Today I remembered the website WebArchive and as a fun little endeavor, went to see if any pre-Nitrobeard work from the gang existed. Luckily, I found this gem featuring myself and Nitrobeard co-founder Tyler Ohlew circa 2008, when we were freelancing for a website called Oranjive. This article, and No Quarter Radio Episode 10 (which sadly no longer exists) with the one and only Brian Belida, led to the creation of Nitrobeard. We were so cute back then!
Wes: Hey, fancy meeting you here, scrubsauce! Here to talk about Soul Calibur IV?
Tyler: Oh no, sorry. I'm not really familiar with this “Soul Calibur IV.” I was hoping you wanted to talk about Soulcalibur IV, you know, that recently released 3D-fighting game. Did Namco's sudden and nonsensical change of heart concerning the franchises name catch you off guard ? Maybe next time you won't call me sauceyscrub or whatever.
Wes: I'll call you what I damn well please! Actually, yeah, the name thing is pretty goofy. Well then, what's your credentials? Eh, Scrubs McFizzlebeef? Are you a master with Ivy's stances? Do you know of Voldo's ultimate combos? Do you think Kilik's still overpowered as hell? Do you even know what I'm talking about?
Tyler: Sorry, I think you're mistaking me for someone who's actually capable of understanding the complexities of the fighting genre. On one end of the spectrum is you, a seasoned vet who knows the difference between a hadouken and a Johnny Cage. I'm sure somewhere in your closet lies a locked case crammed full of Chun-Li and Ivy fan-fic. And then there's me, a poor soul who missed every iteration of Street Fighter beyond number two, and considers Super Smash Bros. Brawl the closest he's been to a fighting game since then.
Wes: Oh, this should be fun, then. Also, the Ivy/Chun-Li story is filled with proper intrigue and legitimate storytelling devices! How dare you! I CHALLENGE YOU! TO A SOUL CALIBUR IV REVIEW!
Tyler: I accept your challenge, simpleton. But I must warn you, I have no muscles.
Wes: BY THE SPIRITS OF THE BLADE, TWO WARRIORS TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY AND okay, actually, I'm going to stop talking like that.
Tyler: It's funny, considering how this is the first hardcore fighting game I've played in years, I'm surprised by how quickly I breezed through the majority of the single player modes. The unlimited continues in Story and Arcade mode didn't hurt, as were this game to be in an arcade, I would've spent enough money trying to unlock the Apprentice character that buying Star Wars: The Force Unleashed would've been a cheaper method. Let's not mince words, while the game can be difficult, you don't encounter many matches before the Namco credits begin to roll. Luckily, your reward for playing through the Arcade mode is quite substantial, on one play through you'll earn more than enough dough to unlock the majority of the game's cast. And for anyone who's wrapped up in Mortal Kombat's constantly evolving narrative, Soulcalibur 4 has just the tale for you. As for everyone else, just jam on every button available to you whenever a wall of text appears. As for the spoken dialogue, it's best to switch it over to Japanese. I'm not one of those "It's purest to Takagi-san's vision!" kind of people, but at you can pretend that what these characters are saying is cool.
Wes: See, I think my favorite part of single player was when you could beat the Story mode in roughly 35 seconds. The game still feels very 'home version' in difficulty, as you can simply breeze through the Story and Arcade mode on Normal. On Hard, though? It's a pretty decent challenge. Great Guard Impact practice. I'll agree with the cashflow, as it feels like a constant reward, much like Burnout. So what if the player isn't the best with a certain character? Let's give them enough money to unlock someone they may click with. It's smart design, and I'm glad they put it in there. What did you think of the Tower of Lost Souls?
Tyler: Outside of negating the thrilling narrative of Story mode (three warriors, who otherwise thirst for eachothers blood, take turns pummeling me? Where in the Soulcalibur canon did this happen?), it is a decent surprise. The challenge comes in maintaining a single life bar fight after fight, and then finally attempting to overcome someone with double the normal health. This is the real meat and potatoes of the game's single player mode. If you ascend the Tower, you'll fight a few dudes and earn some presents if you fulfill the "secret" missions. Descending the tower is a lot like the Pit of Trials in Super Paper Mario. Unlike the ascension, there's no pit stops. You have one healthbar, and it's basically an endurance test. Both versions of the tower are great ways to earn bonuses for the eventual tweaking of your characters.
Wes: I loved the difficulty ramp. I wont lie, I've had my ass handed to me MANY times in that damned Tower, but i've taken that experience over to the online play, and it's come in very handy. You fight a mix of characters, in a great variety of situations, so it really hones your skill under certain cirumstances. Your enemy is able to recharge health, you say? Better learn those combos. It works very similar to the 'Madden Challenge' scenarios, actually.
Tyler: As much as this is billed as a Versus match, we're agreeing on far too much. I'd love to contest you for argument's sake, but I just can't. The Tower is a great training ground, as it provides a lot more difficulty that you won't find in the other single player modes. As far as preparing me for online, I'm not sure anything could prepare me for the whooping I'd endure at the hands of children around the world.
Wes: Ah, the racial bigotry knows no bounds with the children. So, speaking of, how's the online play on the PS3 version? XBox 360 is a mixed bag, I've had some absolutely flawless games, but I've also run into games with nearly five second lag. It's the nature of the beast, I suppose.
Tyler: I've only really come across lag when I'm waiting around and watching someone else's match. And even then I'm playing wirelessly with my laptop and another computer using the same connection. In the online matches I've had, I've never encountered much lag. I'd love to blame my loses on it, but I'm really just that awful. I find that as a more casual player, it's best to stick to the Standard Versus online mode, as it doesn't allow players to bring along their tweaked out custom fighters. You can still have them be all goofy looking, but they don't bring along the attributes of their new armour and weapons. As much as I tend to think of unranked play as a haven for people like me, I found it much easier to find matches that way. You're provided with a lot more games to join in the ranked mode, and I can usually find someone close to my level that way anyways. As for Quick Play, the game could never provide me with a match, which struck me as odd. If you do venture into the Special Versus mode, be prepared to face off against some truly gifted people. Even though victory slipped through my fingers on many occassions, I still had a ton of fun, which is most important. If I can have a good time playing folks who've been fans since the Soul Edge days, anyone can.
Wes: I agree, online's very tiered, but anyone can hop in and enjoy. Saying that, though, Yoda's a toolbag. You can't throw him? C'mon now. Why include a character in a game if he's immune to a key tactic? That's like saying that this car in Gran Turismo is rocket-propelled and never goes off-track. It's unncesseary and adds challenge that shouldn't be there. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Star Wars fan, but including the characters in this was grasping for straws. People that use Yoda online strike me as people that are scared to lose, so I hardly try on those matches. They're the same people that use Oddjob in Goldeneye.
Tyler: Since I'm not the most proficient guy with fighters, the issue of character balance is one that I won't have a better understanding of until a few months down the road. But I have given each character their fair shake, and I have to say that while I prefer some and not others, I never felt any deficiencies with any particular fighter. The inclusion of Force Powers and a specific gauge for pulling them off is pretty odd, but like anything else, they cannot be abused. As far as Vader goes, he's pretty fun. He's pretty slow, and his more powerful moves take a bit to pull off, but he does make sense as a fighter within the game. As a character, he is a bit screwy in the Soulcalibur universe, but he's certainly no Necrid.
Wes: Right, right. The nightmares of Necrid are coming back now, ass. Thanks Todd McFarlene! When you're not learning the ropes with the default crew, what's your take on the Create A Fighter?
Tyler: I was surprised by how deep it was, actually. You can really let your imagination go wild, but to create a good fighter, you have to limit yourself from recreating the skimpier outfits of other fighters. It was cool to be able to fiddle around with your characters stats, and I hope that there's no winning combination out there for insta-win characters. What's funny is that these custom fighters will look more like characters ripped from a Mortal Kombat clone than a combatant within Soulcalibur.
Wes: I think the Create A Fighter is a huge step up from Soul Calibur III, and I couldn't be happier with it. I still think that the decision to tie your character's movelist with the weapon they equip is a smart one, as it rewards dedicated play with a single character.
Tyler It's great fun to play dress-up with your favourite character, it's not just all about creating a whole new character from scratch.
Wes: Right, and the skills aid the creation process tenfold. I adore the skills, however before too long, I'm absolutely sure that we'll have a GameFAQs guide on how you can make Mitsirugi invincible, or make Yoshimitsu even harder to hit. I love it for it's Call of Duty 4 'level up' nature, but yeah, giving health back, or poisoning other people really changes the dynamics of the fights.
Tyler: That is a worry, but of course there still remains the Standard Versus mode for online play. If in a few months things start to get hairy with unbeatable Ivy's stomping everybody out, there's a viable retreat. Although, no matter where you go the shrieks of loud mouths and idiots will always follow you online. Luckily for PS3 owners, it's pretty rare for someone else to have a mic. This is one of the few times I've adored that fact.
Wes: I can imagine. Nothing makes my heart flutter like hearing twelve year olds scream profanities at me, while I weep on the inside. Okay, so, here it is. For all the marbles. Your finishing blow! UNLEASH YOUR INNER STRENGTH, LETTING THE SOUL BURN WITH THE FURY OF A THOU-okay, I can't talk like that, seriously. What's your final take on the game? Yay or nay?
Tyler: I've really found a great game with Soulcalibur IV, and I'd definitely recommend it to someone who's not at all familiar with the genre. It's really easy to get into, and the various single player modes ease the player into the game. In time I can see myself pulling off those ultimate combos of Voldo's you spoke so fondly of. But even if I don't I know that I can have more than enough fun with SCIV. And with a bevy of unlockables, I know I can have at it for quite some time.
Wes: I think Soul Calibur IV is the best 3D fighting game ever released, honestly. I'm a huge Street Fighter fan, I've played tons of Tekken, Virtua Fighter, and the like, but they have their work cut out for them. Removable armor, create-a-fighter, ranked online play, leaderboards, a fully featured practice mode for frame counting, gorgeous visuals, and silky-smooth controls make this one a winner on all fronts. Gah, this whole versus idea didn't work out as well as I thought, we're agreeing too much.
Tyler: You say that now, but when I'm through with you, you'll wish I would "Ring Out" you in real life. Right off a damn cliff.
Wes: How dare you. I'm calling my lawyer.