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Soul Calibur IV Review (X360)

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Soul Calibur IV Review (X360)
Namco Bandai
SoulCalibur IV is almost the perfect fighting game. It has a huge cast of extremely varied characters. Tons of modes to use them in. Great graphics and sound. Online play. And surprisingly accessible gameplay that ensures that both hardcore fight fans as well as casual fans can pick up the controller, make cool stuff happen, and enjoy themselves. Find out all about it in our full SoulCalibur IV review.
Quick Hits

  • 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.

Gameplay

Namco Bandai
The true beauty and brilliance of SoulCalibur IV comes in the gameplay, of course. There are thirty characters, all with different styles and move sets, and learning how to fight with and against all of them is a fun and satisfying challenge. Each characters has hundreds of moves and combos at their disposal, and learning the right way to use them all is pure fighting game goodness.

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

Graphically, SoulCalibur IV is stunning. The characters are all extremely detailed and feature silky-smooth animation. The environments are also nicely done and the different lighting found on each map really gives the game a unique feel as you move from one stage to the next.

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.

Bottom Line

Namco Bandai
All in all, SoulCalibur IV is an easy game to recommend. If you like fighting games and have friends around to play with either locally or on Xbox Live, SCIV is a solid purchase. It is deep enough that veteran fight fans will be very satisfied with it, but accessible enough that anyone can play it and enjoy it. Any complaints I have with it are small, but worth mentioning. I wish the create-a-fighter had more stuff in it as well as the ability to make Jedi characters. And I hate to say it, but Yoda sucks. He is a pain to fight against and not all that fun to fight with, and outside of using him to earn a couple of achievements, I’m never going to use him again. The Apprentice is quite a bit better, but seems cheap with his force attacks. Better to have more characters than less, of course, so not a huge complaint. Everything else about the game is polished to near-perfection, however, and I highly recommend SoulCalibur IV for any Xbox 360 owner.
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