CES '08: Soulcalibur IV Hands-On

Namco shows off playable Soulcalibur IV in Vegas and announces some sci-fi guests for the fighter's roster.

LAS VEGAS--At CES, Namco showed off a playable demo of Soulcalibur IV and announced some surprising guest characters for the game's roster of combatants. We got our first look at the multiplatform fighter in motion earlier this year at the Tokyo Game Show but hadn't had the chance to try it until today. However, news of the playable demo was nearly overshadowed by the announcement that Namco and LucasArts have teamed up, with the result that Darth Vader and Yoda will appear as console-exclusive playable characters.

The news that Darth Vader would be exclusive to the PlayStation 3 version of the game and that Yoda would be exclusive to the Xbox 360 game was a surprise but was not unexpected given the franchise's history. Soul Calibur II set the precedent with three console-exclusive characters back in the day: Heihachi from Tekken appeared in the PS2 game, Link from The Legend of Zelda appeared in the GameCube game, and Spawn of comic and cartoon fame appeared in the Xbox game. The Star Wars cameos are a bit left field but, given that Darth and the Y-man are packing light sabers, not too big a stretch. While neither character was playable, we were able to catch a glimpse of them in motion in a trailer that announced their inclusion in the game. We expect Internet debate to kick up a bit over the hidden meaning of what each console's exclusive character has to say. The only thing we're sure of is that the pair will most certainly play better than the original PlayStation's Masters of Teras Kasi fighting debacle, considering the Soulcalibur team's experience.

Sadly, neither character was playable in the Xbox 360 demo on display at the event, so we'll have to reserve judgment on how they fit into the action. However, we were able to try out three characters--Mitsurugi, Taki, and Cassandra--in two different backgrounds. Namco reps on hand were quick to point out that the demo was roughly 50 percent of what the game will offer, and next to none of the new additions to the system were present. So there were no finishing moves, stage interactivity, or new character attacks. Instead, the demo offered a modest taste of basic combat and the visual upgrade the game is getting on the PS3 and 360.

The combat in the demo felt familiar because the game will use the same button layout as before and will feature an array of strikes, a kick, and a block, with combos and special attacks when you mix up button and direction combinations. The three characters handled as they have in previous versions, with Mitsurugi kicking much butt with his sword and powerful moves, Taki tearing foes up with lightning-fast attacks, and Cassandra offering a more balanced attack style. The two environments were basically outdoor areas in two different settings. One had us fighting in a Grecian locale that featured columns and stone statues, which had us thinking it was a stage for Cassandra or her big sister, Sophitia. The second arena was bordered by a lush rainforest on one side and a vast river heading off to nowhere. Both locales had a decent amount of space to move around in, with some ring-out hazards, but they didn't do much outside of look pretty. The arena by the river showcased the best hippo modeling and animation this side of Sony's Africa--when that hippo yawned we were totally feeling it.

Hey, they got Star Wars in my Soul Cali...oh forget it.

While the fighting system was solid as ever and did give us an idea of how the final game is going to wind up, the visuals stood out a bit more because of the bump the game is getting over its predecessors. The three fighters were looking good, although the game's incomplete state was obvious in a few spots. In general, the fighter models look great and benefit from the extra polygons being thrown their way. Detail on all the fighters is up (although some of the scarring on Mitsurugi is still being worked on), and their clothing contains a number of different animated elements that move convincingly in battle. Of the two females, Taki is the current lady on the roster testing the limits of gravity with her ginormous and independently bouncing breasts. At present, the speedy fighter is bounce-tastic and tremendously lucky to not knock herself out during her more athletic combos. By contrast, Cassandra's bounce factor is considerably lower thanks to her outfit's corset-like style. Fortunately, the physics madness has missed Mitsurugi for the moment, although we're a little worried about what this might mean for Voldo (but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it).

Based on what we've seen, Soulcalibur IV seems headed in the right direction. The combat system feels solid and should be a good foundation for the team to build on. The visuals are shaping up nicely, and the team is clearly having some fun with all the added processing power and polygons afforded by the new hardware. We're eager to see the various new additions come into focus, especially the character customization and online play and how the Star Wars characters get balanced along with the rest of the crew. Fans of the series should be pleased by what's coming, and newcomers to the series should consider checking in on this latest entry if they've never tried it, since it doesn't appear that this generation of consoles will be having an overabundance of 3D fighters. Look for more on Soulcalibur IV as it becomes available.

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Discussion

365 comments
Duo12489
Duo12489

i hope talim is still playable

FFadikt
FFadikt

darth vader and yoda were really unexpected, but its kind of cool

optimusprime18
optimusprime18

I wanna play as darth vader so bad. hes the perfect character for the system. The PS3 looks just like Vader

Testament
Testament

Dang, i just knew for sure Kratos (God of War) would have been a sony PS3 exclusive character. Oh well guess i'll have to wait for part V:(

Kez1984
Kez1984

I awesome it will be anime type females wearing very little? How original.

danwarecritic
danwarecritic

I have an idea of something to compete with Smash Bros. How do you guys think a crossover fighter with characters from Tekken and Soulcalibur? ui just kinda got the idea from all the crossover games on the market. Super Smash Bros., NeoGeo Battle Colosseum, King of Fighters, Snk Vs. Capcom, SEGA Superstars Tennis, Warriors Orochi, and Crash Purple/Spyro Orange to name a few.

danwarecritic
danwarecritic

Who all is in this game so far? I've seen Ivy, Mitsurugi, Tira, Siegfried, Nightmare, Hilde, Darth Vadar(PS3 exclusive), Yoda(Xbox 360 exclusive), Cassandra, Xianghua, Sophitia, Taki, Zasselamel, Kilik, Maxi, Raphael, and Amy. I have a list of my favorite characters. 1: Xianghua 2: Cassandra 3: Tira 4: Talim That pretty much sums it up. I really hope they show Talim in this game. And also what happened to Necrid and Charade? Neither appaered in Soulcalibur III for some reason.

rybread13
rybread13

im pretty sure they said the fighting was the same lamepunk. look up.

lamepunk
lamepunk

Previous Soulcalibers really were not that great, but I heard it will be more like an rpg this time so it looks like it will be cooler. It will be cool to play as Darth Vader too. I just hope the fighting is a lot different and cooler. Whether this game will be good or not though, we'll just have to wait and see.

War-Tex
War-Tex

I remember how awesome the graphics were in the previous Soul Calibur games... I just cant wait for it... "Taki is the current lady on the roster testing the limits of gravity with her ginormous and independently bouncing breasts." - LMAO!

Aries03
Aries03

this is going to be a great game when it comes out and to put yoda and darth vader in the game is a great idea.... Cant wait for this game... :)

KuroiSLI
KuroiSLI

Sweet! I can't wait! Will be purchasing the Darth Vader version :)

Iam_sparticus
Iam_sparticus

Yeah i think PS3 got a coup there with the Darth Vader addition, this game is looking really sweet, so can't wait for that release!

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

ok im over the whole sw thing...i just want to know which other characters are gonna be added as well

Rachaet
Rachaet

I have a 360 and I would rather play with Darth Vader than Yoda.

smadiso1
smadiso1

Wow, looking at this really makes me feel my age: Soul Edge was the last in this series I ever played (unless you count a one time butt whooping I took in an arcade on Soul Cal 2). I can definitely see getting back into this franchise. If Darth gets a force choke attack I'm back in 100%.

LinktheCloud
LinktheCloud

I'm Speechless.....I Wanna play Darth SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO bad.

Kenji_Masamune
Kenji_Masamune

Vader is pimp son, if you don't wanna play SW character in SC, then don't unlock/play them.

XcursedangelX
XcursedangelX

ok sooo wtf was namco thinking, 1. i h8 star wars, 2 ytf would they put them in sc4!! ugh sc is amazin, but starwars ****ed it up. o well.. ima still get it. Seigfried is da best character, n he looks badass in this one lolz, y couldnt they put Dante or Kratos in, they wouldve freakn owned, cuz they more popular n kooler than gay vader n yoda.. o well... STILL GONA GET SC4 cuz i love sc, n i still play 3, n its ONLINE!! =P

Serpens_Solida
Serpens_Solida

It was already stupid to think these guys could wield and move so fast, weapons of that magnitude. Now, is gonna be totally absurd to mix the Star Wars universe, and to confront a light saber, and a jedi using it, against these clowns. It's like when they released "Marvel vs. Capcom"; some sucker stuff, plus more sucker stuff. I gotta say that Darth Vader looks awesome, Yoda looks so real, and I'm sure their movements and design will be cool. But PLEEEASE!, not in SoulCalibur. They would meke a lot more money with a game of this nature, but with only Star Wars characters, damn shame.

jpbas
jpbas

Did it make sense to put Spawn in SC2? No. Was it cool? Yes!! Same here. I only wish they didn't spread both characters over two consoles. We can at least hope for future downloadable Star Wars characters. Teras Kasi was a bad game, but I loved playing Star Wars characters in a fighter.

Kratos1235
Kratos1235

HOLY CRAP!!!!! SWEET AWESOMENESS!!!

wii-g
wii-g

well, Vader already came to the PSP so its good that he also appears for PS3, and think about it. Vader is black and shiny like the PS3, Yoda is green and freaky like 360.

some_idiot
some_idiot

I love the inclusion of the Star Wars characters, but why are they only putting one in each version? Do they really expect people to buy both the PS3 and 360 version of the game so they can play as each? When I heard the announcement, I was looking forward to some Yoda vs. Darth Soul Caliber action, but unless they decide to do DLC, it looks like that won't be the case.

donmega1
donmega1

the idea would have been better in my opinion for a soul caliber style game but with all star wars characters. just think, darth mall, Obi Wan, Luke, the Sith lord. thats something i would rather play. i loved soul cal. but its played out now.......

ThePhilosopher
ThePhilosopher

lmfao @ techsta72 another solid fight game entry...also waiting for Tekken 6 and Street Fighter 4

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

For those who don't know the PS2 version of this game was the first ever to include StarWars as part of it's line up. It has ever since, This is nothing new we had Luke and Vader in one Soul Caliber game as unlockable fighters. IT was sweet! Now we have Yoda, and Vader this time! I'm getting this on my PS3 for sure!

mellomr
mellomr

Just an observation, but doesn't this seem similiar to how nintendo is doing things with the Smash Bro. series? I personally like the idea and it helps that the game already has a solid fighting mechanic and gameplay style. I hope they release the character's from the past games to be downloaded. It would fricken rock to have Spawn and Vader beating down the masses online!

Legir
Legir

A little sad that both characters on on different consoles. Oh well. Still freakin awsome.

Killermanjaro
Killermanjaro

Yoda's gonna have an advantage simply because he's smaller then the rest of the characters and he will be hard to hit... and he will own you.

Maersyndel
Maersyndel

Yoda would have been interesting, but how can I complain about getting Vader?! Great news. :)

techsta72
techsta72

would have prefered to see darth maul (kilik style) than darth vader. darth maul ftw! oh, the wii is getting jarjar binks ;-)

BIG-Z
BIG-Z

who's going on wii?

Np_Pro
Np_Pro

wtf is up with this game? Vader? Yoda? AH!!!!

MuthaEffinNinja
MuthaEffinNinja

I'm pretty sure that most of this game is unrealistic. who cares if they explain the chemical and structural makeup of their pixel based weapons, it's a video game. Your going to play Soul Calibur because its a fun fighting game. Not because they manage to blend both universes and have them make sense.

Fallensting
Fallensting

I agree with Daxol. Lightsabers will just cut right through all of the other characters' weapons so this doesn't make any sense unless they actually have cortosis in their weapons. Which I doubt that they will have that. There should be a scene in which the other characters add cortosis in their weapons or this game will be even more unrealistic.

assault120
assault120

is namco on drugs? I don't know why they added these two starwars characters to their fourth soul calibur franchise but it sounds like fun.

jasperr1
jasperr1

I wonder if we could use the power of the dark and light force in the game, flying light saber or force choking? Other chars will be really owned....

MrWeymes
MrWeymes

I agree with the average pumpkin.. Why wouldn't we have a Darth Vader vs Yoda? It's obviously going to happen.

AveragePumpkin
AveragePumpkin

i dont realy matter who gets who, in the end the other carakter will be boyable on the Xbox 360 marketplace and Ps3 playstation store a month after release

ninjarocklee
ninjarocklee

Damn It would be better to have both, hopefully they're released in both, considering i've never played Soul Caliber before :P

Daxol
Daxol

Man, only the cortosis mineral can resist a lightsaber, do the soul swords have cortosis? (xD just finished Jedi Outcast) One of the few reasons to get a PS3 instead of a 360 I guess..