Ok, here's the deal: I suck at fighting games. Like tushie handed to me wrapped in puff-pastries kind of suck. That makes them not fun to play for me, when my opponent is some Know the Uber Throw Back-breaker Spleen Removal from Across the Room Without Touching Me button combo (you'd think I'm exaggerating, but no).
That said, I sooo dig the SoulCalibur franchise. From the beloved DreamCast console series intro (RI.P., Little Rockin' Console that was Better than Those that Bettered It), to the platform-differentiated sequel with adventuring / questing mode, and Spawn on the Xbox version and Link on the GameCube (both versions are playable on their console successors), to the arguably skippable third, platform limited incarnation -- I jones for the next version.
So I snagged SoulCalibur IV the day it came out, playing 'til like four in the morning. Yes, that's good.
Near-controller throwing moments aside, this so scratches whatever itch the franchise exposes.
(Oh, it's not the cheesecake itch; if that's your thing, the DOA franchise may be more your thing)
The game is polished, fun, and contains the right amount of borderline engrish cheesiness to make it a fun and challenging romp.
Contrary to online complaints about the button-mashing nature of SC, I actually found myself figuring out (and getting fairly facile with) the controls pretty quickly.
Part of the SoulCalibur trope is its variety, and part and parcel to that are its balance challenges.
(And by "variety", I don't mean Freudian Therapist Wet Dream Voldo; WTF?).
(But back to balance.)
I fired up the Story mode with Kilik (probably the industry's derided nube choice) on normal, and sailed through the five stages (you can play through slight variants of the story with all characters).
I then shifted to Yoda (the 360 exclusive character) on the hard setting -- and sailed through again. But keep in mind Yoda's the lightsaber-equipped equivalent of an Ankle Biter. (And do yourself a favor and don't skip the intro text explaining Yoda's "reason" for being involved in the quest for the swords; hilarious, and I can't believe it passed LucasArts' gates for faithful treatment of the license).
Then I continued on hard with Mitsurugi and sailed through - the first half. Then a freaking hour (or more) on the latter part. Freaking cheap shots.
And I'm back for more. I need to tool through story mode with everyone, run through Arcade mode a few times, buy a bunch of museum loot (concept art, renders, etc.), and check out the online scene.
I expect to get my tushie handed to me wrapped in puff-pastries.