A whole lotta soul
So it was my turn to lead the reviews and I really should have posted this yesterday but it’s been harder than I thought – and for good cause, Soul Calibur IV is a lot better than I thought. Moh0k had a bit of time with the game before I picked up a copy, and his initial opinion seemed a little lacklustre. I’ll let him talk more about his experience, but the signs he was giving off weren’t promising, especially in relation to the inclusion of Star Wars characters – a particularly sore point for me as I’m quite the Star Wars fan and have been slightly dreading the release of SCIV since the Vader/Yoda cameos were first revealed.
So my first impressions were fairly positive. I played through the Story mode a few times with familiar characters from Soul Calibur 2 (the last entry in the series that I played) and used the credits I’d collected to purchase all the buy-able fighters. After re-familiarising myself with favourites Talim, Ivy and Voldo, I decided I needed to take the plunge and play as Yoda.
Ultimately all I can say about Yoda, and The Apprentice, is that they feel out of place. It seems an obvious thing to say, but it’s not just about lightsabers alongside swords, axes and hammers, it’s about the feel of the fighter and the way they fit into the game. Yoda is definitely overpowered – being short, most attacks go over his head and he’s nearly impossible to grab for throws. His attacks aren’t fast or strong, but he’s agile and can avoid a lot of what’s thrown at him. By contrast, The Apprentice feels a lot more “at home” in the game. He’s a proper sized human for starters, so he’s on level pegging with the other fighters. He’s got a good range of attacks and powers, and the Force Bar balances his bigger attacks well. (Force Powers use up Force and can’t be used until the bar refills) Although The Apprentice made me feel a little better, it was obvious he was included solely for the purpose of pushing the new Star Wars game on the horizon – The Force Unleashed – there’s even a special section for a SW:TFU trailer and behind-the-scenes type thing. (I honestly didn’t watch it, but that’s another story) If anything, Yoda and The Apprentice made me wish for another Star Wars fighter, kind of like Master of Teras Kasi, only good.
So I’d experienced all the fighters currently in the game; there’s a mysteriously blank square between Yoda and The Apprentice which I can only assume has been set aside for a DLC Vader. Nothing left but to check out the Customer Character Creator, which is amazing. I seriously loved this, I’ve probably spent a good 3 hours making new characters, playing around with giving different fighting styles to the opposite gender (Males really shouldn’t use Cassandra’s style unless you’re going for a seriously effeminate dude, yet oddly Females seem fine with using Rock’s or Astaroth’s styles), and outfitting them with the most badass armour money can buy.
So now I’ve got to say something meaningful about what I thought. Graphically, Soul Calibur provides what I think we’ve come to expect from current-gen titles. The music is quite good, including a whole lot of Star Wars music for two whole Star Wars levels, including Duel of Fates. The gameplay is solid, it’s honestly an uphill battle to screw up a fighting game, although using a controller (as opposed to arcade stick) does impose a small learning curve. I ended up resting the control pad on my leg so I could hit all the buttons & triggers and be able to switch between them quickly without letting go of the controller and dropping it on the floor (happened a few times in the early rounds). So really, it’s done quite well in my books. I honestly think SC2 is better, even without the character creator, but it’s currently the best current-gen fighter. Even post-Street Fighter IV, I think Soul Calibur will be the pick for 360 (but I’ll be happy to be proven wrong). Everything taken into account, I think Soul Calibur is worth
It’s a solid, well balanced 3D fighter with great longevity across multiple play modes. And the character creator is probably worth a third of the whole package.