Review by Jesterex
"Maxi, has been seriously injured, but the Soul Still BURNS!!!"
Soul Calibur IV is the latest installment of the critically acclaimed Soul Calibur series. What started as Namco's response rip-off of Killer Instinct has become one of the most popular games of our time joining the ranks of Namco's other fighter, Tekken, Capcom's Street Fighter, and SNK's King of Fighters. Soul Calibur IV is quite possibly the oddest game in the series in terms of features and response from other players. This review, in fact, is going to be a little different due to the amount of capability the game has. While my reviews are for Gameplay, Replayability, Story, and Graphics, I've also come to add the Character Creation feature and online mode reviews to the roster seeing as how a lot of the development focused on these two options. XBoX Live is probably the widest online console experience throughout the world followed by Sony's PlayOnline and Nintendo Wii's Wiinternet. So, without further ado, I present my review to Soul Calibur IV.
STORY:: 6/10 ::
The same story continues with a lack of credibility and lineage. With all characters, the story is different in the ways they end the game, and not a single one could even come close to canonical ending. Still, each individual storyline greatly deepens each character in emotions, intentions, and capability. This means that each character can relate to a person in real life. Mine, personally, is Kilik. Story is the same as previous games and continues to try to end the series, but with the Cervantes, Astaroth, and Nightmare endings, we can find a little more than the end to this story, and the beginning of a new one. One thing I'd like to point out with the storyline is how well each character's profile is detailed. Each character has a profile that closely sticks to their own fighting style and personality. From European great swords, Siegfried and Nightmare, to Hilde's German Spear and Sword, to Xianghua's and Kilik's chinese sword and staff respectively, to even escrimador Talim's filipino martial arts, we can find each and every character to relate to their heritage. It adds greatly to the story and puts a particular influence to the players. Still, even with the good, it's hard to follow the story from beginning to the end. Another cliffhanger for the Soul Calibur enthusiast.
GAMEPLAY:: 910 ::
The standard gameplay is back and fits nicely into the XBoX and Playstation 3's controllers. All the original button configurations stay the same with a replacement to what used to be Soul Charge. That's right, the game lacks Soul Charge. I found that the absence of the feature kind of dries down the story as well as the gameplay, but even with that gone, we can still find new ways to pummel our opponents a la Soul Crush. We've seen throughout the past games that the button G for Guard has come in handy for those who like to poke and run. Well, there will be no more of that in this game. Thanks to the new soul gauge you can bet that just blocking your way out of time won't do the trick anymore especially if your opponent knows what he's doing. No matter the health, you will instantly die with soul crush. As for the other standards the game has improved its button sensitivity and combo completion factors meaning that you will definitely do that if you push this, and if you don't, you won't. Parry or guard impact is still here, as it was in previous games, with an addition of "Just Impact," which is performed at exact timing and decreases your opponent's soul gauge even more. Some will notice since Soul Calibur that the moveset has changed for all characters dramatically (exluding Hilde and the guest characters Yoda and The Apprentice). Project Soul has continually created new combos for each game and this one proves to be no different. With the right amount of training and experience, even newbies can pummel their way into top rankings online or highest scores in-game. Overall, besides the lack of certain features, this game is top-notch with its gameplay.
There really aren't enough costumes, designs, artwork, and weapons to obtain here on in. That or it's just too easy to get all of them. The real replayability is with Soul Calibur's introduction to online play. Just as other XBoX Live games, Soul Calibur has entered a new direction in online tournaments joining other mass multiplayer games such as Halo and Call of Duty. I can't imagine how many fights I've gone through just to reach level 100 online and play with other players who like to talk. Within the game, however, replayability is kind of lacking. The tower of souls seems to be just another achievement a player can obtain although the challenges are worthy of the veteran Soul Calibur enthusiast. The story mode is a little off, and if anything, Arcade mode is just there. This is definitely NOT a solo player's paradise. Still, the thing that offsets the lack of features is something that any true Soul Calibur fan can attest to. Just the amount of characters to master is something that any true fighting game fan can appreciate. I've only mastered Kilik, but there's something about other characters that I just want to delve into and learn. That's where the real replayability is at, and in my opinion, the biggest asset to the Soul Calibur series.
GRAPHICS:: 10/10 ::
The graphics engine used in the game is incredible. The environments look staggeringly realistic, and everything about each characters models is near perfect. There's so much to take in by the human eye that you'll never want to play in 480p ever again with this game. The physics with even the clothes that stick to their backs is dramatically detailed and that even goes for the character creation items with a few knicks on the capes. The only thing that the game could improve on is the weapon handling. It seems as though sometimes Mitsurugi isn't holding his sword right. The character models themselves are incredible. All the detail anybody would want in a character is there. From the engrossing Voldo to Ivy's "look at my boobs" costume, we can all tell that the creators were definitely into making each character look great. All in all, there is nothing wrong graphically with this game. Add to the realism more, and you just might get a stunningly graphic Soul Calibur. Oh, one thing to add... where are the skidding ice levels or the random burn levels that Soul Calibur III had? Someone run that by Project Soul please...
CHARACTER CREATION:: 8/10 ::
Ahh, the well-known character creation. Well, what can I say? This is where, for some people who like doing their gundam models and car diorama's, the cake is at. There is virtually limitless possibilities that this can go through including downloads and extra content for online savvy console gamers. A few added features, such as physical muscularity and voice manipulation, add to the distinct realism the game has to offer. Each created character can come closely to the character in your mind. However, it may be a little hard to get the stats for your character to go along with the look you feel like having. For the anime fanatics that like to reproduce their favorite characters (I, myself, have created all the Sailor Scouts including Tuxedo Mask and the Sailor Stars) to the imaginary minds of gamers everywhere, the soul still burns with creativity within character creation. The biggest gripe that I have to the new character creation is the lack of added styles that Soul Calibur III used to have. There were three added to the roster of Soul Calibur III and they are all absent within the pictures. To replace them, we have new characters that couldn't recently be played or were absent themselves from the game. These new characters include Amy and Hilde. Amy now has a style of her own as well as a storyline, which all of us know, relates to the evil spanish sword artist, Raphael. Hilde's new style consists of the German Spear and Sword combination. This counters the absence of the three styles introduced in Soul Calibur III. I kind of miss the entire Dragonball Z staff in SCIII. Still, Character Creation in Soul Calibur IV has taken a new meaning to the word "Soul."
XBoX LIVE:: 7/10 ::
The online giant, XBoX Live, has proved useful and capable of running a giant such as Soul Calibur. There are a few things to complain about, and that's where the 7 comes in. For most, it will seem like forever to get a match especially with the quickplay option. Your best bet is to host a match and wait for your opponent. Also, there seems to be a 32 millisecond delay in button pressing and that goes for even the best latencies. Somewhere out there, an update will be released to remedy such flaws. On the bright side, the level system seem perfect for anybody wanting to see how good they rank against other players. It's determined by the amount of wins, and not the win/loss ratio like some used to believe meaning that your rank will never be determined by how much you lose. The pairing for your friends and buddies also requires a restart in the game. Well, that's not really a gripe. I love taking on my friends.
All in all, the focus in Soul Calibur IV is a worthy opponent in the realm of fighting games. The series itself is the giant to melee based weapon combat. A wide variety of styles coupled with features to kill any boredom... at least for an hour or two. Graphically visual, seemingly flawless combat control system, online capability, and character creation... what more can one person want? Wait, I know, HOW ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN MODE IN THE ARCADE SOUL CALIBUR II?! Now that... would make this game worthy of a 10. However, if you were to pit this game against any others in the genre, this game would beat it down with the tagline "I can't lose to the likes of you..."
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 10/10/08
Game Release: SoulCalibur IV (US, 07/29/08)
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