SoulCalibur V is a good game. The fighting is tight, fast, and beautiful to look at, the smoothest slice of one-on-one weapon fighting that Namco’s made since 2003’s SoulCalibur II.
There’s a problem though. It’s missing parts. Whole characters with distinct fighting styles from previous entries are gone. Some classic fighters, once unlocked through the game’s single player modes, are stripped of their signature weapons and turned shuffled golems like Edge Master. Who would do that to Kilik and Sophitia!? Worse still, rather than the lengthy action role-playing single player modes of classic SoulCalibur, this game has a bizarre story mode that follows just two new characters, Pyrhha and Patroklos, the whiniest brother and sister in gaming history.
Turns out this wasn’t always the plan. SoulCalibur V producer Daishi Odashima told Train2Game (via Kotaku) in an interview that the team was building a fuller solo mode for the game. “Our first plan on the storyboard was that we had every character’s story, and actually we do have it in the studio, but time-wise, man-power-wise we weren’t able to do it and only one fourth of what we planned to do is in the game.”
Straight from the producer himself: SoulCalibur V released with just a quarter of the single-player content it was supposed to have.
That is heartbreaking. Where many franchises suffer from an overabundance of alternative modes and mini-games as more sequels release, SoulCalibur has been shedding features with each successive entry. Not only have full stories for characters been yanked out, but quest modes like SoulCalibur II’s Weapons Master have disappeared as well. Project Soul, the team behind the series, has also taken out great competitive modes like Team Battle, where each player selected eight fighters and set them against each other in a seamlessly tournament.
What have these features been replaced by? A character creation mode that lets you live the dream of having Lady Gaga fight Voldo and online fights.
It’s not as though players don’t want this content in their fighting games. 2011’s Mortal Kombat is a perfect example. That game had not one but two substantial single-player modes. The story mode was not only long and well-written–by self-aware schlock standards at least–but a competent trainer that taught players how to use most of the game’s characters. It was complimented nicely by Challenge Tower, a series of 300 funny and difficult missions to plow through. If Namco needs proof that it was worth investing in the difficult creation of these modes, just look at Kombat‘s 3 million sales in its first six months.
You are missed, classic SoulCalibur.