So, I’m in on this. Because I love fighting games and there’s not enough of them for me to be able to be fussy about which ones I play on, and each scene is so fragmented and isolated already that it’s not helping any of us moaning about how X Game isn’t as good as Favourite Game. So I’m in on Soul Calibur IV. Specifically, I’m in on Taki. And maybe that broad with the sword and big pole, because I like her lips. Liking a character’s lips is an excellent reason to choose that character, though staying with them over many many hours will require something more substantial. And also, the fuckers might change her lips in the next iteration, so don’t get too attached, a’ight? And also, it means you can’t customise their face too much. Which will be heartbreaking if I find out later on that she has a full-head mask that makes her look like a lion, or a neon yellow Ryu mask. But this is just the kind of everyday pain one endures when playing fighting games, and a warrior should be able to ride through it. Also, the game is fucking hideously beautiful on my TV.
I’ve only really spent an evening on it so far, but so far the most apparent thing to me is the stilted flow of the game. I don’t get it, I have to say. The motions with the stick that you need to perform and the general rhythm of the button-striking is at odds with what I’m used to. That’s not to say it’s wrong - I just need to adjust - but for now, I don’t get it. The moves feel like they’re ending sooner than they are, so when I hit the button for the next move, nothing comes out. Maybe the buffer period for the next move is much shorter than I’m used to, especially when so many of the moves are quite slow and I mostly play Virtua Fighter and Street Fighter. I can’t tell yet. But I do know that it feels counter-intuitive, according to the rules of fighting games as I understand them. Which makes it hard to put together a game plan up close, which is where I like to fight. The game seems to favour a stand-off, with some rushing in and then a knock down, repeat. I’m almost definitely wrong, since how the fuck can a fighting game be built around that principle? So I’ll persevere.
And the eight-way run seems odd to me too, though I’ll put this down to not playing a Soul Calibur game since the first one. Again, with the eight-way run and the way the game changes what moves you activate if you hold the stick for an incredibly short amount of time before pressing a button, and the way that some moves cover loads of horizontal space and some hardly any, it seems the combat is skewed towards staying at distance and rushing in for a knock down. Which isn’t a particularly appealing way to play over any half-decent period of time, but would explain why so many journalists (four hours to play!) are loving it. I’m hoping more compelling options will reveal themselves over time, but with a lack of decent human opposition in my life and perhaps the most terrible AI of all time (though to be fair, who gives a shit about AI in a fighting game), I might never discover them.
WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO THE VOICE ACTING? Oh my DAYS, this is the worst voice acting of all time. Taki has degenerated throughout the series from a super badass ninja to what is now a whining yank brat. If it wasn’t so pretty, why I’d… I should head into the options I suppose and see if I can turn that shit off.
Yoda and Darth Vader can fuck off. The worst idea in any videogame ever.
So I guess I’m finishing on a low. Which is how my Soul Calibur session ended. And it probably didn’t help that I played the original on XBLA recently, which is when the series peaked, sadly. Still, I’ll persevere. And I don’t even mind the ludicrously inflated review scores appearing everywhere (as they’ve always done for the Soul Calibur games), since like I said before - fighting games need all the help they can get.