I love the Soul Calibur games. There’s something nice and shiny about them and it’s so easy to pick up and play that anyone can join in the fun without having to be a fighting master – I’m talking to you Virtua Fighter. Soul Calibur IV is the first game for the new batch of consoles and boy does it look pretty! All your favourite characters are there along with a few new ones and the ability to make your own character based on current characters’ fighting styles or you can modify current characters with new clothes, hair, weapons and abilities you earn whilst playing through the various play modes.
You can assign abilities to your characters to give them the edge in battle – whether it’s activating unblockable attacks or permanent attributes that up the chances of counters, breaking grapples or shaving energy off characters even if they block. And if they block too much you can break their armour which is an amusing touch, or more importantly unleash an unblockable super attack which will end the battle once-and-for-all.
Single player story mode sees you play through a short five stages with each character. Short but sweet as there are so many characters to play with – each with different endings. Arcade mode lets you play through 8 stages and posts your scores up on the PSNetwork. Then there’s the Tower of Lost Souls mode where you have to descend or ascend the ‘tower’ with two or more characters working as a tag team. It’s broken up into levels. Ascending the tower will take a while as you fight all manner of opponents and earn rewards for using special abilities and meeting criteria. When making your way down you keep the same characters and see how far you can get in a sort of survival mode.
And now for the first time you can take your skills online and play against your mates or randoms in either ranked or player matches so if you lack someone in the same room as you, you can do it over the net. A word of warning though – the standard seems to be very high – I’ve had my arse kicked, lots! I’ve been playing the PS3 version which means Darth Vader has joined the party and he’s great fun to play with. His attacks are balanced, he looks and sounds the part and fits right in. I’ve heard the Xbox 360 Yoda isn’t quite as suited to the game but I’ll have to play it to find out.
And before I finish here’s a handy hint – make sure you install the game onto your hard drive in the options menu as this cuts down loading times between stages dramatically. Soul Calibar 4 is a solid fighting game with so many options it’ll have you playing alone or with mates for months to come. It gets an excellent 8 out of 10.
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