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Lawrence Review: Soul Calibur IV

Dan Ryckert reports:

''A very large percentage of my life between 1999 and 2003 was occupied by the original Soul Calibur for the Dreamcast. I've always enjoyed the Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Tekken series, but Namco's weapons-based fighter was the first one to make me cross the line into obsession. It featured perfect controls, beautiful graphics, stunning gameplay, and could be equally enjoyed by seasoned veterans or new players who simply mashed buttons (Maxi players, I'm looking at you). Soul Calibur II was a bit of a disappointment with some odd guest characters, and Soul Calibur III was better in the gameplay department but featured some uninspired stages and an awful single-player mode. Now, the acclaimed series makes its current-gen debut with Soul Calibur IV, the first in the series to feature online play and the best since the original.

SCIV features a robust cast of fighters, each with distinctly different fighting styles, strengths, and weaknesses. Even the similar characters (Kilik/Seung-Mina, Astaroth/Rock, Sophitia/Lizardman) are differentiated enough to avoid repetition. Some characters that were unstoppable in previous versions have been taken down a notch, specifically Mitsurugi. He's still a potent fighter, but nowhere near as devastating as he was in previous installments. Kilik is still a great character for both veterans and new players, while more advanced characters like Zasalamel or The Apprentice will take a little more time in Practice mode.''

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