After a very Disappointing SoulCalibur III, I was under the assumption that the new installment, SoulCalibur IV wasn’t going to be much better. Then one day after flipping though a gaming magazine oh about 6 months ago, there it was, Yoda on the cover. That is all SoulCalibur needed to get my attention once again. Yoda would be exclusive to X-box 360 and Darth Vader to PS3, so my expectations went up about 10 notches. Then there was months of trailers, screen shots, and there was nothing better then watching the graphics of Yoda just kicking everyone to a pulp. So was I excited like a kid in a candy store when I got my review copy. I definitely was itching to release the force on someone today.
Top notch and impressive, I watched the very nicely put together story line; the graphics were fluid and what you would expect from a game of this type on an X-Box 360. The detail of the characters down to their clothes and weaponry made it seem like you were even more immersed with the game. Even if some of the women characters didn’t seem to be wearing much clothes at all…
Playing the Game:
The overall story line is still the same as SoulCalibur III with the exception of two new characters and the cameo of Yoda and Darth Vader’s Apprentice. Every character has a back story, which is not clear to me and along their journey’s they cross paths with other characters and fight to the death. There are 3 forms of game play now, one of them being story mode, where you select 2 characters that you can switch to during the battle, so essentially you have 2 lives but you face 4 enemies on the 1st board. The key to getting through a round is to conserve your life. If one of the characters you selected dies, you still continue through but with only the character you have left. So as you win battles you go through your story, actually climbing the Tower of Lost Souls.
The second is arcade mode, which is a great way to go through the game or to battle against a friend. The game play is overall very easy. I am quoting my colleague Spencer, who was testing the game with me, “this is a real button masher!”, no matter what you hit, a player will be able to put together some sort of attack or defensive move. On easy mode a beginner gamer should be able to eventually get through all the characters. When I got to a certain point I found myself on a star destroyer facing the Dark Apprentice, where I got pummeled the first dozen times, but if you consistently hit a combo of attack buttons you will eventually get through the fight. This is where the button masher reference came from. The 3rd mode is Xbox live which obviously means you can take the action online. The matches are fought on various 3D themed stages and you are able to hit your opponent off of the ring which is an automatic win. Do be careful, I must have died a dozen times performing an attack combo and falling off by myself. One point that really turned me off is that there is no jump button. Characters jump but it is built into the attack or defensive moves, which is really annoying. It can make you jump into a hit or away from where you wanted to be.
SoulCalibur 4 also featured a soul gauge and critical finish. This is another qualm I had with the game. The Soul gauge is sort of a power boost. When an opponent becomes disoriented from being hit too much you can attack using your soul gauge power and it would perform a special move or critical finish at the end, In the time I was playing the game I had only seen it once so don’t get your hopes up I only have 2 words to say (Mortal Combat). For Yoda and The Apprentice they give the Force gauge and the same for Darth Vader on the PS3, but again I saw it once in the time I was playing it, which was several days. If you use your entire soul or force gauge this will put you in a disorientated state and you will not be able to defend yourself against attacks.
Out of all the characters my 3 favorite were Cassandra, Raphael and the cameo from Yoda. Cassandra was agile, and fast but she still packs a punch. She was great for a fast attack but able to get back on the defensive really quick. Her weapon being a sword made it good where you didn’t have to commit yourself to close to your enemy (YAY girl power!) Raphael was the same premises as Cassandra. He was quick, strong, packed a strong attack as well as less effective quick attacks which a lot of the bigger characters could not keep up with. Finally Yoda, his force using quick attack and crazy combo, where I wished I was able to TIVO my X-box to see them again is a great cameo. He ties into the story where he feels a disturbance in the force, Vader gets an apprentice, and he comes out of hiding to help fight for peace. There are a multitude of characters, you still have your bigger stronger characters that do so much damage with one hit but they are really slow.
For the avid gamer this may not be your cup of tea. Something more on the lines of Ninja Gaiden may suit you better. For the beginner gamer or those who want to test out a new gaming genre I highly suggest it. The game is great for you learning how to use controls and reacting quick. The game does get harder as you advance but I didn’t find it good enough to hold the attention and meet the hype of the avid gamer. The graphics are great, even the music score in the background is especially good since they used the John Williams music when Yoda fights the Dark Apprentice. The one thing that I personally could not get over is the narration sounds like the narrator of Dragon Ball Z. I really do not like Dragon Ball Z at all. So that made it very annoying for me but for all you Dragon fans you might get a kick out if it. So I would suggest this game for beginners or SoulCalibur Fans, nothing is better than coming home from a stressful day and beating some one up.
Good: Awesome graphics, great soundtrack, perfect for beginners and those who want to have an alter-ego who kicks butt.
Bad: Short gameplay will not hold the attention of a hardcore gamer.