The basic premise for Soul Calibur IV
is a little ridiculous, but every game in the series has been and it is nice to see it embrace it so fully. Taking place somewhere around the 1500's, Soul Calibur IV
is a tale of two magical swords that wield absolute power. One serves the justice of the good, while the other drains life and corrupts for evil. Fighters from all over the world (and a few from a galaxy far, far away) travel and fight to put an end to the curse of the two swords. Soul Calibur IV
is a full 3-D weapon-based fighter. That means that each character has a unique weapon along with a corresponding fighting style. Most of the fun comes from discovering new moves and skills to destroy the opponent.
The basic gameplay modes include a Story, Arcade, and Training mode for single player and two different versus modes for multiplayer action. The Story mode is a little on the short side with only five matches for every story. But with more than twenty characters, there is plenty to sink into. The Arcade mode is the most traditional mode and like the namesake implies, it plays just like it would at the arcade. There are seven regular stages and the final boss stage to make it feel like it used to. This is also the first time that Soul Calibur has taken its action online, and it is really impressive for a first attempt.
The online play is overall very pleasant, but there are times where connection issues make the game unplayable. Different characters require different timing and internet lag sometimes intrudes and costs the match. When it works, it works wonderfully. They even allow the new characters and custom characters to be taken online which makes fooling around with joke characters even more fun.
Soul Calibur is also known for including guest characters from time to time in their games and Soul Calibur IV introduces a few Star Wars characters to a proper fighting game. The PlayStation 3 received Darth Vader and his Apprentice as the guest characters, while the Xbox 360 got Yoda (Don't worry too much; there is still room for DLC) and Vader's Apprentice. While the guest characters don't break any balance issues, the fact that they can use force powers seems a little unfair at first. Other than those two, there are surprisingly few additions to the cast. Hildegard and Algol are the only two real additions to the cast, but everyone else has had some tinkering to make them feel new and fresh all over again. There are also five new "Special" characters that were designed by some prominent anime artists, but they are just palette swaps for other stable characters. The stories that were created for each Special character actually fit better in the universe than some of the other mainstays, which seems a tad odd. But all in all, there are around nine new characters to look at and play around with in Soul Calibur IV. The custom character creator also returns and allows for more depth than ever to make a warrior that is catered to how you fight.