Soul Calibur IV Review
- Posted August 1st, 2008 at 06:13 EDT by Eric Blattberg
- 35 Comments
- PSU Review Score
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Soul Calibur IV isn’t a revolution, but it’s one hell of an evolution. Although it does little to redefine the fighting genre, it manages to further advance the franchise with improvements across the board on an already fantastic foundation.
- The most balanced Soul Calibur yet
- A plethora of new characters, including the likes of Darth Vader and Hilde
- Heart-stopping graphics with a flawless framerate
- Slightly lackluster online experience
- Lack of original single-player modes
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a tale of souls and swords was eternally retold.
Namco Bandai has just released the latest installment in its critically acclaimed fighting franchise, Soul Calibur IV. Apart from getting groovy with the force, the basic formula of the series remains the same. Although it does little to redefine the fighting genre, Soul Calibur IV manages to further advance the franchise with improvements across the board on an already fantastic foundation.
Let’s begin with what’s most pertinent to a good fighting game – balance. After a rather skewed balance in Soul Calibur III, Soul Calibur studio Project Soul sought to equalize the cast of characters in IV, and they’ve done a top-notch job. From veterans like Ivy and Mitsurugi to newcomers like Hilde and Algol, none of the characters feel cheap or severely underpowered.
In order to help regulate “turtles,” people who block excessively, two new gameplay mechanics have been implemented. The first is destructible armor. With this aspect, a character’s high, middle, and low armor may be broken by powerful offensive attacks or extreme amounts of blocking by a defendant. Once a piece of armor has broken off, a character is more vulnerable in that specific area.
Secondly, one hit kills known as critical finishers have been implemented into the game. Performing a critical finisher in battle is actually fairly rare, as it’s usually easier to kill your opponent before you make them susceptible to a finisher. That process involves lowering their Soul Gauge, a jewel next to the health bar, to a blinking red state by attacking them, then guard impacting (parrying) one of their attacks or performing an attack that breaks their guard. If all of the above occur, you’re given about a half-second opportunity to hit all the face buttons at once. If you succeed, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning finishing animation during which you can mock your opponent to no end. Darth Vader’s lightsaber chuck is a strong candidate for the best of the bunch.
Speaking of Darth Vader, the figurehead of the Dark Side is indeed present in the PS3 version of Soul Calibur IV, as is his secret apprentice. Their presence in the Soul Calibur universe seems out of place – and it literally is. Vader’s story episode explains that he crossed over into an alternate universe from his own after he sensed a great power -- of which the Soul Calibur and Soul Edge swords were the source -- emanating from a portal.
Storyline aside, Vader is slightly slow and unwieldy when compared to many in the Soul Calibur cast, though his force moves compensate somewhat. Easy to execute, vast in number and highly effective, Vader’s force powers are regulated by a regenerating force gauge under his lifebar (the same applies to the apprentice). One force maneuver, a grab to force choke combination, is particularly satisfying.
Darth Vader’s apprentice is a more than worthy addition to the Soul Calibur crew. Though irritating to unlock (you must defeat him in Arcade mode with Vader), he’s an absolute blast to play. Featuring more ‘electrifying’ force moves than Vader, the nimble apprentice skillfully twists and turns as he slashes his opponent to bits.
As for the other new additions to the Soul Calibur lineup, Hilde and Algol prove quite versatile and destructive respectively. With the massive contrast between Hilde’s short sword and long spear, those who master her play style will have the best of both worlds at their fingertips. Algol, the game’s ‘boss’ character, has fragmented power of both the Soul Calibur and Soul Edge within him, thus he can perform some unique and powerful attacks. He’s strong, but by no standard unfairly so.
Technically, there are five more bonus characters that must be mentioned. Though they don’t all possess unique fighting styles, each character was designed by a different renowned anime artist. Several, like the mechanical Ashlotte, are downright strange, though a few of the others are very cool, especially the deadly Shura. Regardless of taste though, they add even more variety to the professionally designed characters of SCIV.
When I say ‘professionally designed,’ I’m inferring that the custom character creator previously seen in Soul Calibur III is ... (continued on next page)
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- 1:15am EDT - August 1st, 2008
that is good news...now I want it
- 1:27am EDT - August 1st, 2008
I thought it would have gotten this kind of score.
Dave-The-Rave | Dave-The-Rave
- 1:27am EDT - August 1st, 2008
Oh is this game out now?...meh, just another fighter
- 1:40am EDT - August 1st, 2008
I bought it last night and i love it, the story modes not like SC2 which is kinda a let down, because the story mode in SC4 is short.
- 3:23am EDT - August 1st, 2008
Yeah i couldnt agree more with Eric about the Chronicles of the sword, it just seemed to make the game even deeper and with all the create a character additions it coud of been incredible.
- 3:37am EDT - August 1st, 2008
It a fair review for this game.
- 3:49am EDT - August 1st, 2008
I have 3 major dissapointments with this game. First The Tower of Lost Souls mode is far, far too difficult and holds no real reward if your not into the 'create a character' option. Second is the complete lack of modes, single player or mulitplayer. Where is the traditional Time Trial, Survival Mode, Team Battle Mode, Tag Modes?? An absolute joke. Third (and this is probably just for me) where has the records page gone?!? I used to like keeping a tab on the character usage data etc. They took it out of SCIII and it has yet to return in SCIV. Bring it back!!! Apart from that, everything else is great.
- 4:27am EDT - August 1st, 2008
The apprentice is viscious. This game is a lot more fun than I expected it to be.
IWAO | DynamicSun
- 4:29am EDT - August 1st, 2008
Hmm yeah it seems like this game won't be as good as Tekken 6... I told you guys the Tekken games does always get higher scores. Anyway yeah I can't wait for the Tekken 6 review!
- 4:42am EDT - August 1st, 2008
in my opinion Soul calibur is like tekken with weapons
still i give tekken the lil edge , but i luv em both
- 5:52am EDT - August 1st, 2008
wake me when tekken 6 gets here
- 8:17am EDT - August 1st, 2008
i had no idea when this was released should have paid attention i could be playing it now
- 8:48am EDT - August 1st, 2008
yea its a good fighter game
psn id J08hawks
psycho_mantis | uncut_raw187
- 9:09am EDT - August 1st, 2008
is it worth buying just for the online?
Alti | alti
- 9:13am EDT - August 1st, 2008
awesome. I plan on buying it :) Whenever I can get a ride to walmart..
- 9:51am EDT - August 1st, 2008
I actually think the online is pretty good... for a fighting game. What did you expect? I could play on their for hours. Only problem is the friends system.
- 10:26am EDT - August 1st, 2008
pretty justified for this game
- 12:37pm EDT - August 1st, 2008
I agree with this score, the tower of souls will give a single player many of challenge. Not to mention the online has been outstanding for myself, it is based on your internet speeds and connection, and who you are connected too. I really needed this fighting game to add to my library
- 6:32pm EDT - August 1st, 2008
I rented it and liked it and will proly buy it. ANGLO FEAR BABY. i own with her. Although ill proly make a custom character and give it anglo Fear's fighting style.
- 8:37pm EDT - August 1st, 2008
sounds good ima buy it
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