System: Xbox 360 (also on: PS3)
Developer: Project Soul
Soul Calibur 4, released July 29, 2008 by Namco is the fourth installment of the Soul Calibur series, and the fifth installment of the Soul series. There was another Soul Calibur game/spin-off, Soul Calibur Legends, released for the Wii in 2007, though it was an action-adventure rather than a fighting game, and thus is not considered to be part of the series.
Soul Calibur 4 takes after its predecessors in many ways, and if you’re familiar with gameplay in the previous games, this one won’t feel much different.
As with every fighter, you use a combination of the d-pad or the directional stick, along with the normal ABXY to perform different moves. If you’ve played any other fighter, the controls won’t take you long to figure out. For anyone else, it may take a couple fights to really get the hang of things.
As I’m sure everyone has heard at some point in their life, the best offense is a good defense. The game even throws that quote into the game at some point before one of the stages, and it doesn’t stray too far from the truth. In Soul Calibur 4, to really master the controls, you must be able to block a lot of attacks that your opponents throw.
The graphics, just like the controls, take after the other games, with a strong Japanese anime style. That said, the graphics are really great. They improved massively over the previous title, which really isn’t that surprising since it was a Playstation 2 exclusive, and that never really made a whole lot of sense to me. Anyway, the majority of character attacks have a nice glowing motion blur following them. All of the stages are done beautifully and very nicely detailed. Honestly, the only bad thing graphically is they didn’t put in support for standard 4:3 televisions, forcing us to use a widescreen view, which cuts off some of the picture at the top and bottom.
The sounds in the game are done quite well and feature realistic sounding clashes of metal when weapons strike each other, along with other sounds of the same quality. The music is just as it should be, and sets the mood more than adequately, but how many people buy a Soul Calibur game for the music? I’m sure you’re much more interested in the…
Ah, the gameplay. What usually makes or breaks a game. In this case, it does both. Soul Calibur 4 does what it’s supposed to, and that’s being a fucking awesome fighter. What it doesn’t do, however, is give someone who doesn’t have XBOX-Live something to consume a lot of their time. The game has 3 main modes: Arcade, Story, and Tower of Lost Souls. Story mode, well, it’s pretty much boring as can be, as it’s basically Arcade mode without the timer or increasingly difficult opponents. Tower of Lost Souls is pretty cool, you have to ascend a tower (of lost souls, I assume), and each sector has a certain number of floors and enemies. During each sector, your characters don’t revive or regain their health, which is a real pain in the ass on some sectors.
For anyone playing on XBOX-Live, they had better be prepared to face people who play one character religiously and know every single combo that the character can do. Of course, there will be people at the opposite end of the spectrum also who just pick the coolest looking character and button mash their way through every match. Either way, XBOX-Live proves to be a lot of fun in this game, as you can never know how good the person you’re going to face is.
Returning from SC3, this game also has character customization, but it’s been changed quite a bit. In Soul Calibur 4, you can either create a brand new character and customize it to look exactly the way you want, or you can customize an existing character and change their gear mainly, which can be very confusing the first time, as they don’t give very good explanations. After my second customization, I figured out what everything was and how it all works. If you have trouble with it, I’d suggest looking up more information about it.
If you don’t have XBOX-Live, I wouldn’t suggest buying this game. I would, however, suggest renting it. The game is great fun for anyone playing on XBL, and can prove to be a long-lasting title.
- Great graphics
- Captivating music
- Fun gameplay
- Doesn’t support standard 4:3 televisions
- Gameplay is short-lived without XBL
- Limited selection of items for customization
Overall: 8/10 (Great)
Graphics: 8/10 (would have been higher if they had 4:3 support)
Replay Value: 8/10