Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Game has fighting spirit

say the word “fighter” to a gamer conjures many thoughts: “famous” characters
like Street Fighter’s Ryu or “that guy” from Tekken, riotous matches of “Smash
Bros.” or simply the mindless button-mashing that represent years of gaming for
so many. Yet since the dawn of the “Soulcalibur” series in 1999 (not counting
the forgotten “Soul Edge”) no other series has drawn such a following of
serious fighter-enthusiasts and newcomers alike. After nearly three years of
waiting, the latest installment, “Soulcalibur IV,” hit the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles
this summer, bringing back the beloved fighting experience with a few extras.
Yet despite rejoicing over the game’s long-awaited release, the game itself
plays with a vague sense of disappointment, owing only to its own high
reputation to live up to.

developer Namco adhered well to the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mantra,
leaving the sequel feeling much like the past two installments. The design
itself needed no adjustment and the nostalgia only adds to the game. Yet
without many new features, there is little distinguishing “Soulcalibur IV” from
III aside from upgraded graphics and some new flaws. To be fair, it tries to
implement originality, but the attempt is dubious: Story Mode is essentially
Arcade Mode with thin backgrounds and a few recycled cinematic sequences,
whereas Tower Mode is little more than a repackaging of previous single-player

 In an additional attempt at freshness, all  characters have two new or updated costumes,
yet some are unquestionably overworked (perhaps to flaunt the game’s superior
graphics) or simply uninspired (which is ironic since Namco commissioned famous
character designers from other games to design the “bonus” characters, many of
which overshadow the updated designs of the original characters).  Although the design quality may not have
increased, the average cup size of the female fighters sure did. In fact, most
of the creativity was probably exhausted on figuring out how to make massive
boobs as revealing as possible while somehow  remaining in the costume. But those are not
the only things that appear cheap and artificial. Many of the “new” characters,
with the outstanding exception of Hilde, are simply clones borrowing most or
all of an existing fighter’s set of moves, while boasting a different


these annoyances “Soulcalibur IV” is still a must-have. The graphics and
presentation are some of the best seen to date, the music and voiceovers are as
impressive as always, loadtimes are almost non-existent and its foundation —
the game-play — still provides smart controls and a deep, yet accessible,
fighting system resulting in nearly endless fun. Oh, and did we mention Yoda?
He’s a bit awkward to play with, but you know you want to see how absurd he
looks speaking Japanese. Throw in an incredibly upgraded character
customization option (I personally made a red dress-wearing, tambourine-waving
Heidi Klum) and a decent online play option and you have a solid fighter. And
aside from a battle narrator as monotonous and unenthused as Wilford Brimley,
the rest of the game’s flaws can be ignored.

criticism is really all that can be said against “Soulcalibur IV.” Since the
series has been heralded as the pinnacle of fighting games, the shoes it must
fill are as enormous as Ivy’s unsettlingly mammoth breasts. So while it’s an
incredibly fun game, it just doesn’t define what the genre should be as it had
done in the past with “Soulcalibur II” and III. Though lots of people with a
system to play “Soulcalibur IV” will (and should) buy it, most won’t (and
really shouldn’t) buy a system just to play it.

4 stars out of 5

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