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Soul Calibur IV Observations

After a lot of multiplayer online matches in Soul Calibur IV, I just made some observations:

- Siegfried is incredibly strong. Not undefeatable but he's quite tough to fight. Some of his strings can be walked around (simply press diagonal up or diagonal down to walk sideways-forward) but you have a really brief moment before he can hit you again. You have to be very, very quick.

- Characters with long weapons seem to be quite vulnerable the moment a character with a short weapon gets in close. A good player will keep the proper distance if another player is trying to gain position. At first I thought this was a game balance issue; then I realized it's pretty balanced if the player with the smaller weapon knows what he's doing.

-It's interesting how the game prevents ring out in some cases; at first it seems weird and unnatural but after a few matches I realized it gives the other player 'another chance' if he gets tossed near the edge. It seems ring out is only possible if you're both on the edge fighting. If you're far from the edge, and then you get tossed out, you won't ring out even if it looks like you should (there's some kind invisible wall that prevents it; that 'wall' disappears once you're both very near the edge. That's the time you should be careful). It's good to keep this in mind....

- I love how I can switch characters in this game. In VF5 I was dedicated to just one character, in Soul Calibur I have a tough time picking a favorite because they're all so playable. I've spent the most time with Yun Seong but every so often Sophitia and Cervantes are good choices :) For some reason I find it more entertaining to pick the guys with the medium-range weapons and not the guys with the gigantic swords. I dunno, the guys with mid-range swords just have more entertaining combinations....

- Yoda and the Apprentice may seem overpowered, but they aren't. In fact I realized that Yoda seems to strike quite weakly compared to the others; he's just hard to hit since he's so short, and he has a very short recovery time when he strikes, which lets him have a lot of options. The Apprentice is quite strong but his weapon is mid-range; he's just as strong as the other mid-range characters and doesn't seem overpowered, too.

I have to admit, the Apprentice's force attacks look really, really cool :D

- This is the first fighting game that I've ever played with online speed that feels practically perfect, and lets in two more spectators, too. (4 players per match). I can imagine one issue that some players will complain about is the limited number of players per match, but I see it as a good thing because it really lessens the lag if there are only 4 players in each session. There might be a way for Namco to increase players, but I gotta say, I'm real happy with the way it is now. I hope future fighting games from Namco will be able to accomplish what Soul Calibur IV accomplished.

And I wish Namco-Bandai would share their fantastic net-code with Sega (VF5R) and Capcom (Street Fighter IV). I'm amazed that a Japanese game company finally got online play right this time. Most other games made in Japan don't have a well done Online mode; SCIV is the exception, and I hope it's a good beginning for future online capabilities in Japanese-made titles. Soul Calibur 4 just set a new standard for the quality of the online mode in a fighting game.

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