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Thursday | September 20, 2018
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Soulcalibur IV (X360 & PS3)

Soulcalibur IV (X360 & PS3)

Soulcalibur has been one of the most successful combat based franchises and finally it makes a debut on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms. IV offers the same style of fantastic weapons based 3d fighting with a wonderful and wacky list of characters which is sure to appeal to both casual gamers as well as dedicated fans of the series. The game isn’t flawless as we will find out, but it should be shortlisted by any self respecting gamer.

The game has over 30 characters to play with and there are some inventive and graphically beautiful levels. Rest assured there are still many moves and commands to learn and those who dedicate the time while find the results very rewarding. Additionally the game has many unlockables and game modes which keep it fresh and there is a new online mode which lets you battle across the globe.

Soulcalibur IV has the usual Story and Arcade modes that every gamer will be instantly familiar with, however there are some differences, for example, every character in the game has their own story to play through, however in the grand scheme of things, these individual stories can be completed in around 10-15 minutes. There also aren’t many individual cinematics and most of them are repeated at the end. It works a lot better than it sounds however and I enjoyed playing this mode for a few hours.

The Tower Of Lost Souls is the other single player mode that gives you a chance to ascend or descend the tower and facing various challenges as you progress. Ascending the tower for example requires you to select a stage and a set of floors to fight across which usually means you are fighting against several overpowered foes. If you complete the requirements you get equipment unlocks which sets you up for the Character Creation mode and then you can advance further up the tower.
Going down the tower is a rather different affair altogether and you select two characters at the start and they fight throughout the scenario in a tag team style format. Each floor pits you against new enemies that you must defeat and you acquire goodies after clearing a specific amount of floors, such as passing the 15th or 20th floor marker. This sounds challenging, and in practise it is, however the player you aren’t fighting with from your duo slowly recovers health in the background, so you can switch between each of them to keep going.

This mode could really have been much improved as it is a perfect scenario for an indepth experience with fleshed out storylines and cinematics. The end result however is rather shallow, with the only reason for playing being the usefulness of unlocking content. As this is important to some aspects of the game, most players will spend time in this mode.

This leads me nicely into the aforementioned character creation mode. You can customise characters in here by altering their equipment, weapons, hair style and skill set, you can also create new characters … although they have to act as copies of pre created fighters when it comes to the combat part of the game. You also can not alter the build of pre created fighters when you are modifying them. The option to set up the skills works well as the weapons you choose dictates how many points you can spend in various categories. Acquiring skills relies on how much you use a specific character and you are awarded them as you "style level" increases. This cool ideal of getting more for playing more carries over to the equipment as well, so you are basically being rewarded for playing the game. I like this idea and am surprised that more game developers don’t avail of this simple yet effective methodology.

There is also the obligatory versus mode which means you can jump into a quick match with either a computer AI opponent or a buddy. There isn’t much to say about this as it works perfectly well and means you can get a quick fix without having to compete in something more indepth.

Online support is a cool addition which many people will be talking about and both PSN and Xbox Live work equally as well in either ranked or unranked matches. Surprisingly you can even take your customised characters online which is a fantastic addition I wasn’t expecting when I first fired it up. Lag is kept to a minimum and both networks should be commended for their proficiency. That said, as I have review copies they aren’t that packed out right now so there is a possibility that when the game hits retail that things might slow down, only time will tell in regards to this.

The characters are very well designed and for those of you who don’t already know, Darth Vader and Yoda make an appearance. Yes, seriously. The Playstation 3 gets Darth Vader (obviously as the console looks like his toaster!), and the Xbox 360 gets the charming and wacky Yoda. Both versions get "The Apprentice", the main character from the upcoming Star Wars Movie "The Force Unleashed". Salivating yet?

Well clean the drool from your chin because all is not well in the land of Star Wars meets Japanese fighting game. Let’s get Darth Vader out of the way first. He works great in the game and Playstation 3 owners will be very happy with this addition, he is balanced and works well in the context of the game (even if it is a little bizarre). The apprentice however is rather overpowered as he can levitate and fire lighting which is tough to deal with unless you are very skilled at the game (which I am not). Yoda however is slightly broken, I will explain. He is too small to grab and even if you select Yoda to fight himself, he still can’t be grabbed. Obviously this is due to this limited height, however it just ruins the gameplay for me as a lot of the more interesting attacks just go over his head (literally). This means the Xbox 360 owners get the poorer deal of the two, especially when the PS3 Darth Vader works so well.

This doesn’t ruin the game for 360 owners, but I can’t help but think that more play testing would have somewhat rectified this balancing oversight slightly. It really is best just using Yoda for a laugh but omitting him totally from any serious gaming sessions.

The combat in the game is wonderful and I can make very few complaints, the controls are responsive and there is much room for people to spend time mastering the commands to become a true master. There are new moves such as Critical Finishers and Armor Destruction. The Armor Destruction means that if your opponent blocks too much that there is a chance part of his outfit will "break" which makes them vulnerable to the Critical Finisher moves. If you combine this with the fact you can wear down the Soul Gauge (a coloured sphere which turns red as too many blocks are used) you can then initiate a finisher which causes massive amounts of damage and looks absolutely stunning! The combination of bullet time and stylish design of the critical moves makes them worth mastering and using.

The new gameplay mechanic of combining blocking and attacking is a welcome addition and it means that if players are chickening out and just blocking that they will end up paying the price for it. It certainly has in my experience meant that games are balanced and more fun, than just having to deal with a player who only attacks on the counter. For those of you worried that the critical finisher moves will ruin the game, fear not, because it is not very often that all the requirements needed to use them are in place.

Fans of the older games will be pleased to hear that old favourites such as Volvo, Ivy and Kilik are still here and they work just as well as they did before. Masters of prior games will feel right at home lifting up the controller and this can only be seen as a good thing, after all the developers certainly didn’t want to alienate long standing fans.

Unfortunately, button mashing can quite often lead to a victory and even after 2 weeks of mastering a single character I would get occasionally pounded by my friend who had no idea how to play the game. Frustrating to say the least, however it may be more a case of the fact that I suck at the game, rather than a game control issue. It certainly will be appealing for beginners, but perhaps this time around there is slightly too much focus on attracting new gamers to the series. I feel that they needed to alter some of the button commands, after all most of the more powerful moves can be initiated by merely pushing down two face buttons, together. Hardly complex.

All in all however, Soulcalibur IV is great fun and will appeal to a wide section of gamers for the lovely graphics (which look almost identical on PS3 and 360) and exciting character development. It not only looks beautiful but it sounds just as great with some wonderful weapon sounds. Once again however I have to give the edge to the Playstation 3 version, the install, while slightly annoying at the start, makes the game load significantly faster than its counterpart. Also Darth Vader is much more useful than the ill balanced 360 Yoda.

Both are recommended, however if you are lucky enough to have both consoles, go for the Playstation 3 version, it is superior.


X360 90
PS3 92

A lot of characters, great combat which is very addictive. Playstation 3 gets a bonus for Darth Vader.


Absolutely beautiful to behold.


Great Ambient noises and sound effects. Voices are good.

A lot of unlockables and game modes which make it last a long time. The button mashing loses it a few points however.
(not an average)
X360 89
PS3 90

A great game to add to your collection.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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