Soulcalibur IV Updated Hands-On

A familiar face, some new stages, and some new moves. We try out an updated version of Namco's fighter and get a feel for some of the new features.

We recently had the chance to get our hands on an updated version of Namco's Soulcalibur IV, the latest entry in its popular fighting series. The latest installment features a large roster of fighters that mixes old and new characters. It will also feature some very special guest stars, Darth Vader and Yoda, who'll be exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, respectively. While Darth and Yoda weren't playable in the version we tried, we were able to check out some new characters and stages. We also got to try out some of the new mechanics being introduced in this installment and check it out on the PlayStation 3. While the game is still a work in progress, the new content has us curious to see how the game is going to come together.

Scheherazade is one of the all-new characters on Soulcalibur IV's roster.

The demo we played on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 offered the same content on both platforms. We were able to try out four characters, each of which featured an alternate costume. There were veteran fighters, Taki, Cassandra, and Seong Mi-Na, as well as newcomer Hilde. The five playable stages included the two stages we saw at CES, the jungle and Grecian stages. There were also three new ones: a large carousel stage, a dojo room that overlooked a battlefield, and a seaside boat.

We dove right into the new stuff, picking Hilde and the carousel stage. The new fighter takes some getting used to because she doesn't handle quite as you might expect. While she may look like Siegfried with cleavage, handling her is considerably different. You'll use a shorter blade for many of her attacks and bring her longer stave into play a bit more strategically. The most interesting twist to her fighting style is the need to charge some of her attacks with her longer weapon. When it hits, it does a good amount of damage, but charging it up when someone like Taki is busting you up left, right, and center is tricky. Seong Mi-Na, on the other hand, has a much tighter feel thanks in part to our familiarity with her. The staff wielding butt-kicker has the range and a respectable amount of speed that work well together.

Although we'd tried Cassandra and Taki at CES, we gave them another whirl in this version and found them to be tightened up considerably. The move timing felt a bit better and combos came easier. The only other thing that stood out to us in this version is that the overall combat speed didn't feel quite as fast as it has, but we'll see how that evolves throughout the game's development. The stages didn't really play much of a factor in battle, although it was possible to ring out in the carousel and dock stages after your broke some of the background elements.

The combat system in this version of the game finally included some of the new content we'd heard about previously. The demo featured some new elements in the life-bar displays, which play into combat. The large gem at the end of each bar is the soul gauge and cycles through different color states based on your combat style. If you tend to block a lot, your gauge will eventually cycle to red and allow your opponent to perform a powerful guard-break attack. If your foe gets the timing right, he or she can follow up with another strong attack and actually break your armor. This new system is tracked by a small trio of green boxes under the life bars onscreen, which represent the condition of your armor: high, mid, and low.

From the look of it, once your armor is broken, that's how it stays for the rest of your match. Fortunately, your armor is back when you take on a new fighter. When your armor is broken, your fighter will reflect the loss in his or her appearance, and you'll obviously take a bit more damage. The more controversial new addition to the mix is the critical finishers, which are tied to armor loss. At the moment, once you've broken at least one section of your opponent's armor, you can knock him or her around again to get his or her soul gauge back to red. Then, you'll have a small window of time to trigger the critical finisher by pressing all four face buttons on the controller at the same time. If you've timed it right, you'll be treated to a short cinematic sequence that's unique to each fighter, wherein fighters will lay the smack down on their opponents and end the match, regardless of the recipient's health. We have mixed feelings about this addition, although we have to say it will ensure people stay on their toes during a match.

Yoda is an Xbox 360 exclusive, while Darth Vader will appear only on PlayStation 3.

The visuals in the game are shaping up really well on both platforms. The character models look great on both platforms. There's a high level of detail on the fighters and their costumes, which looks sharp. The somewhat "free and easy" physics that was happening with Taki's chest is still in full effect, so we're starting to assume that she'll be the bounciest character in the roster. The environments are gorgeous and a bit more interactive than the last time we saw the game. At the moment, the interactivity is limited to the odd bit of floor breaking and elements in the back, such as vases on the dojo stage breaking, but the effects are fine. We noticed some new ambient elements in the CES stages, namely dodos that are now roaming the battlefield, which is a bit odd, but we reckon they went extinct for a reason, right? For those looking to split hairs, the game looks almost identical on both platforms, but there are a few minor differences at this time. The PS3 seems to have a bit more specular lighting effects, which are most noticeable on Hilde's armor, and there are some differences in the color saturation on both systems, but it's not anything dramatic. The game's frame rate is mostly stable, but there were a few hitches, which is to be expected for a game in the middle of development.

Based on this meatier taste of the game, Soulcalibur IV is coming together nicely. The visuals are looking good, and the fighting system is heading in an interesting direction. We'll be curious to see how the final system handles and how much of an impact the environment is going to have on combat. Soulcalibur IV is slated to ship this July for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Look for more in the coming months.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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242 comments
Jazz_Fan
Jazz_Fan

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Jazz_Fan
Jazz_Fan

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Jazz_Fan
Jazz_Fan

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Jazz_Fan
Jazz_Fan

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Jazz_Fan
Jazz_Fan

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

Jazz_Fan
Jazz_Fan

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

Jazz_Fan
Jazz_Fan

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

Jazz_Fan
Jazz_Fan

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

Jazz_Fan
Jazz_Fan

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Jazz_Fan
Jazz_Fan

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D-Camo
D-Camo

Kratos should have been included. I'm still getting this game though.

MrFisty
MrFisty

pupu_07, do you use your console to play games or run spreadsheets? I've got both systems and I'm telling you, spec sheet or not, you can barely pick the difference between the two. Some slight differences here and there but we're hardly talking 16 vs 64 bit here. You need to get over the whole CPU/GPU thing and start playing some games.

pupu_07
pupu_07

@HAAS599 Sorry to burst you're bubble im not as stupid as you think sorry , I new it was to do with the colours i should rephase what i said so its easier for you to under stand. Given the circumstances of this whole console xbox 360 vs ps3 what i said sort of makes sense!, I didnt say this is exactly why they put yoda on 360 and vader on ps3, I should have made it more clear so fan boy's like you wouldnt jump to conclusions and come in stating the obvious. And i its evident you're a fan boy almost every game that you review on ps3 you give a 10 except you're older reviews, before you were as hardcore a fanboy as you are now.

pupu_07
pupu_07

@ kupo1 No it wont be a trend because ps3 is less powerfull, Do you understand ps3 doesnt have as powerfull Gpu, not to mention less avalible ram, also Xbox 360 CPU architecture has three times the general purpose processing power of the Cell cpu. there for can never look better. Not to say a games art direction couldnt be better than others. But you will continue to tell fairy tale, but im just telling you the truth, do some research would you and open both eyes. I have soul caliber 4 pre ordered and cannot wait till friday woot, dont care how it looks, its probly better on 360 than ps3 version truth be told, I'm playen the game not the graphics but its gonna look sweet on my full hd 42" sony bravia lcd none the less....

ddrstar513
ddrstar513

yoda and darth vader? not in soul calibur

wars45
wars45

it was done for ps3

alexl86
alexl86

I dunno, there's always some conflicting statements when it comes to game graphics. Even if it does look better on the PS3, it's probably because the game was developed for the PS3 and then ported over to the 360. I doubt there will be many PS3 games that will actually look better than the 360 in the future. Edit: I don't know which system it was developed for, but Namco being in Japan and having a lot of experience with Sony systems, my guess is the PS3. Also, fighting games usually look better than anything else because there's less happening on the screen. All the power is focused around the two characters and the arena and it usually runs at a very high frame rate, so the game will probably still look better than anything on either system, even if it doesn't have the same scope.

kupo1
kupo1

UK based Magazine, Play has posted a review of Namco Bandai’s fighting game, Soul Calibur 4. They love the game, one of the best fighting games but one thing they said made me think hmmmmm. They mentioned that the Playstation 3 version of the game looks better that the Xbox 360 version..... "On a decent 720p TV Soul Calibur IV is one of the best looking games on the PS3, and for once better looking than the 360 version, and is the ideal thing to put on when a mate pops round." Is the PS3 finally being used to it's fullest potential? Will this be an ongoing trend from now on?

rewind915
rewind915

I can't wait for this game. Although, I would really like confirmation one way or the other if Yoda will be available on PS3 and Vader on 360. In the interview the guy said "maybe, it's possible, but i don't think so." i just don't understand how that would make sense. anyway, if anyone know and could let me know that would be AWESOME!

trojanlax12
trojanlax12

I've heard 360 owners can download Vader on marketplace which that might be a reference too. Also, I heard somewhere that you can create your own character, is that true?

DeathKurse
DeathKurse

if you do your research, over on youtube.com they have a video of Yoda fighting Darth Vader, in not sure which version it was for... but it does exist...

punkdsk8erdude
punkdsk8erdude

squirrel gamer, i believe gamespot here has confirmed that there will be no such downloadable content as far as the opposite star wars characters. thats why they put in the apprentice from SW: FU. so there can still be ultimate lightsaber duels lol.

HAAS599
HAAS599

Pupu- PLease tell me your not serious. The answer is pretty simple. XBOX360 colors are green and white and PS3 colors are black and chrome. Calm down, the rabbit hole isn't that deep.

HAAS599
HAAS599

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

Kongousou_ha
Kongousou_ha

Well as somebody who has the game already, I just want to say that this game is FIRE. The graphics are totally ridiculous. I've never seen soul calibur look this good. So which ever system you get it on; just be happy that it's going to look fantastic either way. And the new critical hit and armor break systems really add to the depth of the game. I can't wait to get cracking on that story mode.

tp_RavenX
tp_RavenX

lol Vasot... "Actually the Xbox360 version is looking better graphically because of the ATI Xenos GPU" What is that supposed to mean? Do you even know what kind of power that processor actually produces? Or are you assuming that because it's from ATI it must be better? The Wii uses an ATI GPU, why do wii games look worse in comparison?

pupu_07
pupu_07

The reason they put yoda on 360 and darth on ps3 is because xbox 360 owners are the jedis, Ps3 guys are darth, so what there saying is xbox 360 people are better in a sense, because darth vader is a fallen jedi nuff sed, well i dont think thats the real case but it sounds like that, if you dont get that you dont get that you certainly dont get Soul caliber and all you're here for is comparing the two consoles. Its set to be the best fighting game ever and i dont care about this whole oposite console crap its all good if you're a soul caliber fan yipee me and my freinds are going to be in my mums basement for months smoking ch-oof, its winter and its fricken cold anyway.

kboy824
kboy824

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

SquirrelGamer
SquirrelGamer

Character creatio is in this game, I believe they've expanded on it profoundly, I also believe I read, that you can download the opposite Star Wars character onto your system (I.E. If you have a 360, you can download Vader, and vice-versa). I think I read, that they will release the downloads a couple months after the game's release. I don't remember for sure though.

Vasot
Vasot

No rijnie Actually the Xbox360 version is looking better graphically because of the ATI Xenos GPU The PS3 GPU is weaker The problem is that Vader and Yoda are exclusives according to what console you have

satan_89
satan_89

I REALLY hope that this game has character creation because the last one was fun and if they expand on it, it would be great. I haven't heard any news about it, but here's hoping. Even if it doesn't have it i'll still buy it and i'll still love it.

cjzim
cjzim

lol 15$? ? per character ? lol .. more like 2.99 .... isn't that how much most add ons are?

saadomar1109
saadomar1109

Dude I totally wanna hit Taki with my lightsaber.

tenkuchima
tenkuchima

I'm sort of pissed off about yoda in the game. He will probably be to short to grab, or hit with high attacks, making him uber cheap,

greatestali
greatestali

omfg they had to do this yoda for 360 and dart for ps3 this is puuuuure bs why cant they have both for both systems?

Noss1
Noss1

has anyone here actually considered that the developers will let you download exclusive characters for each system for a price? for example For 360 owners - buy darth vader for 15$ For PS3 owners - buy yoda for 15$ its another way for the game to make more money. hmm..

guzhead
guzhead

I want Yoda DAM IT!!!! This is no fare! Why must I be forced to only play as Vadar and not Yoda. And hell yes a Vadar vs Yoda duel would be great!

diggyman
diggyman

Wait a minute... Everyone's complaining about Vader and Yoda not being on the same game because they're not going to be able to fight each other? ... Well aren't we going to be able to pit them against each other online between a PS3 version and a 360 version? or is that not going to happen either? I guess now that I think about it, that prob won't happen. But the secret apprentice will be on both versions, so there will be light saber duels on both versions.

diggyman
diggyman

=) Just a few more days... Is there going to be a character creation mode like in SC3? If there is, they didn't do a great job of talking about it.

Sunrie
Sunrie

Well, I just got my preorder in and I can't wait. The Critical Finishing Moves aren't really going to be a huge mechanic in the game. It's more there for people to really slam the serious newbs and be embarrassment to seasoned players. Wish the place I ordered from gave out the games 11 days early like some people did...

i_am_dummy
i_am_dummy

The critical finish moves don't seem like a very good idea, but having Darth Vader is cool!!

Slappywhite2001
Slappywhite2001

definitely going to be a rent-before-buying title for me, but i look forward to seeing what it finally looks like at launch.

SkeletalKnight
SkeletalKnight

Its only 5 more days until this comes out, I can't wait!