Tekken for Everyone
During the run of the original PlayStation, there was one fighter that made gamers both jump for joy and scream in anguish: Tekken. This franchise became very well-known for its deceptively simple battle system and killer combos; it was easy to get into, but almost impossible to master. Since those days, the Tekken series has continuously set the bar high for both itself and other fighters on the PlayStation 2 and PSP.
Now, the franchise has come to the current-gen on both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 (the series’ first time on a non-Sony console). However, even though a lot has changed since the release of Tekken 5 on the PlayStation 2, the series has incorporated some brand-new elements as well as improved its signature battle system to create a fighter that is both engaging and deep.
The hallmark of the Tekken franchise has always been its battle system. The game gives you four basic inputs: left punch, right punch, left kick, and right kick. However, though it is technically possible to play a match (and maybe even win) with these simple controls, there is plenty more to the combat than that. Tekken 6 has a very deep combo system that allows you to chain together attacks, pull off grappling holds, aerial juggles, and explosive special attacks. Although the game does not have a formal tutorial mode, there is a training mode where you can go through your expansive move list (which generally contains up to 40 different attacks) and let loose on an immobilized enemy.
Another element of the battle system which is making a triumphant return in Tekken 6 is the defensive element. Many brawlers, like the SoulCalibur series, allow you to let loose with an enemy, and will automatically break up unblockable combos after a few hits. This evens the playing field, and is a good failsafe for newer players. However, the gloves are off in Tekken 6, and the unblockable combo is not only alive, but it thrives. This forces player to do one of two things: always strike first (which hardly ever happens) or play defensively. There are several mechanisms that can trigger defensive moves, like Ukemi, wake-up techniques, parries, and reversals. Each character’s move roster has plentiful defense-based attacks, and mastering these is key to success in Tekken’s battle system.
Although much of the structure of the battle system has remained the same, there are plenty of new moves for fans of the franchise to explore. Staple characters like Jin, Nina, and Yoshimitsu all have plenty of new moves, as well as updated favorites. Though some attacks, such as Marshall Law’s infamous backspin kick, have remained exactly the same as they have in previous entries; examples of such attacks are few and far between, and only occur with series mainstays.
One aspect of Tekken 6 that is completely new is the scenario mode. This story mode is wildly different than the story modes in previous installments, and it features a semi-open world where new characters Lars Alexandersson and Alisa Bosconovitch join forces to unravel the mysterious G corporation, controlled by Jin’s father, Kazuya Mishima. The game’s scenario mode, while a decent effort to bring together the story, just feels unnecessary, and the decision to go with a brawling-type approach makes the game feel more like Dynasty Warriors than Tekken. Another issue I had with the scenario mode was the too-long cutscenes. While I can certainly appreciate a two or three minute cutscene to give fights and battle stages context, some of the cutscenes in Tekken 6’s scenario mode lasted ten minutes or more, really taking the player out of the action. Such long cutscenes may be appropriate for an RPG, but for a fighter, it just seemed too extreme and made the scenario mode feel boring.
On the other hand, the arcade mode feels very familiar, which is great for battletested Tekken veterans. The arcade mode can be played offline against AI or human opponents, or it can be played online. The online functionality is a first for the Tekken series on consoles, and it certainly adds another layer of depth to the game. Players can participate in ranked matches to gain titles that range from “Beginner” to “Tekken God”, and working your way up and down the ranks is definitely a lot of fun.
Believe it or not, there is also a component to the online mode which seems to have been lifted from the racing genre: ghost functionality. This feature allows you to download ghosts of any opponent you have ever faced online, and lets you play and replay matches as many times as you want offline. The ghost functionality certainly isn’t the selling point of Tekken 6, but it is a nice little addition that will give players some extra training options.
Technically speaking, Tekken 6 is very sound. The visuals in the game are top-notch, and they feature high-quality character models and plenty of memorable stages. The visual design maintains the Tekken signature look, complete with hard lines and bright colors. The cutscenes in the scenario mode are of very high quality as well, and the mode actually begins with a highly-stylized black and white montage of important plot elements in the Tekken series thus far. The game is a jewel to look at, no matter which system you play it on. Except for some minor framerate issues, the visuals are first-rate.
One thing that does hamper the game severely though is its abundance of loading screens. Even after the game is installed, you can expect loading screens to pop up everywhere, from the character select screens to the middle of a cutscene. This wouldn’t be terribly egregious if the loading screens were at least short, but they generally last between 5-10 seconds, becoming quite frustrating, especially if you are trying to keep your “fighter’s mojo” up.
Sound in the game is hit or miss. If you like the Japanese voiceovers in past Tekken games, then you’re in luck, because there is a full Japanese voiceover in both scenario and arcade mode. If you are a fan of English voiceovers, however, you’ll be disappointed, as there is no English voiceover in Tekken 6. The background music is good regardless of language. There are rich, orchestral themes that accompany the different stages, and the music in Scenario mode is always very fitting.
If you are a fighting fan, you’ve had plenty of options this year. From the stellar Street Fighter IV to the surprisingly great BlazBlue, there has been no shortage of excellent fighters from which to pick. Though your shelf may be getting crowded, you simply must make some room for Tekken 6. Forget the fact that Tekken is one of the most renowned franchises in fighting history. Tekken 6 has plenty of merits to go on without riding its predecessors’ coattails. With a solid battle system that incorporates plenty of defensive techniques and emphasizes combo mastery, this fighter will keep you engaged for quite some time. Add a brawl-style story mode and plenty of online possibilities, and you’ve got yourself a fighter that deserves to be played.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.6 Graphics
Characters and animations are extremely crisp. Online mode experiences some lag, but other than that the visuals are pitch-perfect. 4.1 Control
The series retains its deep control scheme from previous versions of the game. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
All-Japanese voiceover may be off-putting to some, but it works well in the context of the game. Background music is nicely varied and pleasurable to listen to. 4.7 Play Value
Between the Scenario Mode, the plethora of arcade modes, and the online functionality, there is plenty to do in Tekken 6! 4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.