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Soul Calibur IV

Squaring up to DOA in erm, every way

Before you notice the subtle parry system, the complex moveset, the precise level design, the delicate character balance and the accessible but deep mechanics, you notice the gigantic effin' boobs.

Soul Calibur IV marks the debut of the series on now-gen consoles - that means high-def visuals, sharper textures and more polygons... and more polygons apparently means preposterous norks. It's all gone a bit Dead or Alive, with the female cast receiving hugely exploitative 'upgrades' in the bosom region, while the men and monsters have had armour overhauls. Nightmare has managed to misplace his entire mid-section and Siegfried dresses in an armour of crystal and glass.
It's early days for the game, but already Mitsurgi, Yoshimitsu and Sophitia are confirmed to be joining the boob squad, Siegfried and lightning-for-a-belly man.

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Namco also promise newcomers and a guest character, similar to Spawn, Link and Heihachi from the console versions of Soul Calibur 2. If you're still not satisfied, Soul Calibur 3's customisation mode is back with more of everything you'll need to build your own fighters.

Cutting edge
Character creation aside, Soul Calibur 3 was the series' sole misstep, looking slightly dated on the PS2 and featuring a raft of overpowered characters. Balance is high on the agenda for IV: SC3 was updated and 'fixed' in the later arcade version and it's that game SCIV uses as its base. New consoles mean the addition of online combat, and SCIV runs at 60 frames per second with all kinds of graphical trickery. Costumes sway and stretch, and Ivy's bondage gear includes leather straps that leave real-time indentations on her thighs. Crumbs.

Even more exciting than real-time chafing, there are new ways to defeat opponents besides depleting their energy bar or scoring a ring-out. Stages have more interactive objects, including ones that obstruct ejection from the arena until they're destroyed, likely by kicking your foe's head through it.

While Virtua Fighter 5 presents a terrifying prospect to newbies, Soul Calibur welcomes you in with a cuddle. It's a long way off, but SCIV could be the ideal jumping-on point for everyone who's missed out on 3D scrappers.

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