Soulcalibur IV is the fifth installment in the Soul series which originated about twelve years ago, and it’s the fourth Soulcalibur game, if you couldn’t tell by the title. The series itself is raved about for having one of the most balanced combat system in a fighting series ever. Namco Bandai maintains that, even though sometimes it feels kind of cheap with specific characters, throughout Soulcalibur IV, but there are some issues with the game that some people will not like in the least bit.
Whether the story is really great or practically terrible depends on who you ask. Personally I’m not too huge on it, especially in Soulcalibur IV. Basically, no matter who you pick as a fighter, they really, really want Soul Edge (and sometimes Soul Calibur). The way the story is told is, quite frankly brutal. They don’t explain why certain fighters really care about the swords, and if you pick Darth Vader, the story is pathetic. I don’t really mind that, because I know adding Star Wars characters was just a tie-in for money and they really do not contribute anything to Soulcalibur, no matter how balanced they are. For each character there is five stages, easily beatable in ten minutes. In total, there are 34 characters. 24 returning, 2 new characters, 3 “guest” characters, and 5 bonus characters.
Of course there is the mode which consists of eight stages, getting progressively more difficult as it goes on. There is also the mode, where you either Ascend the tower through 20 floors, extinguishing bosses and picking up treasure and items along the way, or Descend the tower, seeing how many fighters you can kill. If this game did not bear the Soulcalibur name, it would be amazing. However, because it is part of the series, I’ve come to expect a certain level of greatness, and I do not feel Soulcalibur IV has it like the original Soulcalibur did. The character creation from Soulcalibur III is also in the game, and it’s pretty awesome, adding some depth to the game.
The online isn’t terrible, but it’s not that amazing. It suffers from a load of problems including heavy lag and inability to find matches easily. When you do find a match, it takes about 15 minutes from my experience, and the match only lasts a few. It’s a little disappointing, but it’s a great step in the right direction, if not fixed by patches. There is, of course, local multiplayer, if you do not feel like playing online with friends.
Soulcalibur IV is a good game based off of it’s own merits, but as an installment into one of the better fighting series, it’s average at best. If you didn’t like Soulcalibur before, this game probably won’t change your mind. Dare I say it, it’s a tad stuck in the past. Still, what really matters is if a great fighting game keeps you wanting to play more. It’s absolutely gorgeous graphically and the mechanics are still extremely balanced. If you don’t take it too seriously, Soulcalibur IV is a good game, worthy of a fighter fans collection undoubtedly. It successfully keeps it fun and interesting, and it’s great with friends.