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Soul Calibur IV

Labeled With  soul calibur iv xbox360 namco
Written by DM on Monday, August 04 2008

Soul Calibur IV has been a semi-long time coming, and Soul Calibur 3 was, at best, a mediocre effort. The Soul Calibur franchise, for those who do not know, is pretty much considered the end-all-be-all of weapon-based fighting games. The original Soul Calibur on Dreamcast one of the best all-around titles for the forgotten Sega console, and it actually still holds up today (you can download it on the Xbox Live Arcade for some quick fun). What it also did, though, is finally gave gamers who did not “click” with the hand-to-hand fighters available at the time, an alternative, and a quality one at that. The game has spawned three sequels, and while SC2 has as many fans as the original game, the last installment was mostly ill-received. Does this fourth installment and supposed series revamp deliver what Namco is promising? Let’s find out.

If nothing else, there is no denying that Soul Calibur IV is, graphically, the best looking fighting game out there. Not only are the 30+ characters diverse and exotic looking, but the stages and environments that the battles take place in are as lush and colorful as a gamer could want. Of course, in true SC fashion, the arenas are not very interactive, with the odd exception here and there. And yes, it runs at 60fps, and it looks as good as the screenshots.

As we all know, though, looks aren’t everything, and as we also all know, most fighting games look great graphically because all that the hardware need display and load into memory are the fighters and a small arena. No huge levels to use the hardware’s resources on. What any fighting game’s success hinges on is the depth and ease of the mechanics. Well, I am happy to say that SC4, while not as deep as, say, Tekken, does come close enough to make the game worthwhile.

As I said, the game sports around 30 characters. About 10 of these characters, though, are basically clones of other fighters with different skins and weapon models. Still, a cast of 20 characters is more than enough to provide hours upon hours of play.

SC4, fortunately, has a great amount of single player gaming included on-disc. First, there is the standard Arcade mode that every fighter has, where you can play against the AI in order to learn the game’s ins and outs, without many game strings attached. There is also a Story mode included, which is where you will be doing most of your single player gaming. Each character has a story to tell, and it is related through the 5-round story mode of each player. As you beat each successive round, you will be treated to another part of the character’s storyline, although, truth be told, there is not much to any of the tales. All you get is a few lines of cut scene dialogue, if you are lucky, and if you are really lucky, you will get an epilogue screen with a bit of text. No full-CG ending movies here, folks. Oh, and, expect repeats as well.

Where Soul Calibur IV holds the bulk of its game play is the Character Creation mode. This is where you use the gold you have earned in the other modes to buy new characters, buy equipment for the characters you have unlocked, and even make entirely new fighters, if you so desire. You are given a base amount of items to customize your players with, and if you want to unlock more, you can do so using the Tower of Lost Soul mode.

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