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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144 comments
MajorBrian
MajorBrian

Im not a big fan of these games but when I saw that Yoda and Vader are going to be in it I think I just may have to check it out. I owned to gamecube game and played as Link which was fun. Maybe...just maybe ill have to see it Yoda can whoop just as much butt!

silent_riku
silent_riku

oh man... I'm not all that hyped up about having Star Wars characters in soul caliber... don't get me wrong, i love star wars... but they're holding lightsabers for crying out loud... why in the world isn't yoda or vader able to just melt through the weapons? i loved how SC would always have these secret cameo characters from other games as unlockables but taking star wars characters and putting it in SC is a total thumbs down from me... seeing as they didn't bother to incorporate the real effectiveness of the lightsaber in SC... it would be a totally 'breeze through levels' game if the lightsabers really did what they were supposed to but I mean they ARE secret characters... why not give us the full power? or maybe you could make it that they're unlockable only after you've beaten the hardest mode of the game and then let the lightsabers do their real magic and slice up those worthless little limbs of other characters...

Creciente
Creciente

SCIV is going to be epic. Enough said.

Finstar
Finstar

I agree, I don't see any logic in it if you can't pit vader and yoda against each other..... I'd rather have Hayabusa or Master chief in it with the plasma sword or gravity hammer..hehe.. (altough this has been picked already by DOA4 with their playable female Spartan).

Syliss
Syliss

apparantly they found the galaxy far far away...good thing I don't care about fighting game stories...looks fun, I am not looking forward to being wasted online though :)

Diernes
Diernes

Playstation Should have got Dante, Kratos or someone from the tekken universe like Kazuya. Xbox should have got the Star wars nonsense. Really whats the damn point of having Vader and Yoda if you cant pit them against each other?

blorg13
blorg13

darth vader vs. voldo FTW!

therealdolemike
therealdolemike

I think that is a big waste. The star wars characters are a good idea but it needs to be more like the old ps1 game. Until then i dont think they should make a fighting game with them in it.

ithebigc
ithebigc

Lol, don't you think whoever wrote this paid attention a bit TOO much to the breasts? Perv =P

Entidus
Entidus

Let's hope it won't have the memory bug like Soul Calibur III did that'd wipe your PS2 memory card. Ugh.

BigDaveyDogz
BigDaveyDogz

My Fav 3D Fighter of all time! Cannot wait to play this!

Temptation53
Temptation53

I hope the Star Wars characters fit in ... they don't really fit on paper, but if done right ... it could be awesome.

DS-man
DS-man

Link on the GC version was the best extra

jtthegame316
jtthegame316

cool extras but not as cool as sparn in soul cailbar 2.

GRIMSAGE
GRIMSAGE

Now this is a must play. Kickin butt with Yoda will be sweet. But I wish vader was on the Xbox too. =(

devjmoore
devjmoore

Pretty soon, Soul Calibur is going to be Smash Bros. Calibur.

funnysplay
funnysplay

Glad the 360 gets yoda, vader's a wuss.

huriona
huriona

What's next? Altair in Splinter Cell? :)

sonicboy2
sonicboy2

thay being dumb y would you put those on 2 opasit consoles no one well ever git to have yoda and vader fight thay shoud put Dante and Heihachi or some other for ps3 and yoda and vafer on xbox just becus in SC2 spawn was on the xbox a out of place one but cool thay should do that

Fluffman
Fluffman

lol this game is ganne be popular among the star wars fans

mago_hitokage
mago_hitokage

TurkeySwammish, you do know that Tekken is made by Namco as well, right?

zentes
zentes

Umm.. for the record.. Star Wars characters aren't from the future.. A LONG time ago.. a galaxy far away.. ring a bell? :)

Slash_out
Slash_out

I hope it will be better than SC3. the additions in it where nice, but the animation was way slower than in SC2. Well along with DOA, SC is my favorite fighting game. I can't wait for more. I don't understand the logic with Yoda and DV in SC though... Green gnome from the futur with a light saber against big armored gigantic swordmaster from the middle age? Wow... Talk about preserving the atmosphere and setting of the game. I could understand for Link, he is from a medieval/fantasy like world... But guys from Star wars? -_- Come on...

DisturbdKoRnKiD
DisturbdKoRnKiD

Uberness, but yeah Dante in this game would make it even better.

TurkeySwammish
TurkeySwammish

SCIII was the best fighting game I ever played (Next to Street Fighter). My friends and I never play games together but SC3 had us doing that for months. I actually feel like I'm in control of my fighter when I play Soul Calibur. I can't imagine anyone here beleiving that Tekken and Virtua Fighter is better...GO NAMCO!

itsJim
itsJim

They are doomed to fail, they cant make it realistic (as realistic as jedi/sith in soul calibur can get) without making it unbalanced, the lightsabers would just chop through the other characters weapons!!!

arab30002
arab30002

Dante when will you be in soul caliber ???????

jsax78
jsax78

Soul Caliber 5, they should put in Gordon Freeman with a Crowbar.

Lockedge
Lockedge

Masters of Teras Kasi was an awesome game.........well, awesome in theory. It was a little wonky... Soul Calibur 4 will be pretty great, though. I'm not even worried.

Smoolander
Smoolander

Namco ideas meeting: "Our last game didn't sell so well people. Many people are saying the game is irrelevant. Let's throw some ideas around how to slow down this sinking ship game franchise". "How about we add some characters from another series, and try and sucker in the fans of that series. It's worked before, and surely that will save our game instead of fixing any game faults." "OK, great idea, who do we go for?" Junior nerd in the corner "Well, I like Star Wars". "Brilliant, you're now vice president"

Tigermangran
Tigermangran

i thinf this will make the soul caliber series even better!

frostmore
frostmore

This is too weird,its like mixing mario with halo 3.

infamous2117
infamous2117

does this mean that yoda and vader replace previous guest characters like spawn and yoshimitsu? also i noticed what looked like that guy from ninja showdown.

IguanaBob
IguanaBob

I think they should include clone Commandos too.

ibanezdropd
ibanezdropd

i was upset at first, but i am actual glad i will get to play as yoda. he's pretty BA

powah_serge
powah_serge

I'm pro-starwars, but why pay for 2 consoles to play as both?

wproiet1
wproiet1

Well i saw this coming,i read a videogame magazine article about SC4 and it mentioned to guest characters with "sabers" without saying any names.Pretty crazy overall.

omegakie
omegakie

they should put kratos in the ps3 version and someone like the chief for the 360 version

p00phead
p00phead

bandai namco why couldn't you just put both of them on each version

Diadem002
Diadem002

Yoda and Vader added mighta just removed this game from my must buy list and moved it to a might rent list.

man_alive
man_alive

why annoy us with different characters exclusive to different consoles? i'm not buying a PS3 just to play Vader. and no Vader vs. Yoda? what a gyp.

ilantis
ilantis

Isn't Yoda too short for receive a horizontal attack ? And... can I use his attacks and his weapons with a (tall) created character? Like in Soul calibur 3 when you get at the end of a job (like the barbarian who can obtain nightmare's attacks and weapons)