The Soul Still Burns

After crushing the very awesome game God of War II (deserves it’s own post), as sort of an impulse buy I went out and picked up Soul Caliber IV for the PS 3. The reason I got this? I enjoyed playing Soul Caliber 2 with friends on the Xbox, it got good reviews, and it was $10 off at Fry’s!

The one thing I forgot is I really only enjoy fighting games when playing with friends. Especially, if those friends are as awesome at fighting games as I am. AKA Button Mashers!

So while I played through the story mode a couple times once with Mitsurugi, and another time as Darth Vader I grew bored of Soul Caliber IV. I might pick it up and play a round here and there but sadly I don’t see myself ever actually managing to learn all the combos/moves for any character. I’m also not obsessive compulsive enough to go try and unlock all the little sub features. I wish games came with everything already available. I guess if that was the case you’d have nothing to do.

Though my lack of enthusiasm doesn’t mean Soul Caliber IV is a lousy game. In fact it’s a fairly enjoyable iteration of a fun fighting game series. It just lacks the key things I’m looking for in a single player game which is a great plot, combined with smooth gameplay to tell a story I get to participate in. While the fights are fairly fun, they’re about 40 seconds long and the plot is at best “weak”.

I guess you can count the little text scroll before story mode as plot. They did have Darth Vader travel from another dimension to collect the Soul Edge and Soul Caliber for terrorizing the Empire, but this tenuous story needs more Grand Admiral Thrawn to really shine (See Tie Fighter for best Starwars game ever).

Next on my list of games to pick up is SPORE. This game will either be a fun sandbox (I know no plot) or is totally over hyped and will suck. I’m totally looking forward to how they captured a few different game play styles in a single game so perhaps it will keep my attention.

Video Game First Impressions

Today two tidbits of videogame fun were released.  Blizzard released the opening cinemetic of their new World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King expansion, and LucasArts released their demo of “The Force Unleashed.”

Sadly neither of these exactly lived up to my expectations. On the WoW front the movie was sort of lame. They show a glacier, Arthas walks around in the snow, smashes the ground and raises an icewyrm. Whoop dee do. Sadly it made me less excited about the expansion than I was before.

Perhaps it’s just my time away from WoW and enjoying other stuff that has me bored with everything WoW. In fact I’m much more looking forward to Starcraft II and Diablo III than the new WoW Expansion.

As for the new LucasArts game I’ve been really looking forward to The Force Unleashed. This game sort of looks like the successor to the Jedi Knight series, and I’ve been waiting for a good lightsaber romp since Jedi Outcast. Sadly this game might not deliver.

The game is set just before “Star Wars: A New Hope” and you play Darth Vader’s secret apprentice who helps hunt down the Jedi. So far so good but there are a couple issues, firstly LucasArts in their genius have decided to NOT release a PC port of this game. Instead since it’s “really detailed” it seems that PCs are too weak to process all the graphics/physics. So this game will only be released on PS3, PS2, Xbox360, Wii, PSP, Nintendo DS, iPhone and some other cellphones etc.

Guess what? I think my PC can handle it. I think LucasArts has decided that the market for PC games isn’t big enough to warrant the port, or their afraid of piracy. Sadly while the game concept is cool it just doesn’t seem to fit well on a console. The controls are a bit convoluted and in my opinion poorly done.

Playing the demo I had problem controlling the camera even after I changed the default settings so that the x axis was properly reversed. It seems that the camera doesn’t stick very well to your character and I often found myself trying to kill a guy who was out of my view. Sure you can rotate the camera but it would be nice if it followed you a bit more tightly by default. Like with every other good 3rd person game (Ninja Gaiden, Uncharted, Splinter Cell etc.)

It’s also a bit disappointing since in the demo at least you don’t have any LONG ranged attacks except throwing stuff at people. This is sort of cool at first but as far as I could tell you couldn’t easily change what you were targeting with your force power. So when you’re trying to hit some Stormtroopers it can be hard to pick up the right box so you can toss it. I often ended up grabbing random crap and missing since the item was blocked by other boxes. They really need a way to toggle through force targets in your LOS without having to shift your camera/move about.

My only other real complaint about the demo besides the clunky controls is that the lightsaber fighting isn’t very satisfying. In fact it can take 3-4 or more chops with your lightsaber to kill a Stormtooper, and more sometimes to kill some random unarmored guy. Unlike Jedi Outcast where at least you could chop off some limbs while swinging the saber this game lets you hit a few times then the guy disappears. So the lightsaber combat just doesn’t feel like real Jedi lightsaber combat. In fact Knights of the Old Republic felt much better and it was TURN based combat.

The graphics and sound are pretty good and up to par for a current gen console game. It also looks like the game might have a good story. So despite the flaws in control (it’s not Obi-Wan bad) I’ll probably still pick this game up as I’m always a sucker for anything Star Wars.