Tekken 7 Review
There was a time when Tekken was the undisputed king of fighting games on home consoles - one of the first to really get the arcade style fighting into the 3D realm. In recent years though it has let some of its rivals take all the attention - if there is one thing Tekken knows it is how to grab your attention. Whether it is through its ridiculous and increasingly convoluted (in the best possible way) story to its ridiculous character selection or its ridiculous amount of combos, Tekken 7 wants to show that it can still hang with the best of them. It mostly succeeds too.
If you are a fan of Tekken's combat, or just fighting games in general, you will find a lot to love here. The fighting works a charm as usual. It is a fluid, fast-paced and fun fighting system. A few minor tweaks here and there for the new generation, including new screw attacks which will turn your opponent around, but returning players will find a warm familiarity to the whole thing. The biggest change is the introduction of Rage Arts and Rage Drives.
When you are low on health you go into Rage mode and can start dealing out more damage - that part is not new as it was introduced in Tekken 6. However, Rage Arts and Drives are and they can really turn the tide of the battle into your favour if you successfully pull it off. For those of you like me who cannot pull off a combo to save their lives (literally, in this case) don't worry - Rage Arts can be performed by pressing R1/RB. These are useful, especially in single player but not as much in multiplayer where humans can expect it to happen and thus easily block it.
A lot of the presentation of fights has been tweaked too - when two fighters go for an attack at the same time the game will slow down to drive up the tension. It is clear that Namco Bandai wants to make Tekken 7 a better spectator experience and perhaps get that eSports cred. Tekken's fighting system has always been grounded in reality so it never quite lives up to the spectacle of a Street Fighter or a Mortal Kombat but what it does offer is thrilling to watch as well as play.
Tekken 7 does not skimp out on its initial roster either - 36 characters are available on launch and an extra character was available as a pre-order bonus. A lot of the usual suspects are here: Heihachi, Kazuya, Jin, Paul, Law, King and the gang are all here though there are a few notable exemptions - Lei, Armour King, Marduk and Julia to name but a few. That being said, there is a Season Pass available so it is not impossible we will see some of these characters return in the future.
However, there are ten new characters in this one including the newest iteration of the Jack series, cosplay enthusiast Lucky Chloe, Italian exorcist Claudio, Saudi Arabian Shaheen among a few others. The big two newcomers to the game and the only two along with Claudio to get a proper role in the story (more on that in a bit) are Kazumi Mishima - Heihachi's wife - and Akuma from Street Fighter. Both can act as boss characters in the story and arcade modes while Akuma keeps a lot of his Street Fighter style down to the EX/Special bar.
Gigas is another new character. Think Bane, but Tekken'd up.
Of course, it is Tekken and so there is a story to unravel. Like in Tekken 6, the story has its own mode with its own battles. The story delves deeper into the rivalry between Heihachi and Kazuya. It starts with a flashback fight of a child Kazuya fighting Heihachi, losing and being tossed off a cliff. After decades of them taking turns tossing each other off cliffs, it is time to settle it. The war between G Corp and Mishima Zaibatsu started by Jin in Tekken 6 continues to ravage the world. Jin himself barely appears in the story - in fact, you do not fight as or against him the whole time.
In fact, the cast of characters in The Mishima Saga is rather lacking. Heihachi, Kazuya, Lee, Alisa and Lars are who you play as and even the list of enemies is pretty slim too. The Saga has some cool moments and fights but ultimately it feels tacked on and should have been given bigger treatment for what it is. However it is still worth playing, it will only take a couple of hours after all.
A nice inclusion is every soundtrack and FMV from Tekken games of old, which you can watch at any time. You can easily swap out the current soundtrack and replace it with your favorite old one - I am nostalgically fond of Tekken Tag and 4's soundtrack myself.
My face when I saw I could relive Tekken's past
Arcade mode is pretty small too - about five fights and then you fight the final boss (usually Kazumi) and that is about it. Treasure mode is where it is at for single player though - each fight will unlock either prize money or, more importantly, customisation items. There are hundreds of clothing, hairstyles, accessories and costumes to unlock to help make your fighters unique to your style. It is something I fear I spend way too much time on my hands doing but I can safely say that Tekken 7 is the best dress up game of the year.
I fixed Akuma's look. He's now an Anime, Pizza Loving, French Prince Wrestler who likes frogs and Finding Nemo. The way he should be.
For those more interested in competing than dressing up, first of all, HOW? And second of all, Online works a charm - sometimes. However, with any online game that will get better with time so let us not dwell too much on that. I have never experienced much trouble fighting an opponent but occasionally it can take a while. There are a few online modes including a tournament mode - fighting a succession of opponents to potentially win big money. I, personally, am god awful at fighting actual human beings but my 23.5% win rate will attest too. Still, Tekken is the kind of game that is better against real people, be it friends or strangers over the internet. This is where the game truly shines.
In conclusion, Tekken 7 is a wonderful game that drops the ball a little on single player features with a lacklustre story mode and a lot of previous modes being taken out of the game (team battles being a particularly sore one for me) but its fantastic fighting, frantic multiplayer and a customisation mode that is rather extensive bring it back. Tekken 7 is definitely worth picking up if you are in the market for a fighting game or were a fan in the past, Tekken 7 will make you ready for the next battle.
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