It’s time to return to the world of The King of Iron Fist. More than 15 years after releasing the first Tekken game into arcades, Namco/Bandai’s latest entry into their long running franchise is out with Tekken Tag Tournament 2. And with this has probably served up what is one of the best entries into the franchise so far.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is, like the first, a non-canon entry into the series. Instead this game gives players the opportunity to play as various characters from past Tekken games in the ultimate opportunity to face off against each other. Ever wondered who would win in battle between Tekken 2’s Jun Kazama and Zafina of Tekken 6? How would Baek Doo San’s Taekwondo style match up against Bob’s Freestyle Karate? How about waging a battle between dysfunctional family members Heihachi Mishima, Jin Kazama, Kazuya and Jinpachi Mishima? Or ever wanted to re-use forgotten characters such as Tekken 4’s Combot? It’s all possible here as almost all characters from Tekken 1 through 6 are present to battle. Even available are some console exclusive characters such as Tiger Jackson, Angel (through Downloadable Content), alternate characters done by different costumes and more. Even better is that Namco/Bandai has announced that future characters are coming for the game and be arriving as free DLC.
What is immediately apparent about this game are the overhauled graphics. The characters and environments look more detailed and move more fluidly than any of the previous games in the series and it shows. This is in part that the developers chose not to use the Tekken 6 engine and instead opted to create a brand new one specificity for the game. This makes the game look terrific from character models, backgrounds and so forth. The sound and voices in the game are also something to note. Characters before would either speak solely in Japanese or English. Now the extra step has been added to have them speak in their native languages. So to hear Brazilians Eddy Gordo and Christine Monteiro speak their native Portuguese or Miguel Caballero Rojo speak Spanish are nice little touches.
Gameplay here in Tekken Tag 2 is as fast and smooth as it has ever been. Fights can be fought with single characters, but of course the appeal to the Tag series is to be able to use your partner for combined attacks. Characters move, punch, throw and kick with little flaw. Wall and air juggles, if used properly with characters, can be performed with ease and be devastating to your opponents. Although some might complain that it borders on cheap gameplay it does make a steep learning curve for those just getting into the series. Nevertheless, characters move and react exactly how you would want them, ultimately leading to the conclusion that if you are defeated in battle it’s due to your ability (or inability) to use the characters you choose.
There is no story mode per say since this is a non-canonical entry as stated earlier. After beating the Arcade mode, you are treated to short quick movies for your characters, but the Fight Lab mode is about as close as you get to an actual story. Here you are able to use Combot to learn the basics of the game and certain moves. This could also be used to serve as a training mode for people new to Tekken. You have the option to choose a variety of other different modes in the game. From your offline modes such as the standard Arcade Battle play though, Ghost Battle, Vs., Team Battle, Time Attack, Survival, Practice and Pair Play. The online modes range from Ranked, unranked Player Matches and Team modes. You are also able to view Leaderboards and the Tekken Channel. Here you can view varies types of replays, saved or otherwise, at your own convenience.
Also returning is the vast customization feature first introduced from Tekken 5. From battling off and online, you will be awarded with money or credit. With these you are able to purchase different items and change your characters appearance from clothes, colors, accessories, and this time even weapons and could be used in battles. However do not let that alarm you as these are used for more comedic purposes although they can do damage per say. One instance had me on the bad end of a pie that was smashed into my characters’ face and was still there by the end of the fight. Fortunately, these will at times leave you too vulnerable to use constantly over and over again and it serves as a good way to stop players from over using them.
One of the few unpleasant spots for the game is that the online still suffers from a bit of lag at times. Although this in no way affects fights greatly because when searching for other players, you will have the option whether or not to accept the fight based on connection strength presented before you. But games did stutter at times in between and slightly at the beginning of rounds at times in order to sync up me and my opponents up.
You can easily think of this game as a “Greatest Hits” of sorts, combining some of the best parts of previous Tekken games into one. From the vast roster of characters, plenty of modes both offline and online, customization and more proves that even through it’s been almost 20 years of Tekken, the series still has plenty more great games to go.
I give Tekken Tag Tournament 2 a 9/10
(This review can also be found at ThreeTallNerds.com)