Now this is a game thatâ€™s been getting a lot of attention (not least from our own humble website). With the announcement that Yoda and Darth Vader would join the usual ranks of swordsmen, axe wielders, and pole bearers, the game suddenly got noticed by a bunch of new people. So does it stand up to all the hype and scrutiny bestowed on it? In a word, yes.
For those who somehow missed out on all the hype, the Soul Calibur series focuses on weapon-based combat, providing a huge range of characters and fighting styles, all wrapped up in pretty graphics and an excellent combat system. Button mashers can get a lot of mileage out of this one â€“ something people criticize it for â€“ but thereâ€™s an incredible amount of depth here as well, providing a lot of things to learn for pros.
SC IV sports an insane amount of content. You might think fighting games donâ€™t traditionally have many meaty modes, but this one has quite a few. Thereâ€™s your basic arcade mode, some short story modes, and the standard array of versus modes. But you can also play the Tower of Lost Souls mode, a rather epic and varied journey up (and down) a tower. Youâ€™ll be faced with a wide series of increasingly difficult challenges, as you try to get to the top and bottom.
Along the way, youâ€™ll unlock extra items for the character creation mode. This mode is in itself deep enough to sink some serious time into, especially when youâ€™ve got a lot of items unlocked. The sheer scope of this mode is pretty impressive, and a lot of fun can be had from making your own character and facing it off against your mates.
If you donâ€™t happen to have any friends nearby, you can battle them over the net â€“ a first for the series. While performance will vary depending on the quality of your (crappy New Zealand) internet connection, the robustness of the online features is pretty impressive â€“ this ainâ€™t no barebones operation.
For longtime fans, youâ€™ll notice a few minor changes to the gameplay. The usefulness of sidestepping feels slightly gimped, at least when compared to older Soul Calibur games. It also feels like itâ€™s easier to punish people on the ground or in the air â€“ and when thatâ€™s combined with the new breakable armour/Soul Gauge system, you wonâ€™t want to stay on the defensive too much.
Iâ€™m not totally convinced of all the changes, but itâ€™s hard to complain when thereâ€™s just so much to this game. The character roster is impressively large, the graphics are stunning, and the gameplay is as fast and smooth as ever. I had particular fun with Darth Vader â€“ it took us ages to defeat Algol, the final boss in arcade mode, but we finally did it with the exact same throw that Vader used on the Emperor in the Star Wars movies that threw him off the side of the ring. Good times.
All in all, this game is definitely worth checking out, even if youâ€™re only vaguely into fighting games. Itâ€™s much easier to get into than Tekken or Virtua Fighter, and the characters are generally â€“ in my opinion at least â€“ much more interesting. If youâ€™re sitting on the fence, give this one a rent. But if you consider yourself a fighting fan or a longtime Soul Cal vet, thenâ€¦well, youâ€™ve probably bought this already.