TGL enters the King of Iron Fist Tournament for the 6th time.
The Tekken franchise has been playing catch up for the last 10 years. During the 1990’s and the advent of CD based home consoles, Namco’s Tekken arguably surpassed even the seemingly invincible Street Fighter to become simply the best fighter around. With the release of Tekken 3, Namco had perfected what it had envisaged for its franchise, slick visuals, astute gameplay, involving storyline and likeable characters all of whom had their own idiosyncratic fighting skills and tactical niches. Tekken 3 was just perfection, not just a regurgitation of its arcade origins, but a proper pick up and just play upgrade in every sense. However that was then. This is now. And before the release of Tekken 6 in 2009, one may argue that Tekken was a frailer, unkempt, dishevelled and weakened fighter that’s desperately in need of an overhaul. Tekken really hasn’t changed that much at all.
Born and raised on Sony’s Playstations and now branching out to the wider Xbox community, Tekken is a franchise everyone who’s anyone is familiar with. I’m surprised that Tekken 6 hasn’t receive the monumental amount of hype that such high profile sequels usually garnish, but given the staggered and static nature of its last few incarnations, one can understand. Tekken simply can’t pull in the kind of hype and attention a Call of Duty, GTA, MGS or even Street Fighter sequel can anymore. Tekken has lost its way a little and just doesn’t rank up there with the must haves anymore and although Tekken 6 is very much a step in the right direction, ultimately it’s a direction that just seems too far away into the horizon for Namco’s prize fighter to reach.
If you’ve played Tekken before then you’ll be able to play this sixth edition. One of Tekken’s plus points has to be the ease at which even a Tekken novice can simply pick up a controller, start playing and even give a pretty good account of themselves. Sure, this often equates to button bashing but none the less it’s a feature of the gameplay which is a real credit to Namco. Of course it’s not all button bashing and the Lei Wulong, Jin Kazama, Hwoarang and Nina Williams dediacted purists of this world will again be able to saturate themselves and indulgently soak in the complex and multifaceted 10hit combos which perplex as well as frustrate your human opponents. Tekken 6 retains the strict and regimented nature of battle satisfaction synonymous which the franchise and yet it’s complimented by the sheer ease at which someone who is seasoned veteran of the fight can be disposed of by their enthusiastic little sister whose button bashing with Christie Monteiro has left you wondering why you even bothered learning any of the combos you so diligently and proudly perfected in the months previous. Tekken’s gameplay dynamic, though similar in many ways to its previous bouts, has been given a few subtle tweaks and refinements. These tweaks however are not immediately apparent. Sure the juggle and bounce strings as well as the new rage gameplay features are interesting but not really game changing. If you’ve played Tekken 5 or Dark Resurrection, then you know what you’re in for because it all feels and plays very smoothly in a familiar way. In fact if you’ve played Tekken 2, 3 or or even not so popular 4 you’ll know exactly what to expect. It really hasn’t chaged that much fundamentally. The fighting is as frantic and unyielding at ever and really feels like a proper arcade fighter. With a roster of fighters now in excess of 40 (41 to be exact) Tekken 6 is a very well balanced brawler and never for a moment feels undercooked, simplified or pointless. New characters include Alisa Boskonovitch, Bob, Miguel, Leo, Lars and Zafina and I have to say they are probably the best new Tekken characters to be included in a Tekken game since Tekken 3 gave us the likes of Jin, Ling Xiaoyu and Eddy Gordo.
The usual Tekken stalwart modes are here, Arcade mode, Survival mode, 2 player mode, a comprehensive Practice mode, Arena mode and a Time Attack mode. New additions this time out include an Online Battle mode and the new Scenario Campaign. Scenario Campaign follows the story of Lars and Alyisa, 2 new Tekken characters and must be played should you wish to understand the story and plot behind which Tekken 6 revolves. Scenario Campaign plays like a side scrolling fighter, in the same vain as the Devil Within or Tekken Force mode and although it is initially interesting, it gets boring, repetitive and even a little embarrassing after a while. It feels very compounded, with limited movement and a sporadic out of control camera. The gameplay and fighting doesn’t transfer very well either. It’s just a shame that you have to play through this mode to follow the story. Mind you, the story of Jin, Heihachi, Kazuya and the Mishima Zaibatsu Corporation is as convoluted as ever and is so over the top, it’ll probably never really spark your attention. You won’t pour yourself into the storyline or the relationship certain characters have with each other the way you used to. The story gets lost in Tekken 6 which is a real shame. But by all accounts, the story isn’t worth looking for to begin with.
Graphically Tekken looks very nice. It’s a very pretty game however some of the textures and character models are quite inconsistent. For example, characters that have a lot of skin on show such as Ganryu look odd and plastically and sort of last gen. That said, the game is for the most part visually excellent however it is not the best looking game or indeed fighter out there. Even Virtual Fighter V from over two years ago looks better in certain regards. Lighting effects are nice and water and fire looks pretty nice too. I keep on using the word nice because Tekken 6 is nice in a ‘just fine’ kind of way. You will have seen and played dozens of better looking titles this year. The sound effects and particularly the game’s music is handled surprising well as it has been noticeably generic and forgetable the last couple of times out. The fighting arenas and backdrops are very inconsistent. It appears the developers got swept away by pig and poultry novelty levels as well as levels with crashing trucks and helicopters. It’s all very distracting and doesn’t even look that well. The best levels are the ones with four walls, simple as.
Tekken online was first introduced to Dark Resurrection when it was released on the Playstation Store and you would think that in the couple of years since Namco would have ironed out the problems which hampered and at times plagued DR online? No, they haven’t. My dozen or so matches were very frustrating and suffered really noticeable lag and button to character reaction delays. These were enough to make me not want to play anymore. Namco are working on patches to remedy this issue and I’m sure over time it will improve but none the less online Tekken 6 at the moment is nothing but deflating and frustrating. Arena mode remains the games real gem and details the story of each character though animated stills before culmination in the classic Tekken endings we so love and adore. It’s the best way to interact with the story in a way in which you can avoid playing the repetitive nature of the Scenario Campaign. The only other merit to this Campaign is that it allows you to collect additional costume and weapon pickups for the expansive and rather impressive customisation features included in the game. There is a lot to collect and will keep customisation Junkies happy and hunting for some time.
All in all, Tekken 6 is a solid title, hampered by things it should really be getting right at this stage. Street Fighter IV proved that fighting games deserve a place in this generation amidst the likes of Uncharted, Modern Warfare and Gears of War. Tekken 6 is a great game that comfortably doesn’t achieve greatness which is a real shame. Its classic Tekken but doesn’t really offer anything else and in this day and age, this is simply not enough. If you’re a Tekken fan you’re going to play this and love it all the same. Let’s just hope Namco fixes the online play.
[TGL SCORE 7.5/10]
Formats : PS3, Xbox 360, PSP
Release date: 30th October 2009
Publisher(s): Namco Bandai
Developer(s) : Namco Bandai