Having played Soul Calibur III on the Playstion 2, I greatly anticipated IV to be so much better, but it was really a step down. Soul Calibur IV lacks the good storyline which III had, better game modes, and the Class system Soul Calibur III all provided. However, IV makes up by giving online play with ranked battles and a whole bunch of other things.
Soul Calibur IV's storyline is..... meh. You start by selecting a character and then reading a few paragraphs of the character's backstory and then you fight a few battles and then it's over. You can pretty much finish the story mode in a 5 minute snack break. Still, IV was never known for it's story now was it?
In the past years there's been many Fighting games---Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Virtua Fighter to name a few. However, the Soul Calibur series has always been my favorite of the fighting genre mostly for it's gameplay (and storyline) it offers. Gameplay is obviously the strongest attribute of a fighting game. Soul Calibur IV is very similar to other fighting games, using the formula of timers, combo attacks, health bars, etc. Almost all of the characters made a come back from the previous titles. Different characters have different moves and abilities, some are overpowered and some are underpowered. Both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3's versions are pretty much the same in terms of graphics and content. Except a few characters added added to the roster like the Xbox 360 exclusive character, Yoda and the PlayStation 3 exclusive Darth Vader. For money-making reasons Namco decided to allow Xbox owners download Darth Vader for a few extra bucks and Yoda for the PlayStation 3. Another character from the Star Wars universe showed it's face in IV, The Secret Apprentice of Darth Vader.
Character customization was in Soul Calibur III, but now Namco 'improved' it with more hairstyles, equipment, and instead using the class system using the fighting style's of the characters that already exist, like Kilik and Nightmare. So when you make a character in the customization mode your making a Nightmare cloned character with different armor? But hear me out, the character customization is still pretty good in IV it's probably even a little bit better. Just a little. :)
Now your probably wondering if Soul Calibur IV has any lag during online play, for me there wasn't any at all. Online play is epic. You can play 'ranked' battles or non ranked battles. Ranked battles will record your wins, loses, level, and points you receive when playing with other people online. For those of you that are interested, you trophy-hunters. Soul Calibur IV does not have trophy support sadly.
The game modes are pretty identical to the previous installment. I really didn't check to see what modes were added, but I know that some were.