A diary of sorts, wherein I moonlight as a games writer. Under haphazard construction.
Fighting Alone: Soul Calibur: Lost Swords
So the next Soul Calibur game’s singleplayer only and free-to-play, huh? Gotta say I’m actually rather excited.
I’ve never really played fighting games with other people much, so having a solid Arcade mode and then plenty to do once you’ve finished it as every character has always been really important to me.
I absolutely loved the oddball adventure modes of Soul Calibur 2 and 3, which combined with the branching Arcade stories kept me playing long after I’d have otherwise gotten bored. Unlocking characters one by one? Alternate weapons with unique stats? Hidden character customisation pieces? Hell yes. Besides the hidden characters and alternate story endings in Guilty Gear X2 you even had EX and SP versions of each character to unlock through the Survival Mode, offering both subtly and vastly different stats and movesets for every member of the cast. Getting them for your strongest characters was relatively easy, but unlocking all of them? You’d need to practice.
I know there’s a greater demand these days for games to give you everything outright, so you can play with all their toys right off the bat, but I miss the sense of progress in fighting games. Tekken, Kensei, Bloody Roar and other games of that age would make you play with all the base characters to unlock the secret ones, slowly revealing the complete picture of their overlapping stories and relationships along the way. It gave you a reason to play characters you normally wouldn’t have cared about in order to complete everything. Fighting games haven’t completely abandoned the singleplayer stuff, and unlocking endings is still a thing, but it feels like there’s so much more of a focus on things like the training modes, scoreboards and online competitive play. All the stuff I don’t really care about, really.
Despite all the interesting character creation guff, Soul Calibur 5 was a massive disappointment compared to the old games. While the actual game mechanics might be the most polished and balanced yet, a really short story mode with fixed characters for each fight, only 5-stages in arcade mode with no plot development at all and no other special stuff besides a boss-rush mode just isn’t what I expect from the series. Even when I did try to venture online I couldn’t find any matches.
Hopefully Lost Swords isn’t gonna lay the free-to-play crap on too heavy, because there’s a lot of potential there. It feels a bit like the cuttings from Soul Calibur 5’s development could be being sold back to us bit by bit, but maybe I’m just being cynical. If they have avoided that, though, and have managed to recapture the spirit of the old games’ extra modes, I’ll be seriously happy.