Soulcalibur IV (Xbox 360) review
"Namco’s mistakes have been remedied: fewer exploits, the removal of the somewhat pointless Soul Charge technique and slightly slower gameplay – seemingly small changes, but ones that nonetheless make for a smoother, more refined combat system."
There comes a time in every fighting game series’ life when things just aren’t as exciting as they used to be. Though it galvanized the genre with its first release, Soulcalibur proved to be no exception with its wretched third outing which not only offered no innovation, but actually made the combat less enjoyable than prior installments. Namco ventured back to the drawing board for nearly three years and now returns with Soulcalibur IV, which is the strongest entry the series has ever seen.
Shifting to this fourth Calibur meant cleaning up the mess that Soulcalibur III left – no easy task. Thankfully, Namco’s mistakes have been remedied: fewer exploits, the removal of the somewhat pointless Soul Charge technique and slightly slower gameplay – seemingly small changes, but ones that nonetheless make for a smoother, more refined combat system. Namco has also thrown in a few new nuances for good measure, the most obvious of which is armor that can be destroyed after taking enough hits, resulting in an opponent more susceptible to damage. SC IV also introduces over-the-top instant kill moves known as Critical Finishes which can be used when you’ve landed enough strikes on a blocking opponent. This attack was implemented as a way to keep players on the offensive, though it doesn’t amount to much as you’ll rarely be able to use the move in practice. If you’re afraid of the formula being mucked with too much, though, worry not -- this is still Soulcalibur. Neophytes can still pick the game up and mash out a few cool-looking combos from the get-go, and veterans will still find a fighter with all the intricacies they’ve come to expect -- it’s just a bit dolled up now.
Freelance review by C J (September 01, 2008)
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