While we initially gave a review for Soul Calibur IV a short while back, we were unable to review one of the games new and anticipated features, online multiplayer.
As usual, we at Lazygamer do things slightly different, so with that in mind, we bring you the review of Soul Calibur IV’s online component. We are also going to be looking at the game not only from an online perspective, but a South African online perspective. So, Is it a step forward in the world of fighting games, or is it just a lag fest that South Africans can happily ignore.
Find out after the jump.
While both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game have full online multiplayer, we had the chance to play it over Xbox Live, although we are not aware of any differences between the two.
I would like to take the opportunity to give you a friendly warning though. If you haven’t already brushed up on a few characters and their moves, I suggest you do so before jumping online. While button bashing and random acts of cheapness may help out a little, your friends will be beating you to a pulp consistently if you aren’t clued up with at least a few characters. (thanks Poddle – I hate you).
For all of you that are concerned with lag in the online play, you can relax. The game doesn’t run quite as perfect as the offline modes, so a little bit of time is needed to adjust your timing for blocks, counters and special moves. Once you have gotten the hang of it, you won’t even notice it anymore. Although we only tested the 4 player with 4mb lines, we have heard no complaints from anyone running slower speeds in South Africa.
As far as international online play is concerned it’s not entirely as simple as that. So, I went joined a quick match waiting for a good laugh when the Americans realise that the game is running at frames per minute because of my lag and I was actually blown away when the round started and the game was running smoothly. In the first international game I joined it ran as smooth as any local game I have played, the only issue I had was that the game would stutter every now and then for a second or so and then continue as usual. In the second game I joined, the speed was good but the controls suffered from a bit of a delayed reaction.
I think that in the end it is better to play with local guys, but if you are in the mood to hop into a game and all your friends are offline, with a small amount of patience you can actually find a really smooth game to join in not very long.
Jumping straight into a game with friends is incredibly easy, the lobby puts you altogether, matches up the next two players and only requires that they press one button to get things going. From there you will be able to select your character but more importantly, any of the custom characters that you have created in the character builder.
The game supports 4 players online, so two players will always be spectating with the one of them taking on the winner in the next match. The spectating is actually quite fun as you can watch your friends beat each other to a pulp as you support or harass the one that you want to win. At the end of the match, the lobby lines up the next contender and off you go.One thing that becomes surprisingly notable early on is that no AI characters can prepare you for online play against real people, they are way tougher and obviously more unpredictable as you realise that each person has their own personal style. The human element adds a lot to the game though, being able to complain at someone when they beat you, mock them when you win (doesn’t happen to me often so I wouldn’t know…) and have a great laugh when someone tries to pull an awe inspiring special move of greatness, only to launch themselves off the side of the map.
It really is a good laugh and becomes just as great as those memories of having a bunch of friends over at your place with a few drinks and some controller swapping. Since we online gamers don’t actually have any real friends anymore, this works out quite perfectly.
I can tell you straight out that I got tired of fighting games somewhere around the time that Tekken Tag was starting to show its age. Soul Calibur has been the first fighting game in years to spark up my interest again and with the great online multiplayer modes added into the mix I can suggest that even if you think you may be remotely interested in this game, you should check it out. I don’t think that you will be disappointed.
Better Than: Having to feed and water your actual friends
Worse Than: Going to a friends house to eat and drink everything in his kitchen
Score: 9/10 – A really great way to spend your time online with some buddies
Last Updated: September 3, 2008