Soul Calibur IV
A strange things, Soul Calibur IV. On one side you get rock hard action, hardcore gameplay in one of the most serious genres, added wiht niche-defining weapons, and on the other side you get treated with everything testosteron-confused geeks get off on: big boobs, a whirling Yoda and graphics that make your HD TV seems worth its money.
I for one am not bothered by that (draw your own conclusions…) as this series has always been a fun piece of entertainment since its launch in 1999. This time the makers haven’t only concentrated to the sweet parts but also done some major changes in the gameplay. Each character has now got a Soul Gauge: fight like a girl and your clothes or harnes will get cut to pieces by your opponent after a while. Helmet, leg protectors or chest piece, once you loose them that part of your body will sustain more damage when it gets hit. A big incentive to not just play defensive but also give some decent blows yourself. Even more, talented players can use the moments where armor gets blown away to perform a Critical Finish after which the victim can say goodbye to his life. Luckily these attacks are very difficult to perform and avoidable.
In the end this change is a small idea, but one that makes a big difference. It forces you to think offensive and that’s what this Soul Calibur IV is all about: attacking with skill, defending where necessary and thinking tactically without becoming a boring chess game of hits or a math study that exists out of learning combos by heart. Sweet! Of course also other tweaks have been done to the gameplay, like throws that can more easily be stopped. Equally fun are the new arenas that look better than ever and where you can throw your opponent out of the fight zone if you would want that.
Nobody will feel a lack of variation in characters. There are over 30 to play with and more to unlock or buy depending on your progress in the various modes. Even more, you can create your own fighter (through a very extensive peronalisation system) and even change their look if you don’t like their face too much.
Humiliating computer opponents can be fun already, but it gets really nice when you can kill your friends or unknown online gamers. There are ranked and unranked fights and the lag is mostly doable. Especially when you’re not a specialist you won’t have any problems with it and this addition is one we certainly could appreciate.
Those that don’t have Xbox Live will be able to have fun with the Story mode, Arcade mode and the Tower Of Lost Souls where you need to fight yourself a way through a tower (and back) while groups of hostiles try to change your mind about that. Refreshing for me wasn’t only that those assholes that try to kill you are all very varied and fight, but that you also sometimes get extra missions. You’ll certainly be busy with this for some time already!
Of course we can’t finish this review with talking about the graphics or Yoda. The first are no doubt beautiful with excellent animations and models, while our favorite green guy is a very fun addition to the lineup of characters. The makers also did their best to add a special Star Wars arena, balance the use of The Force and treat everything with a wink.
If you’ve ever wondered whether fight games are for you, then you should certainly try this one out. Even if in the end you don’t have fun with the great gameplay, then there’s still Yoda (or Darth Vader in the PS3 version) and the excellent volumes of boobs that have some great physics applied to them. Everything a healthy young man longs for!