Soul Calibur IV is a competent, entertaining and beautiful fighter, but you can't help but feel something is lacking....

User Rating: 7.5 | SoulCalibur IV X360
Seeing as for once I'm not reviewing an RPG I'm having to stray a little from my usual review format. I'm by no means a beat em up expert but I enjoy a few franchises in the genre relatively well, Tekken, Dead Or Alive and Soul Calibur have all graced my games library in several incarnations. I was excited about SCIV looming on the horizon and had the title preordered as hype for it reached fever pitch. Nearly everyone reading this will have played one of Soul Caliburs previous titles, so the key question is:- Is SC IV any good? The resounding answer to this question is happily yes, BUT the game is not without flaws and is arguably the weakest installment so far.

Now, I'm a single player gamer me, I like to buy games with a decent single player offering and it irritates me when this aspect is annoyed unless its the whole point of the game. If your going to have a single player mode at all make it good. Soul Calibur IV's single player mode is decent, not good, but decent. The story mode sees your character battling through five fights sometimes against multiple opponents, you watch some beautiful to look at but incredibly pointless cutscenes with a narrative presumably written by a fourteen year old fan of action movies. It's entertaining enough and is addictive to finish all the casts plot lines but ultimately it's not what it should have been. The other single player modes involve good old arcade mode (which you need to play through to unlock certain things) and a "Tower Of Souls" mode which is a highly challenging experience where a team of characters plow through various challenges if you ascend the tower, and survival mode if you descend. It's the best the single player game has to offer and each match has hidden criteria to meet in order to unlock new things. The game does give you slight clues as to what these criteria are, but their usually so cryptic it may just as well be giving you steaming hot turds or perhaps small inflatable dinghys instead. As you gight in the game you of course unlock new modes, playstyles, weapons, characters and level up fighting styles all the usual.

So here we have a reasonable single player offering that while o.k pales in comparrison to what the previous titles in the series have to offer.

What we have left of course is the multiplayer mode, I havent played online and its unlikely I ever will but I have played Vs mode against other humans and it's great. Well balanced, fun, multiplayer gaming in the same room.. like the days of the good old N64 (yes I'm getting nostalgic :p )

Character wise we have the full roster of muscular guys and even huger breasted than the previous installment girls for you to get to grips with, all pretty much retaining the same moves and play style your used to by this point in the series. There are a few new additions in the form of some characters contributed by manga artists, some new "proper" cast members and of course Yoda and The Apprentice from Star Wars on the 360 version.

You can also add your own character using the frankly amazing create a charecter mode. This is quite honestly the best create a character mode I've come across well.. ever and the game gains marks for this being better than even what Mass Effect had to offer. Theres so much to play with, customize and enjoy, I can't quite put into words how good this feature is.

Overall SC IV isn't going to win any new fans to the franchise, but if you enjoyed previous installments, want more of the same with a new online mode, some of the single player cut out but still a decent chunk there and a superb character creator then give it a whirl. Or maybe a rent first if your unsure.

Oh and I forget to mention.. visually and sound wise this game is breathtaking eye candy, ear candy, arguably some of the best visuals this gen so far thats for sure and certain, another thing to hike the mark up a little.

In the words of Yoda:- Moderately strong in the force is this