The Long Wait Begins: Previewing Soulcalibur IV

Who the heck is this?

Soulcalibur IV is my future fighting game of choice. I’ve loved this series since the original, but the previous installment on PS2 put my love for the series through the roof. The development team, Project Soul, have proven themselves to be more dynamic and forward than their brethren over at the Tekken team, what with stuffing Soul Calibur III with goodies like Create-a-Soul (Character Creation), cool minigames aplenty and even a sorta-kinda RTS hybrid in Chronicles of the Sword.

Okay, Chronicles wasn’t exactly the best thing in SCIII, but I think it was far better than stuff like Tekken Bowling or that Devil Within minigame. And where Tekken 5 Dark Resurrection just let you tweak color palettes or switch hairstyles, SCIII let you create your own Samurai Dancing Bikini Girls. I rest my case.

Aaaaaanyway. Soulcalibur IV looks to have graphics that seem, from the so-far-released screens and art, at least as good as Virtua Fighter 5 (so far my benchmark for graphical finery in Now-Gen fighting games). The detail and substance is close, though VF5 still nails the lighting and ‘solid’ feel of the characters and world. But then again, we haven’t seen that much of SCIV yet. There’s still a ways to go. Still, VF5’s been out a couple of years and is STILL the graphic king. You have to give Sega credit. Well, Soulcalibur IV will supposedly have graphics so detailed, characters’ bodies will actually get indented in real time due to their costumes, and actual features like a character’s nipples are supposedly individually rendered underneath the cloth. Sounds like hokum to me, but whatever. The proof is in the looking. Bottom line is, SCIV should look awesome. If it looks even half as great as VF5, I’ll be happy. If it lives up to the devs boasts, I’ll be giving out cigars.
Aside from looks, SCIV will reportedly have cool features and modes up the wazoo once again, just like the previous game. Create-a-Soul will return, more improved with more options and customization options, such as more choices for voices and items or clothing choices that will actually have an effect on gameplay.

As for the established cast of blade-wielding maniacs, SCIV will reportedly see most (if not all) of the faces from SCIII at least return, with some, like Tira (the razor hula hoop-wielding psycho-kitten) having a drastic fashion makeover. The developers though seem to have decided to keep quiet on any new additions, at least until the release date comes closer. There HAS been sighting (in the new E3 trailer) of a previously-unseen fighter mixing it up with the other fighters; a female warrior dressed from head-to-toe in plate armor, wielding an unusual dual-wield combo of spear and shortsword. My take is that this female knight may be a CAS (Create-a-Soul) Character, and not really an actual addition to the fighter lineup. Only time, and Project Soul, will tell.

Other little tidbits- SCIV will fix up the gameplay that many hardcore fans have complained got broken in SCIII (Characters like Xianghua and Sophitia, as well as many of the CAS classes, were seen as overpowered). Also, there will supposedly be a ‘new way to finish a round’, which does not involve depleting your opponent’s life bar or a ring out. My take? Perhaps a Disarm move. Or an ‘Instant Kill’ maneuver you charge up by hitting the enemy with a set number of buildup moves a set number of times. The segment in the SCIV trailer where Siegfried is shown delivering a massive overhead blow at a stunned Tira may be a demonstration of this.

According to the trailer and teaser, the saga of Soulcalibur will come to a head in SCIV. The holy sword Soul Calibur (wielded by Siegfried) and the evil sword Soul Edge (wielded by Nightmare) have given their users massive power, and it will result in a Mother-of-all-Slashfests among the fighters involved in this war of swords. Will it be the final SC? Not as long as the franchise sells, I’d say. In any case, this upcoming Slash ’em up looks to be awesome when it comes out on the PS3 and Xbox360 sometime in 2008.


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