So I’ve been waiting for SC4 for a while. I’m not expecting much difference from the last iteration, besides the major bug fixes so don’t expect too much for new functions; it’s a fighting game. You can’t really change much without totally revamping the formula and ruining the core game experience (See: Street Fighter EX). But in the spirit of covering all the new stuff, here goes. New things: Destructible armor, Darth Vader, customizable costumes (read: fighting in skivvies and man thongs), and online play. Okay, now that’s over and done with, let me focus on the most important aspect here — ONLINE PLAY.
As of this writing the lag issue is surprisingly very good. I am able to compete fairly well online, moves that require a little bit more precise timing such as guard impacts are not impossible to do, while there is some latency problems that arise, it doesn’t make it unplayable, as matches in Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection sometimes were, although that required a lot more precision than Soul Calibur does, which makes one wonder how Virtua Fighter 5 performs on XBL. Mismatched precision comes with the territory, so don’t get your hopes up for a true one on one experience, but honestly it’s not bad at all.
Your statistics are recorded on the server. It shows a players wins and losses and win percentage. And you’re ranked among other players just as you’d see on any sort of competitive ladder. It’s divided by the two game modes: standard and special. Standard has no special weapon or armor effects. Special mode will allow your weapon and character customization to come to life, allowing your character to drain life, automatically break throws or guard impact, really just minor fun stuff. There is also a choice to play without affecting your record. If you want to specifically match up to play with friends though, your record will not be affected. Generally playing online has been a very good experience. The player matching system doesn’t seem to work all too well, from what I’ve seen so far, the quick matching system almost never gets you into a match, but obviously it does work since I have chosen to host all of my games. The matches are fast and with minimal lag. Most players I’ve played against have had a 3/5 or 5/5 bar of signal. I think that may be attributed to the seemingly large number of players who have decided to pick it up.
And this is what I have to say about the competition I’ve encountered so far: with the new guest characters, we now also have an influx of n00bs people who have no idea now to play, and thus button mash. While one of the major complaints about Tekken, Soul Calibur, DOA or any true 3d fighter is that it’s easy to win by button mashing, I counter by saying you should learn how to play better if you’re getting beaten by a button masher. Any really experienced player will tell you that if you really know how to play you should know how to get around people who don’t know how to play. I can go online and get matched with someone and generally if I see them pick Darth Vader (I got the PS3 version) or the apprentice, I’d say about 98% of the time, the player does not know what he/she is doing. Another notorious button masher character is Maxi or even Raphael, if you see those, be weary, more than likely they’re probably going to be molesting the controller. And while I do encourage people more players to come online, I would also like to see less blaming the game for a player’s lack of skill as I’ve been witnessing on some forums. This is expected when you choose to include two very famous characters from an already extremely popular universe. It also explains why Soul Calibur 2 sold very well for the Gamecube. The guest characters were included to increase sales and it seems to have worked out just as planned. I just wonder how many people are going to give and return or say they’re going to return the game because they keep losing online, Soul Calibur hasn’t exactly been in competitive form since really the first game.