September 3, 2008

Soul Calibur IV Review

Posted in General at 11:46 pm by playstation3

The following review is from writer Adam Hanson:

Soul Calibur 4 is the fifth game in the acclaimed fighting game series that started back on the original Playstation with Soul Blade. The series is best known for it’s weapon based combat. The series first appearance on the PS3 is a solid fighting game with plenty of features that will attract both fans of the series and new players alike.

Soul Calibur 4 brings back almost all of the playable characters from past games. The game also introduces a new character, Hilde, who wields a shortsword and a spear. In addition to the Soul Calibur series characters the game lets players play as Darth Vader (a Playstation 3 exclusvie character) and his secret apprentice from the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Finally the game features a group of bonus characters designed by Japanese anime artists. There is also an empty character slot that some (including me) will only be filled once a gamesave for Force Unleashed is present on the console. To further add to it’s impressive roster of characters Soul Calibur 4 allows the player to customize a fighters appearance and give them the fighting style of any character in the game.

The single player game in Soul Calibur 4 includes a story mode, an arcade mode, and a new mode called tower of lost souls. Arcade mode is the typical fighting game in that it involves fighting a series of opponents with each fight being best of three. Story mode has fewer battles but each battle may have multiple opponents or allow the player to have an ally character. Despite the designation as “Story” Mode the game is light on story and the story that is there is presented mostly as text. The Tower of Lost Souls mode is a series of battles that get progressively harder as the player ascends the tower. In this mode the player must fight multiple battles against multiple opponents in a row (usually 2 or 3 battles with 2 or 3 opponents each) and the player’s health carries over from one set of battles to the next. This mode allows the player to change his character (or characters since more often than not the player is given two or three characters at a time) after each section. Playing the single player game will allow the player to unlock new characters and find new costume parts for customized characters.

Unless the player is a hardcore completionist the single player experience of Soul Calibur 4 will not last long. At it’s heart Soul Calibur 4 is a multiplayer game and that is where it truly shines. Soul Calibur 4 is at it’s most fun when a group of friends get together for a multiplayer game. The versus mode is divided into a standard and a special mode. Standard mode does not allow for use of optional skills while special mode does. Optional skills are skills that the player equips to a character and they offer abilities like invisibility and protection from being knocked out of the ring. While the game only features one on one battles; each battle is usually short enough to allow new players to switch in without anyone getting too bored. In this generation where fighting game have been hard to come by Soul Calibur 4 will provide a change of pace from the shooters that have been dominating many game nights.

When it comes to the actual fighting Soul Calibur 4 does not disappoint. Each character (with the exception of the bonus anime characters) has a unique fighting style and moveset. The game makes it easy for new players to quickly learn a few moves and execute them in combat but it also has a number of moves that will take time and practice to master. The characters themselves are fairly well balanced though some tend to be “cheaper” than others. Using optional skills can unbalance the game but A new damage system has been put in place where repeated guarding will leave a character open to a “critical finisher” move that will kill them in one blow. The Star Wars characters have the ability to use unique force moves that deplete a force meter. Armor can be destroyed during the battle adding a degree of realism to the game. Ring outs are also more difficult now as many arenas only have one side that is not blocked off by a wall.

The graphics are top notch. Characters and environments are detailed to the point where it’s can be fun just watching as friends fight. The sound effects work with the game but are generally not all that noticeable. The character voices are good but, like in any fighting game, it can get annoying hearing the same one liners before and after battles. The few cutscenes that are in story mode are fully voiced but as I stated before most of the story is presented in a text only form at the beginning and end of the story mode.

In conclusion Soul Calibur 4 is the game that fighting game fans of the genre have been waiting for. It manages to blend simplicity and complexity into a game that players of all skill levels will enjoy. The game looks great and it plays just as good. While the major unlockables such as characters and arenas can be unlocked quickly there is plenty to keep the hardcore completionists playing for a long time. Even after the single player game is done the versus mode will surely be a feature at many game nights. With all of this in mind Soul Calibur 4 recieves. . . .

a 4 out of 5