- Title: SoulCalibur IV
- Platform: Xbox 360
- Publisher: Namco Bandai
- Developer: Project Soul
- ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
- Genre: Fighting
- Pros: Gorgeous graphics; tons of features and modes and unlockables; great, accessible gameplay; online play
- Cons: Yoda sucks; create-a-fighter needs more options
SoulCalibur IV takes most of the series veterans along with a handful of new characters including Yoda and The Apprentice and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and sets them loose in one of the deepest and most satisfying fighting games yet. There is also a custom character creator where you can edit existing characters as well as make your own unique creations. As you play through all of the modes, you unlock new parts for created fighters, but it doesn’t quite give you enough freedom to truly make anything you want. You have to make characters that fit into the SoulCalibur world, which kind of limits what you can do. The female characters in particular seem very limited as they don’t really have all that many clothing options (or at least clothing options that look halfway decent) and, for whatever reason, a lot of the face options are downright ugly. There is still a lot of fun to be had with custom characters, but I can’t help but want more.
Other modes include Story, Arcade, Tower of Souls, and Training. The Tower of Souls is interesting because you can work your way up against increasingly tough opponents, or work your way down against boss-type characters. Online play is also present, of course, and works fairly well. VF5 might be a bit smoother, though.
SCIV adds a few twists to the normal fighting game mix by letting you play the game either in normal mode or a mode that allows you to use equipment that changes the stats of the fighters. Each fighter also has special powers you can activate that grant them more strength, higher stats, and more. These add a great twist to the game and ensure that no two fights will ever be the same. New to the SoulCalibur series, IV also introduces finishing moves where fighters are punished for blocking too much and “turtling”. As you block attacks, your “Soul Gauge” changes colors, and when it turns red and starts flashing, if you block another attack you enter a special state where your opponent can kill you with one final attack. It is a great system that keeps the fights moving forward rather than turning into simple turtle-fests.
The best thing about SCIV is that while it is deep like the ocean, it is also very accessible. I’d say Virtua Fighter 5 is probably still the best fighter for hardcore players, but Soul Calibur IV is a lot easier to get into for everyone else, which is definitely a good thing.
Graphics and Sound
The sound is also quite good. The orchestral soundtrack fits the epic feel of the game perfectly, and the sound effects of clashing swords (and lightsabers) are all spot on. The voice acting isn’t stellar, but it seems more like it is intentionally cheesy and over the top than anything, so you can’t really complain too much.