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Soul Calibur 4

Developer: Namco Bandai | Publisher: Namco Bandai
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Genre: Fighting

Release Date: 07/29/08

Namco Bandai’s popular fighting series is set to make its debut on current generation hardware at the end of this month. With the release getting so close, we figured it was time to take an in-depth look at the game and show you just why this entry in the series promises to be another blockbuster.

The Soul Calibur series is one of gaming’s most celebrated fighting franchises. The unique weapons-based combat, solid fighting engine and stunning visuals have hooked many fighting enthusiasts and simply never let go. This time around, all of that looks to be perfectly in tact. That alone would likely have been enough to get fans excited about Soul Calibur IV, but the developers were not content with just releasing a prettier version of the last game. Instead they worked tirelessly to squeeze the most out of the Xbox 360 hardware and packed in new game modes that will make this title the most feature-packed fighter on the market.

The single, most notable thing that will make Soul Calibur IV different from the previous games in the series is the addition of online play. Fans of Tecmo’s Dead or Alive series know exactly how much an online mode can add to a fighting game. SC IV will allow players to battle it out in both ranked and unranked matches. It will also feature a leaderboard so the best of the best can compete for that coveted top spot. If you’re a new comer to the series, competing online may sound a bit intimidating, but don’t fret as the developers have devised a matchmaking system that will ensure players are grouped with opponents of similar skill level.

Veterans of the series will be happy to know that the core gameplay is still very much alive, but the developers have added small nuances to mix things up a bit. For instance, turtles will find themselves getting whacked fairly quickly when they try to shell up and just block incoming attacks. As a player blocks attacks they will gradually start to fall back; land enough solid hits and you can send them sprawling giving yourself the chance to score a devastating blow. Players that take a beating will show this physically as clothing and armor will be torn and broken apart (poor Ivy) during the course of a match. If you find your threads aren’t exactly up to your high standards, you will be able to purchase additional costumes online or unlock them by playing through the game which may take you quite some time as SC IV features more than 30 combatants.

A large portion of the characters in the game are returning favorites including Ivy, Taki, Kilik and others. Joining this all star cast are several fresh faces such as Hilde, a knight who wields a short sword and a long spear and the new boss Algol who is supposedly the most powerful character in the entire series. Algol can fight with both legendary swords Soul Edge and Soul Calibur. Perhaps the most popular addition to the game is the Xbox 360 exclusive Yoda of Star Wars fame. The great Jedi will be available as a special character on the console and fights using his trademark green lightsaber along with an arsenal of highly acrobatic maneuvers. Another character is “the secret apprentice” from the upcoming Star Wars: Force Unleashed game. It may seem odd to see the Star Wars characters in a Soul Calibur game, but it actually meshes really well. Yoda will undoubtedly be one of the most popular characters when the game is released.

With all of these amazing additions and the beefed up visuals, Soul Calibur IV may very well be the best game in franchise history. That’s saying quite a bit given the success of the previous games, but everything just looks to have come together perfectly and with no glaring flaws or glitches, it seems like a good bet. Either way, we’ll find out soon enough; expect the game on retail shelves before the end of the month.

By Ryan Schaefer - 07/15/08
ESRB Details: Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence
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Screenshots for Soul Calibur 4

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