Soulcalibur IV Review

We all know that fighting game fanatics will love (or are loving) Soulcalibur IV. But what about the rest of the gamers? Those who don’t have the time to dedicate their playing experience to an individual title, memorizing long lists of moves and combos to have an edge over online combatants–is it fun for them?

Short answer: yes. Soulcalibur IV is, in my opinion, the best fighting game this generation for both casual and hardcore fighting gamers.

That’s probably no surprise to gaming veterans. It was Soulcalibur back on the Dreamcast that brought a new generation of gamers to the fighting arena, after all, with its innovative mixture of arcade and console features. Since 1999, Soulcalibur has easily been one of the most respected franchises in gaming, and Soulcalibur IV shows that the series still remains the king of the ring to this day.

For starters, the roster in the game is fantastic. No matter which type of fighter or personality you enjoy, chances are it’s in this game. If it’s not? Make it! The fighter creation and customization is back, and is probably the best it’s been yet in this series. If you’re not happy with one of the 30+ fighters on the roster (or want to tweak them to match your own style), you’ll find a plethora of equipment pieces to utilize in the customization mode. Each piece gives benefits, meaning you can mix and match to get exactly what you’re looking for.

At the onset of the game, roughly half the roster is unlocked for use, including the popular Darth Vader (PS3) and Yoda (360). The two seemed like an odd choice for Soulcalibur when they were revealed months ago, but I have to admit, they work. While Yoda is more entertaining (and cheaper) to play as, Vader seems more in-place in the Soulcalibur universe. Joining the two is the upcoming Apprentice from The Force Unleashed, and of the three he’s easily the best character gameplay-wise–but who would pick an up-and-coming apprentice over freakin’ Yoda and Vader!

Unfortunately, the arcade and story modes seem to take a hit this time around. Each character has their own story mode, but it can be beaten in ten minutes or so, even the first time you boot up the game. I’ve always enjoyed the story mode in modern fighting games for their cinematic feel and approach they take, but Soulcalibur IV fails on that front, offering little reason to play through other than to unlock some stuff, earn some gold to unlock some stuff, and say you beat it.

Thankfully one of the new additions bolsters the single-player experience: the Tower of Lost Souls. By climbing up (and then descending down) the tower, you face challenge after challenge, and along the way unlock equipment to utilize in the customization. It offers hours of gameplay solo, and if you want to get the most out of editing or creating a fighter, it’s a must to get through and unlock all the equipment.

Online play is also a nice addition, and a welcome one at that. Taking a cue from other recent fighters, you can now beat your friends up no matter where they live. (Or, in my case, get your ass kicked by someone you haven’t seen in person in four years regularly.) Unfortunately, even the tiniest of lag spikes or latency issues will drastically alter the outcome of the fight.

Even with occasional online hiccups, Soulcalibur IV is a very solid game, and excels in almost all areas. If it has one fault it’s that they tried to cater more to the hardcore fighting crowd and ignore the casual gamers with the de-emphasis on single player story mode, but really, who can blame them? And if casual gamers can get past the lack of story modes and get into the meat of the game, there are hours and hours of fun to be had unlocking new equipment, mastering fighters, and taking the fight to your friends online. No matter how you slice it, Soulcalibur IV is a great game–even for those who don’t consider themselves hardcore fans of the fighting genre.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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