Soul Calibur IV Review (Xbox 360, PS3)
Do you wake up in the middle of the night, relieve your bladder, and find that your soul still burns? The only known cure is a 3am bout with Soul Calibur IV's extensive custom character creation engine, its oddball guest fighter roster, and rock-solid online gameplay. Others will not understand.
Voldo: Teen Beat Cover Model
Chances are, if you're even a passing fan of 3D fighters, you've probably heard of Soul Calibur and its unique gameplay mechanics. While other fighters such as Tekken and Virtua Fighter focus on bare-fisted contestants pummeling each other into submission, Soul Calibur has created a secondary focus of weapon selection. Each character has a weapon that defines him or her, and these weapons have significantly different attack speeds, reaches, and abilities. This is not to say that the characters are not iconic in and of themselves, as the list of combatants is populated with colorful and compelling personas.
As you progress through the game and rack up more wins, your armor, weapon, and skill selections will increase, and you will be faced with many choices which can customize your characters of choice to your exact playing styles. Do you consider yourself an offense-oriented juggernaut? You can achieve this power at the expense of your life gauge or defensive abilities. As an added bonus, using the best equipment to achieve your perfect stat-based fighter usually leaves you with a horrifyingly mish-mash costume combination.
Those Lizards Have Forks!
Usually my matches against someone de-evolve into us both picking random characters and having it out. The random character selection in SCIV is neat in that it will generate a random persona for you to use from the gound up. You pick either male or female archetypes, and the character creation engine cooks up something completely absurd for you to fight with. Be warned: the random engine seems to really like the monacle, adding a vaguely British air to every man-faced, lizard-skinned woman the game sees fit to birth.
The same armor, stance, and weapon variety that makes the random character generator so terrifying also gives the game quite a bit of depth. You'll spend more time with your favorite characters, since you can level up their individual fighting styles and unlock more weapon sets and costume pieces. It is a fine thing indeed to have your "go-to" character completely customized to your playing style.
A Disturbance in the Force
Online play can be very rewarding or very frustration, depending on your opponents. At its best, SCIV shines with no-lag rematch after rematch with people's custom creations. At its worst, the game almost breaks the competitive spirit by including, inexplicably, either Yoda or Darth Vader in the fighter roster. Vader is relatively balanced, but Yoda is UNGRABBABLE, tiny, and a boon to all the fifteen year-old button-mashers out there who want to only use a severely overpowered and broken character. As a result, sometimes you can face a LOT of Yoda online. Usually taunting and insults can goad someone to switch characters, so all may not be lost.
Two Soul Edges Up!
Despite the irritation that is Yoda, Sould Calibur IV shines brightly as a highly polished, well-balanced, and addictive fighting experience, both online and off. You may not get that much out of the survival game mode and some of the character's stories may leave a little something to be desired, but you'll rarely find yourself not having fun.
Soul Calibur IV
Publisher: Namco Bandai
ESRB: M for Mature
Rating 87/100 Buy it New!