Soul Calibur IV Hands-On

We went hands-on with both Yoda and Darth Vader in the latest playable builds of Soul Calibur IV.

Soul Calibur IV made a surprise appearance at this year's Ubidays event in Paris thanks to Ubisoft's agreement to distribute the game in Europe. We'd already played the game on the PlayStation 3 prior to Ubidays, but this was the first time that we were able to play as Darth Vader, and it provided our first taste of the Xbox 360 version with Yoda. Both editions are shaping up fantastically--a good sign given the two months left until release-- and we're happy to report that the Star Wars characters are not only excellent renderings of Lucas' characters, but also great Soul Calibur fighters in their own right.

The critical attack promises to add a new twist to Soul Calibur's gameplay, especially for attacking players.

The demo that we played had four playable characters and stages on both the PS3 and Xbox 360. Siegfried, Mitsurugi, and new character Hilde made an appearance on both, while Yoda is exclusive to the 360 and Darth Vader to the PS3. Each version featured the same stages, though, some of which boasted new features, such as destructibility and moving walls. The Ostrheinsburg Castle Throne Room had a wall of armoured soldiers that gradually closed in on the fighters, while the Phantom Pavillion had walls that could be broken down by smashing an opponent into them. Thesmophoros' Imperial Garden was the sort of idyllic green location that's now standard for a Soul Calibur game, while the Star Destroyer Docking Bay was the token Star Wars level--complete with laser beam walls and Imperial Shuttles in the hanger. Even better, the Imperial March music played in the background, completing a dream stage for Star Wars fans.

The highlight for many people may be these Star Wars characters, and we're happy to report that they work superbly within the Soul Calibur universe. Darth Vader moves much quicker than he ever did in the movies, but his double-handed lightsaber grip and rough-and-ready throwing style feel authentic to the character. He's also got some great intros and winning animations, with such quotes as "Do not underestimate the power of the dark side" voiced by original Vader actor James Earl Jones. The graphics engine also allows for some nice visual touches, with cloth deformation effects on Vader's cape and his shiny helmet reflecting the environmental detail. The same cloth deformation is present on Yoda's cape on the 360, and as you'd expect, he's even faster than Vader. Yoda's quick, unpredictable movements have clearly been modeled on his fighting style from Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones, and he has a great grab move where he jumps on an opponent's face and slashes it with his green lightsaber.

Yoda and Darth Vader are not only true to their Star Wars roots, but they're excellent Soul Calibur characters as well.

As well as new characters, Soul Calibur IV will introduce a couple of new gameplay mechanics to the series. The first is the critical attack, which can be used to break through the guard of a particularly defensive player. If you manage to land several attacks on a players while they're blocking, their defense will eventually become weakened and their health bar will flash red. If you land another powerful attack when this happens, the character will stumble backward--giving you a chance to hit all four face buttons and perform the critical hit. Each character unleashes his or her own particular finishing moves--in Siegfried's case, he strikes his opponent down with a highly charged slice from his sword.

But perhaps the biggest new addition to the series is online play. This isn't something that we got to see in action at Ubidays, but we did talk to the manager on the game, Namco Bandai's Katsutoshi Sasaki, about how it's shaping up. He conceded that while an online mode is an essential part of any fighting game these days, he still believes that it will help fighters of all abilities get into the series. The online mode will offer simple one-on-one ranked and unranked modes, but Sasaki-san described how players of similar ability will be grouped together to make matches fairer. There'll also be the usual leaderboards for the top players to track their overall standing. Speaking to the Ubisoft representatives at Ubidays, character customisation also seems like it will play a large part of the game postrelease. Characters can be adorned with various outfits and armour depending on taste, and these items can be unlocked by playing the game or buying them online.

Soul Calibur IV is looking very promising in the run up to release, with an impressive graphics engine and the unmistakable Soul Calibur gameplay both in place. There's little to choose between the two versions, and ultimately it may well come down to your choice of Star Wars character or preferred controller. The game is set to launch in the US on July 31 and Europe on August 1, so we don't have long to wait to start slicing each other up online.

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Discussion

204 comments
NND1
NND1

Just picked it up cant wait to get home and Play.....

CamiKitten
CamiKitten

Sounds like something I'll end up getting after work today! Although I've never been too particular about fighting games, this seems like a must. Yay online play XD

lowkey254
lowkey254

It is good to hear that the customization is for everyone and not just for those that buy the "special edition" pack. I think I'll pick it up this weekend.

hXcShock
hXcShock

i was just watching a official movie on this game, and just now i noticed that "the apprentice" from the force unleashed is making his debut on this game also?

TIE_Elite_Pilot
TIE_Elite_Pilot

this game rocks. Yoda is badass, and the tweaked the fighting engine enough to keep it familiar yet fresh. Worth the cash, especially in with so few fighting games out these days.

OO7OO7
OO7OO7

Sounds great, got get this game now.

ThAdEa82
ThAdEa82

SC3 was a total disappointment with the story. Ruined that game for me. Fun arcade beat'em-up...but thats it

yhaijeous
yhaijeous

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

maximaxi4eva2
maximaxi4eva2

Soulcaliber is one of the best fighters ever, so i am keeping a close eye on this one...

joeallen06
joeallen06

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

joeallen06
joeallen06

vasot u sound just like a fan boy it already says they look exactly the same

ChickenHounk911
ChickenHounk911

vasot: You mean "acheivements"? Anyway, this game looks AWESOME! I already pre-purchased.

Vasot
Vasot

The graphics will be a little better in XBOX360 according to developer rumors. XBOX360 has a better GPU from PS3... Also in XBOX360 it will have trophies as i heard

NND1
NND1

S-O-U-L C-A-L-I-B-U-R!!!! Next Gen.. Truly Awesome

EnaVRi
EnaVRi

@yal-tattan I also live in a 3rd world contry... And no SC4 around here... Well PS3 games in Indo will probably come later than the actual release dates...

yal-tattan
yal-tattan

Dude! so glad i live in a third world country where nobody cares about street dates and stuff ;p sc4 was released 2 days ago in Kuwait! i got it for the sake of it even thought i wasn't even excited about it. nevertheless the game is surprisingly deep! tons of customization options, and i mean TONS, armor, helmet, gloves, boots, shoes and many more! not to mention the top notch gameplay (reminds me of sc2 on dreamcast). i cant say for online because servers are not up yet it seems. oh and its HARD, there is this tower u either go up or down in and its pretty darned hard and challenging i love it! i have always hated starwars... nevertheless Yoda seem to be nicely implemented, i didnt care that it was "star wars" cause he fits very well in the whole thing. i was surprised at how short the story mode was though, but its okay cause it encourages you to do it over and over to unlock weapons and get some cash that u need to upgrade your gear and stuff. if you are a fan of fighting games, beautiful things to look at and a challenge, grab it immediately when it comes out in your country. oh one last thing. MUAHAHAHAH ;p

i_am_dummy
i_am_dummy

Agulf YOU DON'T HAVE TO play as the Star Wars characters. Are you saying you'd get this game if it had less characters? The people who want to play as Star Wars characters will, and the people who don't want to don't have to! They're just an addition!

icym
icym

Its cool to see Vader and Yoda. I only wish they could have kept characters from previous versions like Link and Heihachi

Agulf
Agulf

I would get this if it didn't have the star wars characters.

grambyte
grambyte

Looks nice, though since I'm as bad as the next guy with this game I don't know yet if it's worth getting since my girl will beat me over and over with just button bashing.

xialon
xialon

Nice to know that I will be able to see Darth Vader in 1080i.

gamah_killah
gamah_killah

Whoa, the graphic certainly looks oustanding

Hungry_bunny
Hungry_bunny

Looks so good, and the character designs are so awesome.

GDCalibur
GDCalibur

Sweet I can't wait for this game. Thankfully it comes out at the end of the month. Looking forward to kicking some arse with Darth Vader.

Strife88
Strife88

Wow! I just got back into the first Soul Calibur and this one just looks amazing.

wars45
wars45

let the batlle begin l

carstairs
carstairs

Yoda and Vader should be interesting.

thisisasignin
thisisasignin

@ playstation_wii: Cameos are nothing new to the Soul Calibur series :)

playstation_wii
playstation_wii

Why would they add Star Wars characters? This, I do not understand. :?

CommanderShiro
CommanderShiro

Buying armor/weapons online? Okay that kind of pisses me off. I enjoyed doing all the tedious tasks in the previous games of the series to buy armor/weapons, but now some of them cost actual money? At times I hate how current gen has turned out, easier way for more money to be taken from the consumer. I'm still going to get this game when I get a PS3, but I won't pay anymore money after I get it.

workingdesigns1
workingdesigns1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

jeremiah06
jeremiah06

I swear who has the money to throw at extra armor they should all be included it just suck that they expect me to pay $5 for the best sword!!!!

darkslider99
darkslider99

@Sonygameholder7 and everyone else codemming SCIV star wars character... You do remeber that SCII had guest characters as well, right? Which you listed as being a great part of the series. Did they ruin the game? Obviously not. Sure, the addition of Star Wars characters is a litle more out there, but oh well, don't play as them. Problem solved.

chad_giac
chad_giac

im pumped as hell 4 this one

CY4N1D3_625
CY4N1D3_625

Awww hell yeah! Looks like I'll be setting my Halo 3 aside for a while once this one hits the shelves...

SonyGameHolder7
SonyGameHolder7

(***) the Star Wars characters. This is Soul Calibur, not Star Wars. This only proves that SC has sold his Soul and will never be as good as SE, SC and SCII

SolidSnake35
SolidSnake35

That's cool that they got the original voice actor for Darth Vader.

t3rray
t3rray

I agree with dpach I like the game ts fun and it never gets old depending how good you are

dpach
dpach

i cant wait this game comes out and it comes out the day before my birthday

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

Wahoo! Star Wars characters in SC! Now to get my 360 and the game when it comes out.

Illusionist_84
Illusionist_84

ALRIGHTT!!!!! this is the game i've been waiting for... although the star wars characters don't seem quite right. but i still got to have it.. I CAN'T WAIT !!