Review by Mephistofun
"Casual Gamers? This is your beat-em-up."
I love this game. I'm old enough to feel guilty about playing computer games and work and home commitments have reduced my game playing time to a fraction of what it once was but this game still lets me play on line and have fun without the hours of practice. I can't say that it's perfect. Some of the characters seem unbalanced, and there are a handful (Seigfried I'm looking at you) are devastating in the hands of a button bashing noob but a reasonable player can out play such tactics. Not every time; the button basher and even players as inept as myself will occasionally fluke a win against a far stronger player, but generally speaking the matches end up feeling fair. Getting into an online match is easy, the game engine allows for lots of tactical playing and encourages players to mix up their moves rather than going for cheesy, one move wins or constant knockouts and the whole cabooldle feels far more accessible than Virtua Fighter and even Dead or Alive. (For those who are interested it has the same bouncy physics. Yeah you know what I mean...)
The Single player modes are kind of a disappointment. There is no quest mode. It's been replaced by a cross between a survival mode and arcade mode. You scale a tower in floors. Each floor is not one bout but several, often against multiple enemies too where you have the same health bar each time. You often get to choose two characters to tag in and out with, resting one and playing the other but this sometimes feels unfair as you climb three floors in one go, have a sliver of health left with one character and then come up against a team of 3 minions and a boss. Lots of retreading the same ground and it can get very tiresome.
The story mode somehow manages to seem a little short, even though the stories are good and Arcade feels like the main mode somehow by having a more traditional approach to the journey towards the end boss. Thank you Namco for not making the boss cheesy. He floats, has a projectile move and drops a huge stone chair on your head from time to time but incredibly you don't feel cheated. He's actually quite balanced. Yoda on the other hand doesn't work too well. You can't throw him because he's too small but they could have allowed us to drop kick him instead perhaps. He can throw you of course and he appears very powerful at first. Then you do a Yoda VS Yoda match and watch his array of acrobatic air moves all fall apart as the opposite green goblin sits underneath every attack. By far the most entertaining bit is the Character Creation. Casual gamers will love it too. You collect clothes that can be assembled into an outfit. It is surprisingly flexible, allowing for some really weird combinations. It has the odd glitch, for instance a long sleeved outfit can go under a short sleeve one at times and be invisible until some one 'breaks' the top layer in VS and the under garment appears but dressing up your fighter is often more fun than the fighting. The fighting is brilliant, I just find dressing my little fighters more fun at times.
This is a fighting game for the post pub crawl. It's the fighting game for the common man. You don't need 100 hours of play to get into it. You can button bash to your hearts content. A good player will punish spamming moves over and over but mixing the button bashing around lets those with no skills win just enough to make them feel like they deserve the win and lets the semi-skilled player beat them just enough to keep them interested. Namco have created a great game and reintroduced me to dressing dolls..... No actually, best not post that last bit....
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/09/08
Game Release: SoulCalibur IV (EU, 08/01/08)
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