Soulcalibur IV

2008-12-07 21:54:08

Soulcalibur IV (Xbox360)

Just so you fighter fans know where I come from. I know many competitive gamers swear by the Street Fighter engine as the best competitive fighter in history. This genre includes Marvel Vs Capcom, SF II, II Turbo, Alpha, SF II: Your Mom Edition, the list goes on. I played SF II and I liked it as I also liked Marvel Vs Capcom and all those romps, but my heart has only really gone out to two threads of the fighter Genre. Mortal Kombat, and Soulcalibur. I started out in Mortal Kombat simply because it had the gore factor and my genesis let me have the gore just by punching in a simple code. Me and my father would roll that game and had a blast. I played the series up until they went to the 3d format, and then I totally lost interest, because the game just went crazy retarded from there. I jumped into soulcalibur shortly thereafter and that's where I've been in the fighting scene ever since.

Now I'm in no way a super elite when it comes to playing soulcalibur, while I can usually take on the everyman(friends and family that come to my house) and win I typically cannot beat the gamers that are truly obsessed with the series, that said I'm going to break down for you the newest and greatest Soulcalibur so far. Soulcalibur 4.

Let me clear the elephant out of the room right from the get go. JEDIS? wtf were you thinking Namco? little Lucasarts knob polishing to get extra cash in your bank? While the Jedi inclusion(Yoda and the Apprentice from the new Force Unleashed game) just plain reeks of capitalistic grabassery, the Jedi's themselves are fun if not completely unbalanced. Yoda cannot be thrown, and jumps around like a crack addicted monkey as he pummels the shit out of his foes. And he can force heal. The apprentice has some majorly heavy damaging attacks that make him outright insane to play against. In fact he damn near makes Arcade mode impossible as he's super crazy powerful in that setting. So the Jedi thing is a bad thing for what it represents in the gaming industry, a huge selling out. It is also a good thing in that it finally gives people something to play that can let them simulate jedi battles anytime they want, and eventually Vader will be coming to the 360 and epic yoda vader battles can ensue.

Some things brought to the table in SC4 is a continuation of the Create-A-Soul feature. this feature has been pretty well fleshed out and has a pretty big impact to how things are done in the new game. First off there is the concept of stats that has been thrust into this game, to which some progamers might roll their eyes at initially because who wants to do math when they could be practicing their epic combos to win instead? but the Create-a-Soul process really shines in that instead of a specific weapon carrying a specific set of bonuses, you can gain bonuses elsewhere. My method of building a character involves picking which of their special weapons I want to use, some rare ones may contain a special feature(like Soulcalibur granting life leeching, but most will just feature an array of baseline stats. they will affect your hit points, your offense and defensive capability. And then typically 3 of 5 stats - strength, impact, boost, gauge, and special. after that I strip the character naked and begin applying clothes to accentuate the characters baselines. once that's figured out I apply my skills. You can have up to 4 special abilities per loadout created.

You gain access to special abilities by playing that character or characters fighting style multiple times until you reach lvl 9, which is the max cap for skillsets. The only downfalls to the Create-A-Soul system is that there is an arbitrary limit of 50 customized characters. which I think is entirely shitty as there are many more opportunities to create a custom character than there are slots to hold them all. if I wanted to create special builds for every weapon for every character, and some custom build characters, I'd quickly run out of space. The other side which you may have guessed by now is that to use a special weapon you have to create a loadout that uses that weapon. gone is the simple arcadey choose fighter then choose weapon motif, now you pick your outfit which also picks your weapon since they are built into the outfit.

A sad thing to see missing in 4 that was pretty nice in 3 was the Tournament game type. Where you could host a versus game and have tons of people come over to play in a tournament setting, which ladders generated by the game and run, with special weapon abilities all off to ensure complete fairness. This has been removed so Vs just consists of special Vs and Normal Vs depending on whether you want special attacks turned on or not. Gone is the adventure game that let you create a custom soul with multiple weapon types in 3, instead single player can either Train, Arcade, Story, or Tower of Souls. The tower consists of going up a 60 floor tower which consists of some very specific challenges to teach you the nuances of the game, and descending as many as possible for glory and gold the other direction. this gimmick is also how you can unlock certain armor pieces through meeting the preset challenges for each floor. All in all we see 2 great features disappear, but we get 1 new great one.

The default controls are kind of weak, like many games before them Namco has decided to simplify certain button presses by linking them to shoulder and trigger buttons. In 4 the right bumper engages your switch, so you can swap between characters on your team. left bumper performs presses all the face buttons at once(ABXY) to perform critical attacks(like Mortal Kombat Finishing moves without the blood), right trigger presses A+B+K so it basically performs a taunt on button press or activates special abilities. and left trigger is assigned to A+G for throws. Coming from previous Soul Caliburs I'm used to having guard as both on the face buttons and on the shoulder, but by default this is not the case, as they have thrown in a new throw key. Though you can feel free to remap these as you can still throw using the old fashioned method.

Another added feature is the use of the soul gauge for something other than boosted damage. Now the more you hit the enemy without being blocked the more your soul gauge increases, the more you're blocked, or are hit the more your soul gauge decreases. If your soul gauge decreases far enough, your HP meter will flash red, if that happens, all your opponent needs to do is perform a guard break or strong attack, and once you are stunned hit his Critical Finisher button, and next thing you know, your character is finished, regardless of how many hitpoints you had.

Level destruction from Soul Calibur 3 stuck around, and is combined with new armor destruction, so not only can you leave huge welts in the map with Astaroths axe, but you can also strip your enemies almost naked with precision and repeated attacks to one are of the body. Top, Mid, and Low are all seperate components of the armor that you can attack. Most of the main characters their uniforms just go to tatters, while Create-A-Soul style characters will practically bear all when damaged enough.

Lastly we come to another addition, multiplayer using the Xbox Live service. Even though Xbox Live is a premier service and usually links people with great connections to each other, that cannot possibly compensate for the reality that even with the best of connections, some Lag will be present. As such the online venue cannot truly be heralded as a competitive culture, despite having ranked and unranked play. The trouble is that the lag essentially destroys the reactive game, meaning you can't use your reflexes and instincts to time blocks and strikes, you have to use a slightly different strategy. The problem with this facet is until you are used to the online play, you will never be good at it, as in local play you can play reactive, you can anticipate attacks. With the lag you can't anticipate anything because the pause might be the enemy baiting you, or he could have just lagged for a split second, and his attack may already be committed by the time you decide to break out of block to take the offensive..

Reason Rank
Start 10
More of the same and improved upon +3
holy shit I just stripped your character down! +2
Well expanded Create a Soul +5
Fucking Jedi Sellout bullshit and Anime Girl bonus characters. Where's my dancer class fighter?




I know, todays rating is a first at Raging Geek, but this game does enough right, that it cancels out the fact that it sucked on George Lucas's withered penis, and has shit for bonus characters. so 10/10. in my ranking system it's not the best possible, but it's the best probable.