Review by red_latias77

"Quite addictive; however, previous Soul games are better in some ways"

Soul Calibur IV is the fifth installment in the Soul series and the successor to Soul Calibur III- however; it seems a bit lackluster in some areas compared to previous games in the series.

Gameplay: 6/10
The gameplay of Soul Calibur IV is nothing less than I would expect from a generic fighting game. It is composed of the regular HP bar that, when empty, you lose the round.

However, Soul Calibur IV has an added ‘Soul Gauge' that gradually decreases when you are attacked while you are guarding against an attack.

If you guard too much, then you will enter a ‘Soul Crush' condition and your opponent can perform a Critical Finish, which ends the round instantly with the opponent winning.

The addition of the Soul Gauge is relatively useless in many matches since using a throw would already negate a guard.

Also, something that I have never understood even since the original Soul Blade, is that they swap X for A and Y for B in the moves list. It does not help beginners one bit and it can get very confusing unless you have memorized the button combinations perfectly.

A downfall in the gameplay is that the characters with long-reaching weapons (most notably Kilik) tend to be the best characters (or rather, the easiest to win with). Most of the other characters are balanced, which makes for good gameplay.

One notable thing is the addition of Star Wars characters. I feel that it makes no sense to randomly add Star Wars characters in a fighting game such as this and I think it's unnatural- the only reason that they're in this game anyway is to promote the new Star Wars game, which is ridiculous.

Why one game should be used to promote a completely different game is beyond me.

Now, about the game modes:

Soul Calibur IV has the regular story mode that seems a lot worse than in its predecessors. Now, it simply has 5 very similar stages that don't feel very different with any other characters because it follows the same formula for every character.

It's too linear and boring for it to be appealing to play through with every single character- there should be at least an achievement or a new unlocked character for completing it with all other characters.

Next, the arcade mode. The arcade mode follows the basic formula of one foe per stage and 9 stages. Although it is the same for every character, at least you know what you are getting when you choose to play through it.

However, the Tower of Lost Souls is where Soul Calibur IV loses its playability.

The Tower of Lost Souls features a linear tower where you must ascend 60 floors. It is not enjoyable and gets very repetitive and the requirements for the treasures get very tedious and annoying at times.

I don't want to have to replay the same stage 5 times so I can complete a stage with the timer on ‘0'. It just isn't as playable as the Weapon Master mode featured in previous games.

Also, you have the option to descend. It follows a basic format of ‘beat as many opponents as you can without losing'. Now, although it can be tough to reach the achievement, it can be fun seeing how far you can get on one try.

Finally, the Create a Soul mode. This is what I believe to be the best part of the game. Although creating characters for the aforementioned game modes can be not as fulfilling as it can be showing your new character off online, it is very customizable and fun.

However, the Create a Soul mode has a huge downfall- the skills and stats. The addition of these makes creating characters become something of a chore as you try to create a character you like that has stats that aren't terrible (so you can use them in versus special mode and the Tower).

The high amount of customizability is the main thing which makes Create a Soul mode what it is. However, it lacks pieces of equipment that go together harmoniously- the ‘suits' are the main things that go well together. But still, it isn't a gamebreaking thing.

Basically, the gameplay is not terrible, but it has various flaws that should be corrected if there is another Soul Calibur.

Story: 3/10
The story of Soul Calibur on a whole has potential. It could have a pleasing story for a fighting game.

..but Soul Calibur IV simply has a paragraph of text at the beginning of the characters story and a short video at the end showing what the character done after defeating the boss. It is much too shallow considering the effort put into the story in its previous games.

Also, it does not explain fully what actually happened to the character duringthe story of Soul Calibur IV- since it simply has the same videos inbetween the stages and it barely explains anything.

Also, the story lacks variety. The 3rd and 5th stages of story mode are very similar for characters (most notably the 3rd stage, which seems to have no relevance to the actual character's story anyway).

The story just seems like it had barely any effort put into it.

Graphics: 9/10
To put it simply, Soul Calibur IV has excellent graphics. It shows just how much potential the Xbox 360 can have when it comes to games such as this.

The graphics are very detailed- from the fluttering of a characters cape on a windy stage to the brilliantly created atmospheres. The graphics are not a letdown and I hope it stays the same (or gets better) for any future sequels.

Sound: 10/10
The sound is also excellent. It really helps to add to the atmosphere, and the characters seem to be accurately voiced. There aren't really any problems here.

Replayability: 3/10
However, that's where Soul Calibur IV's good points fall. The 1-player modes (Story, Tower of Lost Souls, Arcade) don't really seem that attractive after you have completed the game and got all of the achievements.

The story mode is only worth playing to see the various endings that all of the characters have and loses a lot of playability after all of the endings have been unlocked.

The Tower of Lost Souls has virtually no replayability afterwards because some of the stages are very difficult to complete (the chances are that you have already tried to complete the stage many times to get the treasure) and the idea of replaying that stage would not be very appealing whatsoever.

The Arcade mode seems to be the most playable after you have got its achievements because you may want to try to see if you can beat your previous record on it.

The Create a Soul mode doesn't really get boring until you feel you have created as many characters with specific designs as you can.

It can annoy you when you decided to create a character and you get the ‘too many characters have been created' message, and you don't want to delete a previously created character.

The multiplayer modes don't really lose replayability as each game will most likely be different if you play online or offline. It would just be simple play-to-win games until you got bored, but there would still be other modes to go on when you finally did.

Overall Score: 6/10
I feel that although this game lacks a lot in various areas, it is still fun to play and can still get very addictive until you have got that very last achievement.

Final Recommendation: Buy

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 08/29/08

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

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