296w ago - We recently sat down with the Soul Calibur IV development team, had a chat about the game, and discovered that its main programmer has been with the team since the very first game, allaying any fears we may have had about whether the latest game in the series was in good hands.
We spoke at length about how the new game will compare to the team's previous efforts such as Soul Calibur III -- which while popular, was generally received as an unbalanced effort -- and what players can look forward to as we learn more about IV leading up to its release next year.
1UP: Can you tell us about SCIV's play style? Is it more like Soul Calibur III's design, or back to the old-school, hardcore mechanics of SCII?
Katsutoshi Sasaki, director: We have returned to the design flow of SCII. SCII is the most popular and well-known, so we returned to that style here.
1UP: What's going on with SCIV's storyline now?
KS: Nightmare and Siegfried play a key role in the story this time. Both characters have absorbed the power of their blades, Soul Calibur and Soul Edge, so they're near their final forms. The spotlight is on these two characters.
1UP: How are you using the 360 and PS3's technology to enhance SCIV in ways you couldn't do before?
KS: [Pointing to a TV monitor] As you can see from this stage, you have an open terrace, and you can see the shadows from above cast on the stage and characters as they fight. We will have HDR and flare lighting, as well as tone mapping, so the overall look of the stage will be quite different as the game nears completion. Another thing that's changed from SCIII is that game the stages were more closed, but now we've opened up the stages a bit.
1UP: Ivy seems...uh...healthier than before. Who super-sized her Happy Meal?
KS: Of course, Ivy stands out. A lot of attention has been paid to the character designs. We've done a lot of stuff with the high specs of the next-gen platforms. For example, with Ivy you can see how her clothing presses against her skin, which really shows off the details.
1UP: Which of the original characters return? It's not like you guys to remove characters, so can we assume everyone comes back?
KS: The most popular characters like Ivy, Seigfried, Nightmare, and Mitsurugi return, but we can't say much about the rest of the characters yet... We don't want to let anyone down, though. We want to include as many as possible.
1UP: Tira was a surprising character addition, considering that she looked like she got jumped in an alley, what with her costume being all torn up. Have you changed her for SCIV?
Daishi Odashima, game director: Regarding Tira, before she had that green-based costume in SCIII, Now, she sports a red costume, and this reflects her split personality. This time, she's a bit more evil, and that really comes out in her character.
1UP: Are you adding any interactive, destructible elements to the game?
DO: There may have been a similar stage in SCIII, but this time there are carousel figures moving around the edge. If you character bumps into one of these, it will be destroyed, but you'll bounce back into the stage.
1UP: The lighting seems much more dramatic now -- a lot more high-contrast than before.
DO: We're focusing on light and darkness in the stages, trying to use that more effectively. The game's less than half done, so expect it to look far more spectacular when it's finished.
1UP: Will you totally tweak everyone's move lists, like you did with the eventual arcade release of Soul Calibur III, which benefited from the balancing you did on the console versions? Some people thought Sophitia was too powerful in the PS2 version, for example.
DO: At this point, we can't say much about if we'll drastically change any character's move sets.
1UP: Is developing for two platforms simultaneously hampering your abilities to maximize the performance of the game in any way, or are you able to squeeze everything you need out of them?
KS: In developing for the PS3 and 360, they're both very powerful platforms. And the time and effort required to develop the graphics requires a lot more time, money, and energy. The Calibur team always tries to put out something that's better than the last project, so we're always trying to improve our next game. These new consoles have so many abilities, so it's hard to scale back our ambitions and get it done in time.
Masaaki Hoshino, lead programmer: Also, since this game engine is multiplatform, we've actually had experience with that 'problem' working on SCII for GC, XB, and PS2. But it's still a challenge to develop resources that can easily be ported between these two consoles and have the same level of quality.
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