Review by WingedRegent
A Soul Still Burns With the Flames of Victory!
As we all know, the Soul Series of games has had it's ups (Soul Blade and Soul Calibur) and downs (Soul Calibur II's guest characters and SC III's Chronicles of the Sword and gameplay). The latest game in the series promises to be the best one of the entire franchise. Can this game top the original Soul Blade?
The PS3 Engine really pushes this game's graphical capabilities through the roof, allowing for some fantastic detailing and definition in the armor and the clothing of the characters. Characters like Siegfried, Nightmare, Taki, and Hilde look especially phenomenal with the beautiful graphics of the game, the small details in the armor just popping out at you as you look over the characters, while Taki's outfit has a great sense of definition, her curves being visible in her skintight kunoichi outfit as the clothes meld with her body. The game also plays in Wide-Screen format, giving the game a smoother look to it. Overall, this is easily one of the best looking games out there right now.
The sounds in the game are also well-done, the slashes sounding as painful as they look when they connect and even the hum for Darth Vader of the PS3 version sounds spot on. The sounds as the blades clash is also dead-on perfect, leaving a resounding *clang* sound as they connect. The VA, both English and Japanese, sounds amazingly well done, most characters getting replaced with someone new for this new game. Personally, I do miss Crispin Freemen as Siegfried, but the new VA they have for him fits Siegfried much better. The VA for Darth Vader also does an astounding job of portraying the Dark Lord, even fooling me into thinking that it was James Earl Jones.
Let's not forget the bulk of the sound...The music in SC IV is amazingly done. Some of it is redone music from SC III, but the changes in the music stand out so much, you can almost call it a new song altogether. The songs suit each stage and character perfectly. Also, due to the 2 Star Wars characters in the game, several SW songs, such as the Imperial March, The Main SW Theme, and my fav, The Duel of the Fates, have been added to the game to accompany the characters. Oddly enough, the songs do fit perfectly in the game, especially the Duel of the Fates. Overall, this game has some of the best ear candy of all.
The game's strongest point is the gameplay by far. This time, you HAVE to play as everyone to unlock their weapons and there are 33 or so characters to play with, half of which are hidden at the start of the game. There is alot of variety between the characters, from Zweihander wielders Siegfried and Nightmare to Staff wielder Kilik to Samurai Mitsurugi. Each character has their own learning curve to get adjusted to, as well as their own appeal and their own fighting style, allowing for the player to utilize the character as they can use them best. Unique to SC IV are the new guest characters. The first I will touch upon are the SW characters, Darth Vader and the Apprentice. Darth Vader plays like you've seen him in the movies. His moves are slow, but powerful, and he can outmatch most with sheer power. Also, he utilizes the Force to push, grip, and choke in his moves. The Apprentice, on the other hand, is incredibly fast and powerful, not compromising speed for power. He uses the Force the same way he would in the Force Unleashed game: Lightning, Repulse, and Jump, the Jump able to be used to link into a chain of saber slashes or another jolt of Force Lightning. The Apprentice, in the right hands, is downright fantastic to watch in a fight, myself being almost mesmerized during my fight against him. With all of these different characters, there shouldn't be a single disappointed fan...unless you like Li Long and Hwang.
The game modes are straight forward. There is the Arcade Mode, which takes you through 8 stages of fighting, with every stage after Stage 3 being pre-determined. Next, there is the Story Mode, which takes you through the story of the characters involved. It contains 5 stages only, but I give them a pass on this considering that most of the characters' stories already bring them to Ostriensburg, the place where Soul Edge and Soul Calibur are destined to clash. Therefore, 5 stages is enough for me as a story mode. The endings are all well animated, using the real time graphics of the game to present the endings. There is also a Tower of Lost Souls, a mod which acts as the challenge mode of the game, giving you various tasks to unlock new equipment for your Created Characters and the normal cast.
Also in the game is, as I mentioned earlier, complete character customization. Not only can you create your own character from scratch, but now, you can customize an existing character's equipment, creating a multitude of outfits and possibilities. The game even makes icons for that outfit you made, recognizing the new look fully. This is also where you buy and equip your weapons.
The Versus Mode in the game allows for two people to fight. New to the series is that it allows you to fight the CPU in one-on-one fights just for the fun of it. A great addition for those just wanting a fight for fun.
The Museum in the game is pretty vast, allowing you to buy new Artwork, view events from Story Mode, view your records, and now, view an all new Chain of Souls, which shows how every character in SC IV is linked to the other and why. It shows some pretty interesting links in the game, like what role does Kilik play in the story and where does the new character Hilde fall? Also, all of the opening Story Mode pieces are under each character's profile in the Chain of Souls, so in case you missed them, there they are for your reading pleasure.
Lastly, there is online. Unfortunately, I do not have the means to play online yet, so I cannot rate this stat....yet. When I can, I will.
This is easily one of the best fighting games I've ever played and a definite must own for the PS3.
Buy, Rent, or Avoid: Must Buy if you like the Soul Series. Buy if you like fighting games. Rent if you are interested. Avoid if you dislike fighting games.
This game should not be passed up and belongs on every fighting gamers' library.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: SoulCalibur IV (US, 07/29/08)
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