Soul Calibur IV – Challenging and Creative Action that Lasts

The first fighting game I really ever got hooked on was Soul Calibur II – I bought it for my teenage daughter to go along with the then brand new X-BOX gaming system. When she opened her new system and game on Christmas day – she was begging for someone to play along with her. Dad opted out (he has trouble operating throwaway cameras, let alone quickly executing a series of combos for different characters), so I thought I’d tolerate it for a little while so that she wouldn’t be disappointed.

Long after she had gone to sleep – I was still trying to learn each character’s moves and was hooked on the whole dark/light storyline. Fast forward to a couple months ago, and everyone in the family was anxiously awaiting the new Soul Calibur IV. We checked out the screenshots online months ahead of the summer release date, so we already knew that the graphics and costumes were going to be sharp and breathtaking with excellent new stages to explore. The added excitement of the Star Wars characters being included helped increase our anxiousness – although there was the initial let down of not being able to get the Darth Vader character unless you own a Playstation 3.

Finally the day arrived and we were into it immediately. There are several things that I like about this game. If you have even the most basic of video gaming savvy – you can immediately jump into it and enjoy it right away. On the other hand, if you are an uber-seasoned player – as my fiance is – you can also get completely wrapped up in it. I should mention that he is not a big fan of the previous Soul Calibur editions, being more of a Mortal Kombat kinda guy, but this one really does it for him. The character creation feature in this version really rocks – you have many, many options and can create your little heart out and have a lot of fun. Although my fiance did enjoy this aspect as well, I see it as being more of a major draw for us girls: we do love us some fashion styling. Finally, all of your favorite characters are back with a few new ones added, there is a lot of variety in play options, and of course there is the X-BOX live option to pit your character creations against all of your online fighting buddies.

As always, it is not a perfect universe, so there are a few little things that could be better with this game. There is the aforementioned lack of Darth Vader in the 360 version, the layering is still evident in a few places, and some of the storylines are a little weak. My biggest frustration overall is that unless every family member buys their own 360, or all go online together, my Spanky Joe doesn’t get to face off with my fiance’s Incredible Hulk. I guess I could create my same character’s over again on his profile and get them to a level 9 – but really – I’d like to at least get some sleep on occasion.

Now that the big rush is over on this title and publisher’s are starting push their holiday season titles; you should start to see this game go down a few dollars or also find used copies. If you were unsure whether you had already had enough of Soul Calibur or weren’t sure based on previous versions of this game if it would be worth it; give it a try. If you like fighting games at all, this is a worthy addition to your collection.