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About the product
- Unleash the Force: Iconic Star Wars characters, Sith Lord Darth Vader and Jedi Master Yoda challenge the Soulcalibur fighters for the future of the powerful swords. Experience the legendary Soulcalibur level of graphics now in 720p HD resolution for the fi
- Take the Fight Online: For the first time ever, fight opponents around the world online in multiple versus modes.
- The Ultimate Roster: Battle with classic Soulcalibur character, exciting newcomers or customize your own unique fighter.
- New Fighting System Elements: Exciting new fighting game elements including the Active Matching Battle System and the ability to execute devastating critical strikes.
- Multiple Gameplay Modes: Experience Soulcalibur with Story, Arcade, Tower of Reminiscence, Training Practice, Character Creation, and Museum View modes.
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The world's premier weapon based fighting game franchise returns to deliver a true next generation fighting experience. Set to finally reveal the origins of the Soulcalibur saga, Soulcalibur IV features both new and familiar faces from across the galaxy, seeking the rival swords for vengeance, honor and salvation. In a monumental alliance, legendary Star Wars icons, Darth Vader and Yoda invade the Soulcalibur IV continues the series' tradition of reinventing, enhancing and breaking new boundaries. Now the world's favorite fighting game redefines the entire genre for the next generation of both new, and fiercely loyal Soulcalibur fans.
The Classic Fighter Returns
Return to witness the epic struggle between the spirit sword, Soul Calibur, and the cursed sword, Soul Edge, in Soul Calibur IV. Warriors from far reaches of the galaxy battle to control the powerful swords and use them for their own goals. Should these fighters succeed, they will face the ultimate judgment. The ongoing story continues with new revelations, exciting new gameplay features and stunning visuals. And perhaps most exciting of all, a character from the Star Wars universe will also make an appearance.
Exclusive Special Characters
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While my greatest worry with reference to the game's reported development was the "critical finish" system, this gameplay mechanic is actually very peripheral and difficult to achieve, and so that was one thing I was relieved about upon playing this game... What's not made very explicit within any official review I read (most notably IGN's own review) is how much effect character customization has on general gameplay. Representing one of the bad turns (if not the very worst) of creative direction of III to IV, rather than just affecting the aesthetic, a character's equipment now grants them "skill points" or what's generally equivalent to attribute points within most RPGs... There are four categories which these points can count towards, and depending how many points you have within each one you are able to select specific skills which will grant different exotic effects to whatever character the points correspond with.... Conceptually this might seem cool - especially to the markets I referenced earlier - but anyone expecting a pure/competitive worthy/balanced fighter will immediately be turned off. Referencing things objectively, there are a few modes that don't have equipment have any weight over gameplay, though exclusively referencing singleplayer, the only mode that such an idea can be said about is by far the most barebones.
With reference to the game's singleplayer, there's very little special about this game... As just mentioned, there is a very basic "arcade mode" present; although it's extremely basic this will probably be the favored mode of anyone who considers themself specifically a fighting fan rather than just a general gaming fan. While I don't dislike the arcade mode, in many ways it seems like players are discouraged from playing that mode rather than all others, with very few achievements derived from playing it, and generally speaking the least money gained by playing it once through...
To reference the other modes, of course there's a story mode, but unlike its predecessor, it's incredibly barebones... Rather than be granted plot lines in the form of visual exposition, the player is granted a wall of text which is pretty much the entirety of a "story's" involvement with story mode... As you face characters within said mode, some will make oblique references to key character traits and/or plot elements, but that's all that can be said aside from the characters' endings, most of which are also very oblique and really lacking in emotionality and/or anything generally compelling. All of said statements are intensified contrasted with the greatness that was Soul Calibur III's "Tales of Souls" mode, offering some RPG-like single-player progressive options, text which would further the story in a very logical and successive manner, and could be read completely optionally between each stage, (rather than the single wall encountered within SC IV's mode) and of course the event battles each with specialized dialogue corresponding with each character uniquely... Said mode was truly iconoclastic by the standards of the fighting genre's story involvement, and it's a travesty that Namco couldn't have developed a "story" mode more closely following within this one's footsteps...
Of all the singleplayer modes, the one that was obviously focused on the most while the game was being developed was the "Tower of Lost Souls" mode... Here the equipment effects prove the most prominent, and the player is mandated to customize their character if they actually want to stand a chance of doing well within this mode... Frankly I think I've stated enough of my opinions on the equipment, which overall correlate with my opinions towards this mode, though some people may derive some enjoyment from it if they actually enjoy customization and/or want a genuine challenge (albeit a challenge that isn't so because of well coded AI or any other reason more befitting of a fighting game...).
By most gamers' standards, a fighting game's singleplayer modes are mitigated by its multiplayer, though for the most part, the criticisms still stand... There's a versus standard mode, which is the game at its core... While this is still prefereable to the "special" mode, the animation looks choppy contrasted with III, the game seems even more imbalanced than before, and overall it's generally a let down. Of course the special mode is the game with weapon effects incorporated, and once again is most heavily catered towards the RPG crowd... As if the general low quality of said multiplayer modes weren't bad enough, the game's netcode seems to be the worst I've experienced aside from pretty much any SNK game... Even on the highest quality connections, (those with ratings of "5" or "blue) I experienced a very large amount of input delay... When I hosted matches, this effect seemed even more prominent (how this is the case I have no idea, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't imagining that). Many hardcore fighting fans will state the fact that a player shouldn't judge a game's quality by the standards of its online modes, but considering how many achievements are tied with online play, my experiences were so bad even while hosting or on very optimal connections, and that this game is developed by major developer Namco, I think said point is definitely worthy of mentioning.
There's a bit more to games than gameplay, that much is true, but generally speaking Soul Calibur IV doesn't deliver there either... A lot of the stages that recurred from III feature themes similar in nature to said game, but overall of lesser quality. Overall the voice acting is lower quality as well, with most returning actors voicing their characters flatter than before... I reluctantly state this, as said person is also my generally favorite voice actress, but Jennifer Hale's new style of manic voice for Tira is beyond awful... I'm assuming this was a director's decision, so I don't blame her specifically, but I found the character very compelling within III and I can't say that with reference to her incarnation within IV (within that vein the new style of character design is also way too drastically different, but said point is kind of pedantic I'll admit). The only characters' voices I think are improved from III to IV are Nightmare's and Setsuka's, (due to the heavy distortion of the voice, I don't know if Nightmare's voice actor is the same within both games) and the only character who has a voice on par with their incarnation within III is Siegried (the pitch is notably different, but for whatever reason I think both voices fit the character).
To reference a few arbitrary things, the Star Wars characters are blatant gimmicks, but I think most people who've played pretty much any SC game before this one can realize that for themselves. To give the game its deserved credit, I can't complain at all about the game graphically... The facial models look incredibly lifelike, (frankly I do find myself attracted to a few of the girls in the game, despite the fact I know they are not real) the backgrounds are incredibly lush and vibrant, and it's quite possibly the very best looking game I've played on the 360 overall... Graphics are least important when it comes to game design though, and so even this credit I'll give it will not be enough for me to grant this game a greater than mediocre score... With the quality of this iteration considered, I really hope Namco can salvage the franchise and deliver a truly worthy successor to III, but it seems like Namco is deliberately making Soul Calibur casually appealing, and if that's their choice as to where to take the franchise, I doubt my hopes will ever become realized....
To start off, the graphics in this game are simply amazing. There is a huge amount of detail on every part of a character. Not only do the characters look great, but the environments are equally as impressive. The stages are made of pristine quality. This game really pushes the 360 to its limits graphically, and the game runs smooth as silk with no frame-rate issues.
Soulcalibur IV is a 3D weapons-based fighting game. The gameplay consists of horizontal attacks, vertical attacks, and kicks. Using certain combinations of these buttons results in various combos and special "unblockable" attacks. The combos are both flashy and effective, making fights enjoyable to watch as well as playing them. Figuring out these combos aren't as difficult as other fighters, making it very accessible to many people.
While Soul Calibur IV can be seen as a very offensive fighter with guard breaks and soul crushes (break your guard as well as leaving you vulnerable for a critical finish), there are guard impacts which parry your opponent's attack, leaving him/her open for attack. You can also break your opponent's armor during the match, which looks amazing and really immerses you in the battles.
There are 26 characters all with their own unique weapons and styles. While some characters are much better to play as than others, the game is balanced enough to make every character have a chance.
The game has many modes for you to choose from. Story mode guides your character to 5 predetermined battles to explain why they are here searching for either soul calibur or soul edge. It ends with a unique cut-scene depicting the results of your journey. This mode alone is worth it just to see the endings of everyone. Arcade mode consists of 8 battles that feature a cheap Apprentice (star wars character) in stage 7. This mode is to get a high score, but it's not very enjoyable for long.
One of the offline modes you'll spend an ample amount of time on is the Towers of Lost Souls mode. This takes your fighters through 60 Floors of the tower for the ascend portion. The descend portion goes on forever and increases in difficulty the farther you descend. The mode is very challenging and frustrating at times, but the rewards are worth it. You can earn gold and items that you can use on your characters.
The character creation is one of my favorite features in this game. Here, you can build a character mimicking one of the character's style in the game. There are a plethora of different items to choose from, and all of them determine the stats of your character (health, defense, attack, etc.). You can mix and match these parts to get the type of character that you want. You can also put special abilities on them such as Shave Damage (damage guarding enemies) or HP Drain (regains your life for every successful attack).
Now the only real issue I have with this game are the addition of Star Wars characters. While they do play alright, they really tend to mess up with the character balancing of the game. While many patches have come since the release to help balance out the roster, they still feel severely out of place. The game would've been much better and taken much more seriously without the inclusion of them.
I didn't play online with this game as much as I did with the sequel, and that is because it is very laggy. I can bring people over and have fun playing against my friends, so it didn't bother me too much. However some people might want to fight good competition, and the only way to do that is online.
In conclusion, this is one of the most enjoyable fighting games that I have ever played. While it's not the most balanced fighter, the amount of sheer fun that is to be had by yourself and with others is a joy. The netcode needs to be improved, but the offline package is good enough. I recommend it not only to fighting game fans, but also to casual players as well.
Written by my 13 year old son