Waiting for Soulcalibur IV: Who’s In, Who’s Not

As we count the days to the release of Soulcalibur IV, let me review the stuff we know, stuff we don’t know, stuff we think we know and stuff we wish we could have said ‘no’ to. Hey, I’m bored so sue me.

Who’s In, Who’s Not In. So far, almost everyone who was in Soulcalibur III is back and looking sharper than ever before. You’ve got veterans from the original Soul Edge/Blade like Mitsurugi, Sophitia, Taki, Voldo, Siegfried, Seung Mina, Cervantes, Nightmare and Rock; Soul Calibur II alum Ivy, Xianghua, Kilik, Yoshimitsu, Yun Seoung, Astoroth, Talim and Raphael; Soul Calibur’s three newcomers, Zasalamel, Setsuka (now blonde and buffer) and Tira (more crazy-looking and redder) are back as well. Old faces who didn’t make the cut so far are Li Long (who may or may not be dead), Hwang (who’s been succeeded by Yun Seoung anyway), oldies like Edge Master and Olcadan, past bosses like Inferno and Charade, and anyone from SCIII’s Chronicles of the Sword, extra CAS-based characters and the Equipment Shop staff.

Totally new for Soulcalibur IV is Hilde– a fully armored/dressed noblewoman and knight who wields a spear and shortsword combo. Also making their debut but not considered canon to the series and story are several ‘Bonus’ characters- fighters designed and contributed by some of Japan’s famous manga writers/artists. These include the elf-like Scheherazade, the robotic Ashlotte, the witch Angol Fear and the dangerous-looking Shura with her leather chaps and multiple katana.

Bringing up the rear are the ‘Guest’ characters- special challengers culled from a Galaxy Far, Far Way. Yep, here in comes Star Wars’ own Darth Vader for the PS3 and Yoda for the Xbox360. As a way of giving players at least a way of having two lightsabers cross outside of a mirror match, the Secret Apprentice AKA Starkiller from the upcoming game The Force Unleashed is a guest in both console versions.

That’s a big cast. But of course, not everyone’s happy with the lineup.

Hilde, I think, is awesome. While I was initially at odds with her odd fighting style, I eventually grew to like the idea of having long and short-range repertoires complementing each other. The fact that she is also, in appearance at least, a polar opposite of most of the other ladies in the game is a refreshing aspect of her as well. But frankly, that only makes it all the more enticing to get her out of her armor and into something less bulky- okay, LESS, period- on my second playthrough with her. Heheh…

The Star Wars characters, for example, probably cut the gaming community into two camps- those who went “WHOA!” then “YEAH!” went into one camp, while those who yelled “WTF!!!” fell into the opposite side. Me? I’m squarely in the middle. I think the idea’s wild, but I’ll wait till I see how they actually present WHY Jedi are in the Calibur-verse before I give a final judgement. In any case, Darth and Yoda shouldn’t be game-breaking, and if you don’t want to use them- DON’T. My biggest gripe with them is that I feel the Soulcalibur world and characters are somewhat diminished by their presence, and Namco’s apparent decision that they need to bring in some clout just for added flash.

As for the Bonus Characters- they seem to fit in with the general vibe of the world setting, though Scheherazade seems more at home in a Japanese RPG. Shura looks like she’s Taki’s evil, non-ninja sister, while Ashlotte is offbeat and uniquely creepy and cute. My only worry for them though is that they may each be just skins of already-existing fighters; Ashlotte may be a Seung Mina skin and Shura just Cervantes with a sex change. I really hope they have their own unique style, attacks and animations, aside from just having a cool backstory or what not.

Meh, what the heck… if you don’t like any of the gang, you can just throw them all into the gutter and make your own Souls with the excellent-looking CAS. Or not. Anyway, we certainly have a ton of stories in this eternally-retold tale… it should make for some long hours of slashing action and enjoyment come late July. Later then!


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