Review by prophet_of_cool

"Slow Calibur 4 would have been more appropriate."

Soul Calibur is the 4th entry in the long running series of fighting games from Namco, this instalment marks the series' debut on the next gen platforms and does do well to bring a few new features to an already established franchise.

Like most fighting games nowadays you'll start out with the majority of characters available at the start and then unlock additional ones as you progress through the game. You being the game with 16 and exclusive characters has always been a little trait of the Soul Calibur games, this is carried on in this case with the inclusion of Yoda for the 360 and Darth Vader for the PS3. However don't expect to be doing Star Wars style ownage with Yoda straight away, a lot of practice and patience is needed to master this Jedi.

Now, the core engine of Soul Calibur really hasn't changed much, the main difference is that it plays a lot slower than previous entries in the series but the fighting engine is still pretty much unchanged. The main new feature is the addition of critical finishers, similar to the fatality system in Mortal Kombat, just without the blood and gore. These are executed when your opponent has blocked a large amount of attacks from you and results in you knocking them off balance, then you input your command and finish them with a very flashy and violent critical attack. Each character has a unique one to see and they all look very cool so there's definitely some incentive to see them all.

The character list see returns of old favourites and some new ones grace the roster, all are very deep and have a wide variety of moves to master, doing so is easier said than done but it makes victory all the sweeter. However victory is definitely inconsistent when playing the single player modes, some rounds you will absolutely destroy your CPU opponent flawlessly, then the next round they will pull some unavoidable crap out of nowhere and proceed to juggle you all the way to the continue screen. That being said, there are a lot more game modes this time around in SC4, there's the standard arcade style fight-by-fight mode and story mode where you see a characters story play out, this isn't very deep though, basically just arcade mode with fewer fights and a couple of cut-scenes. The Tower of Lost Souls is probably where you'll be spending most of your time, with a consistent difficulty curve and plenty of fights to keep you busy, you're sure to have fun here. It's basically a new take a team-battle mode where you choose one, two or three characters to face an array of enemies and unlock treasures and weapons and so forth, mainly for character customisation.

Character creation mode is where you can either edit an existing character or build your own from scratch using items you have unlocked. Both of these are a ton of fun and you can really get lost in making your character looking very unique and having their own style of fighting, there isn't a great deal of variety when it comes to fighting styles but the basis of system that has much potential is definitely evident here.

Fans of previous games will no doubt be looking forward to the online play in SC4. Albeit very basic, it does what you'd expect, you can quickly join matches with no trouble at all, even when sessions are full you don't have to wait longer than a couple of minutes to get going. You can play ranked, social and special. Ranked and social are pretty self-explanatory, special is where you can set your limits and what stage you want to play on. There are also leader-boards for every type as well as the single player modes; this is a great edition for a game that has as much depth as SC4, however with the occasional button masher online getting the better of you, a pinch of salt is recommended when looking at people's scores.

Overall, SC4 is a great game and is worth of the series, it doesn't reinvent the wheel or anything but it is a strong fighting game that will definitely appeal to fans of the genre and the franchise. While the emphasis of skill is more apparent this time around, the occasional button mash will still suffice, granted only with some characters but with the ones that it doesn't work with you can just use throws over and over again. Basically it boils down to this, if you like fighting games, maybe a rent is best for you, if you're a fan of Soul Calibur then this is the fighting game you should be playing right now, while it's not the best game in the series, it's still a great entry in it.

Overall: 7/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 08/15/08

Game Release: SoulCalibur IV (EU, 08/01/08)

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