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Soulcalibur IV

Soulcalibur IV

Soulcalibur IV

Soulcalibur IV is the fifth installment in Namco's Soul series of fighting games, released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2008. Soulcalibur IV included three characters from the Star Wars franchise as playable fighters.

Soulcalibur IV Plot

The story of Soulcalibur IV; told via in-game written profiles and movies, centers around the appearance of the ancient king Algol, his tower, and his connection to the origin of the spirit sword named Soulcalibur. Every character's motivation and relationship to the other characters is diagrammed in a mode called "Chain of Souls." As usual, none of the individual endings from the previous game are considered canonical events, and most of the characters' motivations from that game remain unresolved, however a few characters did experience important events associated with universal Soulcalibur III events. Siegfried has died and been resurrected by the Soulcalibur sword. Sophitia's daughter Pyrrha has been kidnapped by Tira and "malfested" by Soul Edge, leaving Sophitia to fight for the side of evil in defense of her now-corrupted daughter. Tira is now suffering from a split-personality disorder. Most characters are still motivated by a desire to either obtain, destroy, or defend one or both of the legendary swords now carried by Siegfried and Nightmare, and most characters face Algol as the final boss of Story Mode. All characters feature animated ending movies.

Soulcalibur IV Gameplay

Soulcalibur IV features the Story, Arcade, Training and Museum modes. A new mode called Tower of Lost Souls requires the player to win battles in order to gain rewards.

Character Creation from Soulcalibur III returns in Soulcalibur IV. Instead of including original weapon styles for use with certain classes of fighters, Soulcalibur IV now only allows players to choose which character from the series they would like to have their created character mimic. This differs from Soulcalibur III which had many unique styles such as "Grieve Edge". Algol, the bonus characters and the Star Wars guest characters cannot have their styles used by player created characters. A wide array of new pieces of equipment are available for use in Soulcalibur IV's Character Creation mode, and new options include a wider range of character voices and the ability to change their pitch. The player may also change a character's general physique and muscularity.

In addition, equipped items now also affect a character's statistics. Armor, weapons, and accessories may increase health, attack or defense; they may also grant skill points that allow the character to equip special traits that affect the character's playstyle. These traits range from automatically triggered guard impacts, the ability to cause damage against a blocking opponent, or even a stat increase based on parameters such as an opponent's alignment or gender. Standard characters are also able to be modified in this way to a modest degree, allowing custom costumes and skill sets to be used in Special VS. mode. Custom characters can still be used in Standard VS. mode, but without any of the special abilities gained through equipment or weapon choice. One profile is allowed for offline versus mode, meaning that only one profile's created characters can be loaded at a time.

Multi-fighter battles in Soulcalibur IV use a different structure from its predecessors, nicknamed Active Matching Battle (AMB). Similar to the tag system of games such as The King of Fighters 2003, the AMB system allows players to switch to other members of a 'party' of fighters mid battle. Instead of starting a new round for each opponent defeated, new opponents simply run into the battle immediately after a K.O. - with the exception of certain combatants. Matches utilizing the AMB system only appear in the Story and Tower of Lost Souls modes.

Soulcalibur IV features an all-new Critical Finish system. Next to a player's Health Meter is a colored gem that represents the "Soul Gauge". The gem changes color when the player blocks an attack or has his or her own attack blocked by a Guard Impact. The color gradually changes from blue to green and eventually to red and then flashing red. The player's own Soul Gauge regenerates if he or she makes an attack and hits the opponent (guarding or otherwise). If the character manages to empty out the opponent's Soul Gauge, the enemy get Soul Crushed, destroying a piece of armor (characters now show permanent signs of visual damage such as broken and torn clothing) and producing a short stun during which the character can perform a powerful Critical Finish move, which is able to defeat the opponent instantly, by pressing all four face buttons at the same time. Each character has his or her own personal Critical Finish move. Namco says that it developed the Soul Gauge to decrease the benefits from constant guarding, thus giving the game a faster tempo and making the matches more offensive.

The Star Wars guest characters - Darth Vader, Yoda and the Apprentice - utilize unique attacks using the Force. Darth Vader is able to utilize Force-based blasts, punches, and chokes, Yoda can use the Force to launch himself into the air for complex aerial attacks, and the Apprentice is able to use Force lightning and other dark-side moves. These moves drain a special Force Meter, which recharges gradually when not in use. If the Force Meter is depleted, the player loses control of the character momentarily.

For the first time in the series, Soulcalibur IV has the option to fight against other players online. Versus modes available in online battles are Standard VS (for classic matches) and "Special VS" (for customized characters). Created characters are playable in the online multiplayer mode. A player's wins and losses are recorded and used to establish a ranking level, which reflects online skill.

Soulcalibur IV has received mainly positive reviews from most media outlets. The game was praised for its graphics, character-creation mode and its long-awaited online play capability. Reviewers also noted that the gameplay is accessible for newcomers and beginners but still has plenty of depth and technicality for veterans and experienced players, including an abundance of single player challenges in Tower of Lost Souls mode.

Certain criticisms were directed towards the guest characters from the Star Wars franchise, with several critics maintaining that their presence was unnatural and that Yoda and The Apprentice in particular were "broken" (a reference to a perceived imbalance in fighting games that gives some characters a vastly unfair advantage over other characters in gameplay) and "absurd", respectively. Yoda's smaller size (and thus his immunity to grab attacks) is mentioned as one such design problem. At the same time, Yoda's short range and low damage output is also problematic, making him both overpowered and underpowered at the same time.

As of March 31, 2009, the game has sold 2.3 million worldwide.

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