I must admit that I have never played fighting games. Back when I was young, there was Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Tekken, but I was playing Asteroids, Donkey Kong and Pole Position. I've always known about them but it was never my thing. I have always played racing and platform games. Gran Turismo and Sonic The Hedgehog come to mind. So when I was presented with Soulcalibur IV, I honestly didn't know what to expect.
For instance, I did not know that each character in the game has a whole back story that intertwines with all the other characters. Why they are fighting to attain the Soulcalibur or Soul Edge swords and what they would use the power for. Good or Evil. Without any knowledge of these characters' back stories, there can be a lot of confusion upon starting the game. Why does this character do this? Well, you can learn all about them by reading their story at the start of Story Mode. And there are lots of them, so put your reading glasses on and get to it.
There are four single player modes to choose from (Story, Tower of Lost Souls, Arcade and Training). Two multiplayer modes (Standard Versus and Special Versus). And four online modes (Standard Versus, Special Versus, Friends Match and Ranked Matches). I tried to play a couple games online, but had little success finding a match I could do well in. Soulcalibur IV was released in July 2008, so I'm guessing that people who are playing online have had some time to get REALLY good. I got my butt kicked is putting it lightly.
Story mode in Soulcalibur IV is where I got the most play in. There are two difficulty settings in story mode, normal and hard. I took a chance and started on normal. No pain, no gain right? After reading the short story at the beginning about the character, you jump right into the fighting. Button mashers and strategic players can both win in normal mode here. You will fight through five levels, each a little more difficult than the last until you reach the top, where you fight Algol, the guy who wields the Soulcalibur and Soul Edge swords. He's a bad ass, but on normal mode, he can be beaten with decent button mashing timing.
And that might just be the best part of Soulcalibur IV. You can just jump in and get to the fighting without having to memorize a lot of combinations. With basic timing and single button moves, it is possible to have fun in this game and feel challenged. Of course, by memorizing the buttons and timing, there are crazy finishing moves that can be seen when done right. I tried to memorize a couple, but couldn't ever get it right to pull them off. I do have it on good authority, that they do exist and are very cool to see. Which means I need to mention graphics. The graphics are really nice despite being only 720p. The fight arena's are beautiful, not that you will have a lot of time to look at them while fighting. The sound is nice too, although I didn't find it to be a standout.
Soulcalibur IV has one really cool feature that I really need to mention. Character Customization. Yep, you can make your very own, personal Soulcalibur character. Male or female, colors, shapes and sizes, the possibilities are endless. Basic costumes and weapons are available at the start, but by playing the character and meeting certain criteria in a match, you will unlock new costume and weapon items to enhance your characters abilities and stamina. It is very cool. I had a lot of fun making my own characters and then seeing how they would do in matches. Which weapons and armor work best and changing and upgrading them throughout the game.
Overall this is a really fun game. Playable for beginners and veterans alike, with lots of game modes to keep you busy for a long time. The character customization was my favorite part and will keep a player busy for hours. Learning about all the standard Soulcalibur characters is interesting and each of them have their own stories, moves and combos. Soulcalibur IV is rated T for teens although I would say T is a stretch on this one. Partial nudity (thong bikinis and huge breasts) and sexual themes (heaving breasts), violence and mild language make it a bit titillating. Did I mention the breasts? My five-year-old godson couldn't stop saying "boobies" and "look at her butt" when he saw the game. Check this one out, and I guarantee you will be having fun fighting in no time, just make sure the littles are out playing or tucked away in bed!
Namco Bandai Games America
Release July 29, 2008
Rating: T (teen) for violence and suggestive themes
Soulcalibur IV WEBSITE