A true next generation experience
August 22, 2008
A few weeks ago Namco Bandai Games released the latest installment of one of my favorite games, Soul Calibur IV. The biggest news with this game is the ability to play your opponents online and character customization. I also was excited to see Darth Vader and Yoda from Star Wars.
Soul Calibur IV has come a long way since the original version released for the Sega’s Dreamcast in 1999, yet playing it is extremely familiar if you’re already a Soul Calibur fan. The game has so much more added to give you a true next generation experience. As you battle, your protective armor is broken off and lacerations of clothing are shown to give you a visual on damages.
Regardless of what character you play, it’s user-friendly enough that even first-timers should-n’t have any problem jumping right into it. The general goal is to deplete your opponent’s health bar, or try to knock them out of the ring. You’ll do yourself a favor if you master the basics of your character’s controls, especially when to block and the timing of your hits. You don’t need to absolutely know all the combo attacks, but these basics will help you beat your opponents effectively. The nice thing in the Story mode is the character switch option - by pushing the R1 button (PlayStation 3), it’ll automatically switch to another character just in case your health bar is running low or you want to try another guy/gal mid-fight.
The game features four different modes: Story (go through the story while earning money for upgrades and new equipment), Arcade (play eight stages and earn points towards online rank), Training and Tower of Lost Souls (choose to fight enemies while ascending or descending this 60-foot tower).
I started off in Story mode with my Xianghua gal. After I finished all the stages with her, I decided to use her to try out the character-creation mode. This feature is one of the things that make this game stand out from the rest of the fighter genre. You can choose your character from the existing ones the game offers, or create one fro m scratch. There are literally countless ways to customize your character with weapons, armor pieces, garments, hair color, assorted accessories (i.e. neckpieces, bracelets), etc. While you’re choosing these items, a handy chart on the right side of your screen indicates whether or not adding the selected items will enhance your strengths or increase your weaknesses. Keep in mind the more you use your customized characters, the more options you can unlock.
If you don’t have a lot of time, the Story mode is extremely short and perfect for that 10-15 minute block. The Tower of Lost Souls is where you’ll find the majority of the best single-player gameplay. Here you spend your time descending the tower one floor at a time while you’re fighting off multiple enemy groups without health replenishment.
It’s a little disappointing that you can’t play the PlayStation 3 Darth Vader against the Xbox 360 Yoda since they’re on the two different platforms, but it’s still cool to even see them on the game as guest characters. In addition, you can unlock The Apprentice in both versions, but it takes a little work. Playing in the online mode is great too - you never know whom you’re battling with on the other side of the world.
I still love Soul Calibur after all these years. It’s going to take awhile for me to become bored with Soul Calibur IV. For all you Soul Calibur or fighting game fans, this is a must-have.
Soul Calibur IV is rated “T” for Teen, available for the PS3 and Xbox 360, and sells for $59.99.
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