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In his Soul Calibur 5 review, Bitmob community member Jeremy Huggard says, "The disappointment of the single-player is a shame, but then who's really buying Soul Calibur 5 for the single-player?"
Not to call out one of our beloved community writers (he's expressing an opinion that many have echoed), but I bought Soul Calibur 5 for the single-player, Jeremy. Well, I mean…I would have if Namco Bandai didn't send a copy of the game to me. Look, the point is that I do care about solo features, and Soul Calibur 5 is terribly lacking in them.
I was initially really looking forward to the title's Story Mode, especially after hearing the newest Mortal Kombat's excellent take on single-player fighting inspired developer Project Soul. Well, Soul Calibur 5's mode is certainly an imitation, but it's a bad one.
First off, static drawings that flash on the screen before and after fights tell most of the "story." It's like reading a comic on your screen…like, a terrible, terrible comic. Sometimes, the game will grace you with a fully rendered scene, but these moments are rare and only make the bland images that fill most of the narrative stick out. The tale also takes only a few hours to complete, which is distressingly short for the main solo component. I honestly beat it in one sitting.
Pictures like this tell most of Soul Calibur 5's story.
Also, while Mortal Kombat let you experience its adventure through the perspective of most of the cast, Soul Calibur 5 forces you to stick with only five, two of which are just variants of fighters you already played. Did you want to battle through quality single-player content with your favorite character? Well, chances are you're out of luck. For example, my series favorite, Yoshimitsu, plays absolutely no part in the tale.
Even the Arcade Mode is bare bones and lacking the small, individual character moments we're used to seeing from the series. Sure, the endings were just a few drawings with captions, but they were something. Now you get nothing. The mode simply ends when you win the final fight. It's as anticlimactic as finishing a steak dinner with a Tic-Tac.
Come on! Even Mortal Kombat's secondary single-player mode, the Challenge Tower, is infinitely more interesting and deep then anything Soul Calibur 5 offers. The weird thing is that a similar concept, where you fought a series of battles with unique conditions, was in Soul Calibur 4. That same exact idea could have gone a long way toward adding some game time for solo fighters.
Honestly, I want to say this title was rushed, but rushed for what? A late January release? Mortal Kombat set the standard and raised expectations for single-player content in fighters while Soul Calibur 5 actually offers less than its predecessor. The game is still Soul Calibur, and while that formula may be getting a bit stale in this fifth installment, the core gameplay is still fun. I'm just disappointed they couldn't offer an entertaining way to explore those mechanics that doesn't involve strangers kicking my ass online.