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May 14 2008
Soul Calibur IV - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
31/7/2008UbisoftBandai NamcoProject Soul
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
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Soul Calibur IV - looks stunning.
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That's newcomer Hilde on the left there...

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Each of the fighters looks superb.
Soul Calibur should need no introduction. With almost 10 million sales around the globe from 5 main titles and a Wii spin off (the first game on PSOne was called Soul Edge/Soul Blade) the series is now one of the biggest fighting franchises on the market. Soul Calibur IV is the first game to hit the PS3, and the anticipation is fever pitch.

While the fighting mechanics will largely remain the same there are a couple of new elements worth pointing out. The developers are including what is dubbed Active Matching Battle which sees players 'fight against multiple opponents under different circumstances in a unique opponent management mechanic'. Make of it what you will. More exciting to me though is the ability to destroy pieces of enemies' armour once their Soul Gauge is diminished while the characters will now include a new Critical Finishing move to finish off your opponent for good.

In terms of game modes Soul Calibur IV sees the usual contenders. Each character has a story to be revealed through the story mode while an Arcade mode takes the game back to it's pure, no distraction, fighting. The Tower of Lost Souls sees you fighting in special battles to challenge and customise your fighting skills. A training mode allow you to hone those skills prior to entering battle while the game includes a Standard Vs and Special Vs (where you can used any standard or customised characters) for 2-player battles. Perhaps the most exciting element is the Character Creation where you can create a character and customise their look and equip them with items which alters their skills.

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Yes folks, that is Darth Vader!
One of the most startling revelations about Soul Calibur IV though is that the game will link into the Star Wars universe! That's right, the Playstation 3 game will include Darth Vader as a playable character (XBox 360 owners get Yoda). From the videos we've seen Darth Vader looks absolutely wonderful with his light saber the perfect weapon to use in hand-to-hand combat.

The game will include a couple of other new bonus characters - characters that have been designed by guests. These characters including Angol Fear who was designed by artist Mine Yoshizaki, Scheherazad who was created by Yutaka Izubuchi and Hilde who, while we don't know the artist, is fighting to rid her land of the villainous Nightmare, she seeks the sword of resurrection, Soulcalibur to bring back the mighty king that once brought the world to peace.

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Mitsurugi is looking bad-ass!
What about returning favourites? Well pretty much everyone from previous games is returning including (in alphabetical order) Amy, Astaroth, Cassandra, Cervantes, Ivy, Kilik, Lizardman, Maxi, Mitsurugi, Nightmare, Raphael, Rock, Seong Mi-na, Siegfried, Sophitia, Taki, Talim, Tira, Voldo, Xianghua, Yoshimitsu, Yun-seong, and Zasalamel. I would, though, love to see some of my other favourites return including Hwang, Inferno and Berserker as either playable, or even non-playable characters. Who knows, the developers may still surprise..

While nothing has been confirmed, or even hinted at, I would be somewhat surprised, and disappointed, if Bandai Namco didn't allow PS3 owners to play as Yoda, and XBox 360 owners to play as Darth Vader. Hell, the thought of a Vader vs Yoda fight simply has us drooling. Perhaps the characters will be unlockable, or downloadable, at a later date, but we'll have to wait to see.

For the first time in the series the developers are including online gameplay. While lag is always an issue a fast connection being a one-on-one game it should, at the very least be quite playable. Bandai Namco have confirmed that the online modes will include multiple versus modes, details of which are under wraps, as well as a full ranking system.

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Note the gorgeous (720p) effect as the blade moves.
Graphics in Soul Calibur IV really are spectacular. Running at 720p this game promises to push the series to new levels. Characters are superbly detailed and the backgrounds look wonderful. What you can't see from these still images though is the stunning fluidity of the game when in motion. It moves fast, it has some great effects, and some jaw dropping moves.

In terms of audio Australian gamers may be pleased to hear that the orchestral music was recorded at Trackdown Studios in Sydney by the 39-piece Eminence Orchestra. In all they recorded around 15-20 minutes of music for the game, with the developers set to blend this with electronically recorded music as well.

With a release date set for mid-2008 there isn't too much longer to wait until Soul Calibur IV hits shelves. If it manages to combine next-gen graphics with a tonne of game modes and gameplay options then this is certain to be a hit upon release. This is certain to be one of the big games of 2008, pencil July 31st in folks...