Soulcalibur has been around for awhile, but I didn’t really get to play the initial iterations more than a few times here and there. Some friends had it, and I would play when I came over to watch the NFL on Sundays, but it was never a series I owned. However, the hype about Soulcalibur IV kept increasing as it came closer to release date, and I was in the mood for a fighting game at the time, so I picked it up on its first day out. This also happened to be one of my first Playstation 3 games. I picked it up on the Playstation 3 for a couple of reasons – my library of games for the PS 3 has always lacked compared to my Wii and Xbox 360, and the PS 3 version had Darth Vader and the Xbox 360 had Yoda. The idea of being a large Sith warrior won out over a green puppet in my mind, so PS 3 it was.
Graphics – 8.5:
This game has excellent graphics, and even though the game has been out for over a year now, they hold up quit well against any of the more recent fighting games to come out as well. Characters are fluid and detailed, with a wide variety of animations that compliment the weapon and fighting styles very nicely. The frame rate holds up well, even during the most heated exchanges. I also found most of the backgrounds to be quite nice. Some are more animated than others, but overall they are very well done and fit the themes of the game. The cut scenes also deserve a nod. They are not the best I have ever seen, but they look better than most games.
Sound & music – 8:
The voices sound good and appropriate for the characters, and the music is good overall, with a couple of levels standing out as excellent. The appropriate sounds for strikes and moves are all there, though the game does sometimes sound a bit repetitive but this is a common trait with just about every fighting game. You get that sound of a character screaming for one attack, or the sound of a staff swinging and you tend to hear it over and over again. The announcer’s voiceover kind of cracks me up with its overly serious tone. Nothing wrong with it – it just makes me chuckle now and then.
Gameplay – 8:
Fighting games are made or lost right here. You have to feel that the controls are responsive due to how fast-paced the action is, but you need more than a few combinations to help keep things diverse. Some games you can button mash through, and this is one of those. There is nothing inherently wrong with this – it makes the game more accessible to a larger number of people. Compared to a game like Street Fighter IV though, where precision is everything and button mashing is sure to get you killed, Soulcalibur does feel a bit easier and an inexperienced player is more likely to get a lucky win in with this sort of control scheme. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind. I played quite a bit online and overall I found that the game handled pretty decently most of the time, though it could sometimes take forever to find a match, and then they had a tendency to be over very quickly.
Intangibles – 9:
The game has a huge roster of characters. If that is not enough for you, there is a character editor/creation screen with a fair number of unlockables as well. I am a big fan of character customization, so this appealed to me quite a bit. There are several modes as well between arcade, storyline, online and the tower modes (one is an endurance test and the other a collection of preconfigured conflicts that have unlockable content for meeting certain criteria). I think that out of my PS 3 games, Soulcalibur IV is my most heavily played.
Overall – 8.4:
I do not have any particular nostalgia over this series – this is the first of the Soulcalibur games I have owned to date. However, the wide assortment of characters and considerable replay value has made it arguably my favorite Playstation 3 game to date. The inclusion of Star Wars characters was odd, and the storylines make very little sense, but generally you get a game like this for the fighting content, and there is plenty to be had in Soulcalibur IV. It is rated as Teen, so it is recommended for people thirteen and older. There is a good deal of violence and a couple of women who seem to have misplaced the majority of their outfits, but I do not recall any gore or swearing (though the ESRB did flag it for mild language) so keep those factors in mind if you are considering this game for a child. Considering that the game has been out for over a year now, it can probably be acquired used pretty reasonably as well.
Hopefully you liked this first review. In the future, the videos will likely be smaller, but a bit less blurry as well, and the images if clicked on will show at a full size if you want a closer look at them.