|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Namco Bandai||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct.27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Robert VerBruggen
January 7, 2009 - Once a fighting franchise continues beyond its first few iterations, each entry becomes a balancing act. The series has a solid fan base that expects some things to stay the same (otherwise there'd be no market for another sequel), but that devoted base doesn't want to shell out $60 for the same game, and there's always the desire to lure in more fans. Such is the dilemma facing Tekken 6, already out in Japanese arcades and coming to American consoles in Fall 2009. It will be the first Tekken game to see a release on an Xbox platform in addition to the usual PlayStation one, despite the fact that the arcade machines were based on the PlayStation 3.
Namco Bandai has approached the game with a "more is better" philosophy, keeping most of the features introduced in Tekken 5 and Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection (including online versus, which first appeared in an update of Dark Resurrection), playing up the series' strengths, and slightly tweaking the game mechanics whenever possible. The company even continued the changes past the game's arcade release, adding a second arcade version, Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion. Reports indicate the console version will have even more features. (Official communications from Namco Bandai refer to the new game as Tekken 6, without any subtitle).
Tekken 6 will feature at least 42 characters, the biggest roster ever to inhabit the franchise's world, and at least six will be new. The game's executive producer, Katsuhiro Harada, insisted to PlayStation: The Official Magazine that even with all these fighters, there's no redundancy: "They all are unique, not only in their appearance but their personality and techniques as well. Leo is a Bajiquan practictioner from Germany whose father is a famous spelunker. Zafina is a female character from the Middle East who uses ancient assassination arts. Miguel is a brawler from Spain. Bob is a freestyle karate practitioner from the U.S." You'll be able to adjust these characters' looks far more than in previous Tekken games; you can even change their hairstyles.
There will be a few significant additions to the fighting system. One is Rage Mode, into which your character will enter when his health gets low. As the name would imply, he'll get angry and more powerful, and he'll have a better chance of turning the match around. Another addition is, while the characters won't wield weapons all the time, they will each have "Item Moves." (Bryan Fury's will involve a shotgun). Also, when your opponent slams you down, you won't be able to tech roll. This is called the "Bounce" system, and will enable longer juggles. Fighters will have a little more life to balance out these new ways to inflict damage. In addition, the environments will be bigger and will include multiple tiers and breakable elements.
Graphically, Tekken 6 represents a total overhaul since Tekken 5; not a single animation remains. It is, of course, the first game in the franchise designed from the beginning for high-definition home consoles (Tekken 5 was only for PlayStation 2, though Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection saw a budget-price PS3 release). It's also the debut of the OctaveEngine, a physics simulator promoted for its water, sand, snow, and sky effects. Some stages will transition between day and night, and one of the arenas even has a few inches of water on the ground. OctaveEngine can precisely depict, in real time, how real water and skies would behave under the conditions in the game. In the videos released thus far of the water stage, the waves and splashes look terrific when fighters thrash around, great news considering that while water looked great in games like Bioshock and Half-Life 2, no one has gotten splashes just right before.
In terms of story, Tekken 6 employs a straightforward and time-tested tale: There's a fighting tournament (the "King of Iron Fist Tournament"), and you have to win it. Players who want more from a plot probably won't be disappointed, however, because there are likely a few surprises in store. It's unclear whether he's coming to consoles, but Lars Alexandersson, one of the characters added in the Bloodline Rebellion version of the arcade game, comes armed with the knowledge that he's the son of Heihachi Mishima, one of the Tekken series' long-standing lead characters (Heihachi does not know this). Another new character, Azazel, who has been confirmed and appeared in both Tekken 6 arcade games, serves as the final boss.
Tekken 6 promises a lot. Through a new engine, new characters, new animations, and new fighting features, it will try to push a classic series into the next generation. It will face stiff competition in 2009, with the long-await Street Fighter IV set for console release in February. If early reports, videos, and reviews of the arcade game are any indication, though, it will give its rivals a run for their energy meters.
CCC Freelance Writer