Let’s get this out of the way, I’ve never played a SoulCalibur game in my life, ever. So who better to review a game then a newb to the franchise. Now I’m not a total stranger to fighting games, having owned a few in my time but SoulCaliber is totally new to me. I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant in giving SoulCaliber IV a try, but after seeing some gameplay videos, being able to play Yoda and having nothing new in my game queue I decided to give it a shot. SoulCaliber seemed like the perfect opportunity to get back into a genre I’ve stayed away from for a long time.

Being unfamiliar with the controls of the game I figured what better place to begin then by training and learning some of the dozens of moves and combos a character can have. Unfortunately the training option is a bit of a let down, there’s a menu which lists the available moves that a character can pull off, but there’s no straight up training option. I would have been nice if I didn’t have to refer to a menu when learning how to pull off the various menus. It really seems counterintuitive, especially if they’re trying to attract new people to the franchise.

To say the game is a button masher is an understatement. Entering the story mode you battle eight opponents and you can clear the entire mode in just over ten minutes if you bash your buttons right. It’s somewhat disappointing clearing a mode that quickly. Although, to be honest it was somewhat fun. The combat system is somewhat solid, and while it lacks any real depth, it’s a case of the more buttons you bash the more moves you’ll pull off. Besides the story mode there are a couple of other single player options available; the Standard Arcade Mode, and the Tower of Lost Souls.

The Arcade mode is as general as it gets. Beat your opponent twice and you move onto the next stage. There’s not much more to it really. The most in depth of the single player modes is the Tower of Lost Souls. You’ll spend your most time playing through this mode. You have the option of using one through three characters as you battle various opponents through each floor of the tower. At times it gets a bit ridiculous when you have to take on nine different characters with only one character and they have the ability of healing and you’re stuck with the lifebar you’ve got and no chance to heal. Beating your opponents and pulling off combos will earn you various equipment and treasures which gives you the option if upgrading your character. You will spend hours trying to ascend each floor, and once you’ve done that you get the option of descending as well and beating up even more people.

SoulCaliber IV features 30 characters to choose from and with the addition of the fairly deep creation system, you can spend countless hours playing through the various modes. If you want to have the option of using every character you’re going to have to unlock almost half of them through various means, but it was almost always through beating them in battle. Once you unlock a character you can use them in any mode, whether it’s single player or online. If you own a 360 one of the special characters is Yoda, whereas the PS3 version allows you to play as Darth Vader. There are rumors that the two characters will be available for their console counterparts as downloadable content later this year. It’s still a bit odd seeing a Star Wars character battling it out with characters from another universe.

Online play can be fun and it’s nice to see some thought given to the layout of the lobby, but when you get into some of the four player rooms it can get a little confusing as to who is up next. You have the option of playing a ranked or player match and you can build up your stats through that. Unfortunately there’s not much else to describe in the online play

Visually SoulCalibur IV is top notch, vibrant backgrounds really accentuate the gameplay. Each character has an individualistic look and the various outfits are something to be amused by. Namco Bandai really did a good job with how the game looks, unfortunately they could have spent some more time on the audio part. The sound effects are pretty good, but the phrases the characters speak gets repetitive almost immediately. At times you’ll hear the same phrase repeatedly about ten times within a minute, it can get that annoying.

Overall, SoulCaliber 4 is a fun fighting game, there’s nothing revolutionary about it and at times you can become rather frustrated with it. Despite its flaws it’s still something I’d recommend for at least a rent. Buying it outright depends on your like of fighting games, if you’re a big fan then I’d say go for it. If not, a rental never hurt.