|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Project Soul||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 29, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
With SoulCalibur IV you're not going to get bored. The game has more options than its predecessors, including Training, Arcade, Story, and Tower of the Lost Souls mode; these are all part of the single-player campaign. Tower of what? Yes, that's what I thought. However, this is one of the most entertaining ventures included in the game. Initially, you'll have to climb up to the top of the tower, facing enemies in every level.
Since it's a fighting game, you won't really see your character go up the tower, but you will fight one or more enemies in every floor, and defeating them will lead you to the next level. Once you reach the top (20th floor) and beat the boss, the descent option will become available. In this case, the goal is to battle hordes of enemies as you go down the tower (not literally) and get as far as possible. It's a good way to progressively learn new abilities, level-up your character, and, while at it, prove your skills.
Arcade is simply a quick play mode with eight stages where you end up unlocking The Apprentice from the upcoming LucasArts title, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Equipment and weapon effects are not used here, but the final score will be ranked. You'd think Story mode is where is at, wouldn't you? But it's not exactly the case. You can select either normal or hard difficulties, and then choose a character. By playing through the Story mode with each character, you'll learn about their background, why they started to fight, and how far they've gone since then. The stories are actually quite short, and despite the awesome cutscene we saw at the beginning of the game (before you press start), their lives are not explained with much CG footage. In fact, they'll make you read a bunch of paragraphs before playing Story mode with each character! I guess they figured it's better to go short and to the point, and if anyone wants to skip the text, so be it. Oh well At least the fights are really fun and you'll get rewarded with a bunch of gold that can be cashed in for new characters, artwork, equipment and weapon upgrades, etc.
Another nice aspect of the game, and perhaps the most in-depth, is the Character Creation mode. What's more fun than using your favorite characters and making them stronger by leveling-up? My answer would be to create your very own character from scratch or to "pimp-out" the existing ones with awesome gear, lots of special moves, weapon upgrades, etc. Sure, some of these options cost game-cash, but that's what it's for!
In the Character Creation mode you can change or add anything you can think of, from tunics, hoods, hats, armor, gloves, leggings, bracelets, socks, shoes, and scarves. You can customize each and every color, change the hair style, eyes and face, equip them with new weapons, and assign them different skill sets, poses, and names. Thanks to these great options, players will be able to express themselves and take their characters online to battle it out.
Online play is solid, and certainly one of the perks of the game. It's great to be able to play by yourself and improve your character, but many of you will want to prove your skills in online battles, either in ranked or player matches, with or without equipment and weapon effects. I wasn't extremely successful online just yet, but battling against other people real-time is always fun. In a couple of occasions I ran into framerate drops, probably due to a slower Internet connection of one of the players. Other than that, it worked smoothly the rest of the time. One weird issue I had happened every time I selected "Quick Match" on Xbox LIVE. I always ended up with the message "This game session is full." I doubt this connectivity issue will happen to everyone, but I thought it was worth noting, as people who connect their consoles to the Internet through a wireless router often encounter issues like these. I had no problem at all when selecting any of the other options though, so it wasn't a big deterrent for me.