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Soul Calibur IV Member Review for the PS3

Master_Craig By:
GENRE Fighting 
PUBLISHER Namco Bandai 
DEVELOPER Project Soul 
T Contains Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Just to let you know, while Soul Calibur IV does have online play, I never actually played it, so this user review won't have anything on online play.

"Transcending history and the world, a tale of souls and swords, eternally retold..."

For the fourth time.

Soul Calibur IV is as the title says, the fourth installment of the Soul series. Jumping on the X-Box 360 and PS3 consoles, weapons clash once again intensely as the warriors return to face each other, each bearing their own story and purpose. Is this deadly blade one of beautiful speed and precision, or is the blade dull and rusted to be used in a duel?

To begin with, Soul Calibur IV is a fighting game. If you've played Soul Calibur III back on the PS2, then the gameplay hasn't changed too much, but there are differences. Many characters make a return to the fourth installment such as Mitsurugi, Ivy, Yoshitmitsu, Kilik while the game only offers little new characters, being the new "boss" of the game Algol and the fully armour clad knight, Hilde (although a few more characters can be unlocked).

Surprisingly though and for some very strange reason, Darth Vader of the Star Wars franchise makes a sudden appearance (the X-Box 360 version receives Yoda), along with his secret apprentice Starkiller from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Why Namco chose to include Star Wars characters is very questionable, and how they fit into the game's story just doesn't make any sense. Regardless though, it is an interesting feature.

The game honestly doesn't have much of a storyline but in all fairness, it is a fighting game. Most fighting games just tend to have a minimal storyline which pretty much gives all the characters an excuse to unite and kick the crap out of each other. It can be said though that in the world of Soul Calibur each character of the game is either after "the sword of salvation" or simply has their own agenda, such as revenge on another character or something along those lines. Again, how the Star Wars characters fit into this, is just completely beyond question.

What players will notice is that the games graphics are absolutely fantastic. The animation is realistic, the graphics and environment design are excellent, truly using the power of the PS3, and the soundtrack is the same as ever, which is a good thing.

The fighting system works as before but with a few new touches. The 8-Way run system returns once more, allowing the characters to freely strafe and move in diagonal directions across the 3D battleground. Players can attack with their weapons with vertical or horizontal attacks, or actual physical kicks, to grabs and throws while being capable of blocking and parrying enemy attacks.

New feature comes in the form of an armour layer system. There are three pieces of "armour" a character wears. As the player blocks too much there is a chance that a piece of their armour will break off, resulting in becoming stunned. Should the opponent press all face buttons of the controller down at the same time as the enemy is in this brief stunned moment, they can have a chance to perform a Critical Finish.

A Critical Finish is an attack every player has where the player engages their opponent in a cinematic attack that once activated cannot be avoided, and will defeat the opponent instantly. It's a different touch to the game but some of the Critical Finishes seem a bit poor compared to others in regards to what actually goes on. At the very least though, the armour system combined with Critical Finishes makes matches a little more faster pace, more on the offensive side.

Soul Calibur IV unfortunately lacks modes. There's the Story mode which is a mode consisting of five levels to tell the character's story, there's the Tower of Souls mode which is used to unlock new things, then there is the VS battle, team VS and training modes. That's it. There isn't too much here in the mode department, unless of course you include online play.

Character creation returns and this time is a bit more broader than the previous game. Players can select from a wide variety of costumes and accessories (a lot must be unlocked), and custom characters can even be given their own unique physical builds (height however is not editable). Players also give their custom characters one of the pre-existing character's figthing style, so your custom character can fight just like Mitsurugi or Nightmare, for example. It's simple and effective but at the same time it doesn't feel like you're making your own character, it just feels like you're giving a pre-existing character an elaborate makeover.

The biggest issue of Soul Calibur IV is that a lot of the characters are unbalanced. Starkiller (the Apprentice) for example is ridiculously broken as he is in a way, too good of a character. Some characters are extremely easy to use due to good old fashioned button mashing, while some characters can be technical and difficult to use.

There is downloadable content via the Playstation Network for Soul Calibur IV but it all comes to a price. Players can download Yoda (who is also a "broken" character due to his constant bouncing around, plus the fact he can't actually be thrown due to his size) along with a lot of costume parts and extra music. Judging from the costume part descriptions, a lot of the costumes seem to be for low, blatant fan service from the already over sexually designed female characters.

Soul Calibur IV is a good fighting game but it's by no means a great fighting game. This is the next gen consoles and the only thing "next gen" about Soul Calibur IV is the fantastic graphics (perhaps online play as well, to be fair). The character creation has been increased decently but falls on some parts, there could more game modes, and the characters themselves need a bit of a look at due to how unbalanced some are.

The game is worth a look if you're a fan of the Soul series and fighting games. If not, you could still check it out but maybe as a rental.

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