Soul Calibur 4

This year has seen many games take the leap into next gen. I, for one, am very pleased about this. If you had asked me no more than a year or two ago (specifically before the release of the PS3) what I thought of “next gen” and the super detailed graphics of modern games, I would have scoffed and said it was totally irrelevant to the game. I would have said I didn’t care about how the game looked, so long as it played well. A couple of years and a Sony PS3 investment later I now can’t help but feel any new game release that isn’t jaw-droppingly beautiful just isn’t pulling its weight (call me a sell out if you really must!). One such beautiful game is Namco’s latest in the Soul Calibur/Soul Blade series, Soul Calibur 4.

I have always been a fan of the beat-em-up genre, and have been known on more than one occasion to lose myself entirely in such games for extended periods of time. The last one was Tekken Dark Resurrection, whose stunning graphics and brilliant gameplay left me aching for more. I’d managed to ween myself off fighters for a while, but after recently attending Battle of Destiny with the Ready-Up team, I felt that need to gain thumb welts again, and not a minute too soon either, as Soul Calibur 4 was just around the corner…

For those of you who haven’t played any of the series, Soul Calibur is about two swords. The Soul Edge, and the Soul Calibur. The Soul Edge is evil, and the Soul Calibur is good. You, the player, get to make the choice as to whether you play as a nice guy or a bad guy. Me being the stereotypical ex-goffic I tend to pick evil, specifically this time, I chose to play through with Tira.


Tira is completely awesome. Seriously. Aside from the squeaky voice...


You have the 4 usual modes (Story, Arcade, Training and Museum) and one new mode – Tower of Lost Souls.

I’ll start with the story mode as it was the first thing I sunk my teeth into. First off, let me get this out of the way, it was too short. Not necessarily a criticism, as it was great fun, but I ended up finding myself playing through it a few times with different characters (more on this later) because I didn’t feel fulfilled from a single play through. The characters are very well rounded at this point, each of their stories are well described and very detailed.

Each stage is relatively easy, up until you have your first encounter with one of the guest characters and then all of a sudden the difficulty curve soars upwards. Yes, I’m talking about the Apprentice. This guy is hard as nails, once he’s got you down, that’s it. You’re stuffed! My poor boyfriend could hear me cursing from the street outside the flat (we live on the top floor of a town house, and all the windows were shut!), which is generally a good sign so long as I have plenty of soft things to throw my controller at. I was stuck on the Apprentice for a good half hour before I advanced beyond him and I loved this. One of the things I always enjoyed about Soul Calibur was that you can’t button bash through, and the Apprentice is a perfect example as to why. You need to learn your moves, your counters, and all your character’s little tricks to advance. I think this is an absolutely brilliant thing, and really gives you a sense of achievement once you’ve mastered a specific character!

I ended up playing through Story mode with two returning characters, and one new character. First I used Tira, then Ivy. My only little niggle was that some of the combos I had remembered from previous Soul Calibur games were now taunts, so I got myself thoroughly thrashed quite a bit until I had learnt the combos again! I also played through with a new character, Hilde. Hilde is a 5’3”, 110 lb, sword and lance wielding woman in full body armour. Yes, you heard me right. A female character in FULL BODY ARMOUR. Please do not underestimate how utterly awesome I think this is. Fear not though! For the first time ever armour is now destructible, and you can master moves to destroy your opponents armour to your advantage. Adding yet another thoroughly enjoyable element to combat.


Hilde is my new heroine. Check that sassy full body armor!


After I had completed Story Mode I decided to give the new mode “Tower of Lost Souls” a try. After my first few hours I came to realise why the story is so short – this mode gets you in for the long haul. The good part of this is that you are forced to use more than one character for this, so if you haven’t yet played as your console’s exclusive bonus character (for me, this was Vader as I’m playing the PS3 version; 360 has Yoda) now is the best time to have a shot. The Tower of Lost Souls is a 60 level mode, where you initially have to ascend the tower, but upon completion of your ascension, you can choose to descend. The idea is to see how far up or down you can get, but the bulk of the unlockables are found in this mode. I’ve not as yet made it all the way up the tower, this mode is challenging, but great fun. The new “Soul Gauge” and Critical Finish moves mean you don’t very often get matches that last until time up, as if you have fully depleted your opponent’s Soul Gauge, you can press all four buttons on your pad to do a unique critical finishing move.

I thoroughly recommend you play through with many of the characters, old and new. The older ones have new moves to their repertoire, and the new are very solid and imaginative. Vader is hard to master, as is the Apprentice but they are both very good characters who offer a wonderful range of moves and styles. Not to mention Vader is awesome. But we knew this already right?


Call me wrong if you must, but I just can\'t resist that \


SCIV also sees a return of Character Creation, only now it feels more complete, and gives you more options than you know what to do with! You can fine-tune your character right down to the pitch of their voice and no matter what I seem to create they come out every bit as good as the pre-set characters. As if this wasn’t enough, you can take your custom character online in “Special Versus” and battle against online opponents own custom characters. This is brilliant fun, and there is a real mixed bag of opponents out there. So don’t worry if you’re new to Soul Calibur, there are plenty of new players about! You can also play Standard Versus online, using the original characters, but personally I found it much more fun to see what people were making!

I am very impressed with Soul Calibur 4. It’s graphically stunning, the characters are wonderfully detailed and imaginative, and all the new features have meant that I have plenty to be mastering and getting on with! I urge anyone who has been hesitant to purchase to grab yourself a copy, it’s great fun, but I don’t recommend playing late at night, or you may wake your neighbours with frustrated gamer rage.








8 responses to “Soul Calibur 4”

  1. Shaz avatar

    Nice review 🙂
    Yeah the character creation is a lot better than SCIII!

  2. Kirsten avatar

    I’ve never spend as long playing a fighter as I have this game. I love the character creation and unlocking stuff. Don’t want to be a girly about it but for me Soul Calibur 4 is about slapping people in the chops till I unlock new shoes and then running off to try them on.

  3. arc14716 avatar

    I’ve been thinking about picking up this game. Thanks for the review.

  4. Michael avatar

    Is this quite technical like Virtua Fighter? Or can a noob – like, say, me – fare OK while trying to master combos and stuff?

  5. Ruku avatar

    Nice review Alex! In regards to the X360 version, Yoda’s not too bad of a character to play as. He’s a tad broken in places, but nothing too majorly bad.

    Most definitely would have preferred Vader though, heh.

  6. Alex avatar

    Oh yeah, I’d definately say anyone can play. I’m rubbish at Virtua Fighter so if I can do it i’m sure you can ;D
    I am really loving the character creation, probably a little bit too much. Especially mucking about with their voices, great fun!

  7. Michael avatar

    OK, cool. Hmm, I wonder if I could make a fighter with Brian Blessed’s voice… 😉

  8. Apple The new iPad avatar
    Apple The new iPad

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