, and bonus characters cannot be customized but it's no big deal. This game offers over 100+ articles of clothing, armor, and weapons. All items also come with stats and skill points. Stats attribute to your attack damage, health, and defense while skill points allow you to assign perks. These added stats will effect the game during story mode or special versus modes.

Another mode is the online mode. For the first time ever, Soul Calibur 4 can be played online. There are no regional restrictions. You can connect to other countries and fight. The online mode is a great addition however, there are some lag issues. You can not actually see it but you can feel it. Command registration may come slow and you won't be able to link combos but this tiny lag issue can be adapted to. If you're not annoyed by the lag, be prepared to be annoyed by live players and mic spammers.

Like I mentioned before, this game is unbalanced. Nearly half of the game's roster has characters who are too quick, much too long ranged, and spamming characters. By spamming, I mean characters who can unleash their "true power" but pressing random buttons. I won't argue and I won't go in deep about each character but I will say that this game is a total button masher. A newbie can beat a "pro" easily. Ring out stages return.

The ability to destroy your opponent's clothing is unnecessary and the new Critical Finishers are basically instant death to blockers. They can be executed by watching a green orb with eventually becomes red to blockers after a number of attacks. Once it breaks, press all the face buttons on the controllers to enter cliche cinematics.

Story - 3/10. Not original. Too short. No canonical story.

Design - 9/10. Superb graphics. Character creation is fun and online mode is a great addition.

Gameplay - 5/10. Broken gameplay with dominately unbalanced characters.

It's a fair fighting game and enjoyable if you win but it can become a nasty turnabout against unforgivable players. Character creation is fun and it might take up most of your time.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 08/26/08

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


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