By Philip Dunkley
Okay, so in a month where releases are few and far between, there was always a ray of hope shining through the drought, a rose amongst the thorns (or lack of them) if you will. That title was Soulcalibur IV, and it’s a title that many have been anxiously waiting for. So, does it meet up to Current Gen expectations? Let’s find out shall we.
Soulcalibur is a series with a very broad following, due to it’s pick up and play mechanics, as well as the strong loyal fan base. This iteration is no different, and newcomers will have no problems picking up the game. Seasoned professionals will also not be disappointed, as the chaotic gameplay and hordes of customizations are all back in the series. Trust me, you’ll be learning combos for the next month!
The story within the game is spread particularly thin, as each character has his or her own little sub plot to follow, and this can range from the rather intriguing to the down right absurd, but hey it’s Namco, so what do you expect.
The game offers a multitude of different modes to play in. Starting with the single player mode, this is easily the worst part of the game, as each character will play through 5 different levels, and will complete each main story in about 10 minutes. This little problem is actually quite annoying, as it seems that these guys are really just haphazardly throwing this mode in, to please a certain few, but when you don’t put effort in, you know what you get!
At least there is a Tower of Lost Souls mode, which you can play in two different ways. One is to ascend the tower, fighting all the bosses, and the second is to descend the tower fighting hordes of characters on the way, and to see how long it lasts.
Then we move to the multiplayer. I have played with friends on this in a local multiplayer format, and this is where the game comes into it’s own. We will be releasing an XBOX360 review of this game in the near future, and the online mode will be tested in great detail. Fighting games were always designed for multiplayer, so I suppose I can’t moan too much about the single player issue.
You also have a character creation mode, allowing you to kit out the characters with different weapons and abilities, and this actually adds quite a bit of depth to the game.
There are over 30 characters in the game, and I know you are all dying to hear about two specific characters, and yes, I got the long straw and got Darth Vader. He’s actually quite a playable character, and he is slotted into the story mode quite well. He has some decent attacks and combos, and I find myself using him relatively often. He looks fantastic as well.
That brings me to the visual side of the game. It looks amazing. The characters are meticulously and painstakingly created, with some of the most intricate and detailed costumes (or once again, lack of costumes) I have ever seen in a fighting game. The animation is particularly smooth, and the frame rate never suffers on this version. The levels look just as good as the characters, and if you are playing this in HD, which I assume many of you are, you eyes are going to thank you for the purchase.
The sound is good, and it has your usual Namco styled screaming and shouting, but I did find the voice acting relatively weak. Even Darth Vader sounded a bit off to me, or it could be me getting a bit older.
Overall, Soulcalibur IV is a great fighting game marred only by the lack of any decent single player mode, but if you are looking for a decent reason to blow a few bucks, this will qualify. If you’ve been a fan of the series, you’re going to enjoy it, if you have never played one before, what you waiting for, get stuck in.
Gameplay: 8.5/10 [Fast and Furious] Presentation: 10/10 [Great Graphics all round] Sound: 7.5/10 [Easy on the ears, voice acting shaky] Value: 8/10 [Will bring joy] Overall: 8.8/10 [Not a Masterpiece, but damn close]
Last Updated: August 5, 2008