[Shock Value is a bi-weekly segment which runs down inexpensive titles that are more than worth the money spent.]
- Title: Soul Calibur IV
- Developer: Project Soul
- Publisher: Namco Bandai
- Genre: Fighting
- Release: July 2008
- Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360,
- Pricing: PS3 New: $13, PS3 Used: $10, X360 New: $13, X360 Used: $10,
Soul Calibur IV is the newest in the long running and namely popular Soul Calibur series. The game brings together the visuals, music and game play that it’s always been known for along with an awesome character creation suite and the everlasting competition and fun of the internet.
This game is a must have for those even remotely interested in the fighting genre. Namco has brought just about everything you could want from a SC game in spades. The visuals are bright, crisp and dripping with polish. Environments are lush and detailed and an expanse of characters present various, eye catching designs.
From the obscure and macabre Voldo to the erotic and highly stylized Ivy. The cast of characters and locations encompass a wide variety of nations and cultures including Asia, Europe and South America. Lovely art and graphics make the game a visual feast, worthy of HD consoles.
The famously composed music is back with a range of orchestral and classical arrangements that give each battle a grandiose and epic backdrop. You and your foe will duel to the death to more than seventy gorgeous tracks.
The story is a continuation of “the tale of souls and swords” (eternally retold). I hate to say it but it doesn’t do much new. In the tradition of past games, the various factions and forces vie to either destroy or harness the powers of two swords: Soul Calibur and Soul Edge. You’ll get to view some awesome cut scenes during story mode though, if it’s any consolation. But let’s be frank, you don’t really play fighters for story. Unless it’s BlazBlue of course.
Moving on, the combat is fast and more fluid than ever before. A variety of new game play elements bolster the tried and true combo stringing, juggle prone fighting you’ve come to expect. Armor becomes less effective as it is broken off of your opponent and new flashy finishing moves deliver the ultimate punishment for turtling or blocking repeatedly.
Each character has around one hundred attacks, techniques and maneuvers for you to master so while the game isn’t at all hard to pick up, it’ll be a good while before you are truly good. The online mode dumps in hundreds of hours of replay value with endless challenge and competition. The net coding is fluid and smooth most of the time but it does have its moments of severe lag. It is better than the online play in Tekken 6 (which is strange since that game is newer) while not as satisfying as BlazBlue’s. It also has a dedicated fan base and is quite alive even years after release.
The tower of souls adds a wealth of content that can be enjoyed locally or offline in the form of challenges. There are many floors in the tower and working your way to the top nets rewards like money and armor or weapons.
Character creation is back and is better in some ways and worse in some ways than it was in Soul Calibur III. First of all, the amount of detailing and customizing you can do is greater in this game than the last. However, picking a fighting style for your character has been streamlined to selecting another character’s style and lacks the numerous hybrid styles that were available in the third game. The absence of the chronicles of the sword game mode is also noticeable.
Summarily, those minor complaints do nothing to keep Soul Calibur IV from being one of this generation’s defining fighters. Namco’s beloved series has captivated fans for over a decade and this game puts that mastery on full display. If you’re a fan of fighters or just action games in general, this one is a must own.