Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tekken 6 [Review]

I'm an avid player of fighting games. I usually prefer 2D fighters, but I have one exception to that preference: Tekken. I first bought Tekken 4 in 2004 and quickly fell into the gameplay, the characters, and the story. Despite Tekken 4 being the worst entry in the Tekken lineup, it was what started my love for Tekken. I still remember how much I anticipated the release of Tekken 5; I watched the trailer and intro at least five times a day for every day of the months preceding its release date. When I finally got it, I was addicted and played it continuously for the 4 years to come.

Finally, Tekken 6 was announced. Next-gen Tekken? Holy fucking crap. It came out in arcades in 2007, but the arcade scene here is so awful that I wasn't able to play it. Fortunately, I eventually ran into a Tekken 6 machine at an arcade and spent ten dollars on the thing, spending most of the time just being awe-struck at the graphics. My expectations were exceeded ten-fold.

Thus the whole cycle started over again; I spent days and days anticipating the release of Tekken 6 on consoles. It came out a few weeks ago; my friends and I managed to get a copy on the Xbox 360 (Which was a mistake, since the 360 controller is terrible for fighting games). Nonetheless, it was Tekken 6, and let me say: It.Is.Fucking.Brilliant.

Where to start...the graphics of course. Next gen graphics pushed to its limits. The characters and stages have never, EVER looked better. The details are so crisp that the fighters just look so impossibly ripped/cut. And besides the fighters, the stages are absolutely gorgeous. Due to Tekken 6's story about Jin Kazama starting wars across the globe, a lot of stages have some sort of war going on in the background. From burning villages to fighter planes zipping across the sky, it really adds some flavor to the overall feel.

Also, an important thing to note is that almost all the character animations have been re-done. No more attack animations that have been around since Tekken 2 (>_> Kazuya). They add a really new feel to the game and since the character stances have been re-done as well, it really makes for a worthy sequel. There is also an option to add motion blur. It makes motions look faster and smoother and overall prettier. Lastly, hit effects and sound effects have been improved to add even more hurt to the punch. You really feel the crunch behind a lot of heavy attacks. All in all, the presentation is incredible.

Gameplay has been improved for the better as well. It is mostly intact from Tekken 5 (since you're not supposed to fix what isn't broken), but some new things have been added. The combo system has been revamped with the "Bound". Each character now has several moves that can be used during a juggle to make their opponent bounce off the ground, creating a window for extending the combo. I like this a lot, it enables more creativity with juggles and definitely makes them deadlier than before.

The second gameplay enhancement is the Rage system. When a character's health is reduced to about 5%, they enter Rage mode, which is indicated by a burning red goal. In rage mode, a character can deal about 30% more damage. This allows for some epic comebacks and adds a ton of excitement to matches. It doesn't unbalance the game like I suspected several months back. Now the mentality has changed from "I'm screwed" to "Alright, the fight begins now". Of course, returning characters have plenty of new moves and several changed moves to add to their EXTENSIVE library of commands.

The character roster is the biggest we've seen in the Tekken series yet. Every character from Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection returns, and five characters join the playable character roster. Among them are Lars Alexandersson, Alisa Bosconovitch, Leo, Bob, Zafina, and Miguel. Each of them are incredibly unique and fit right into the Tekken crowd. Bob and Lars are especially powerful fighters. I've developed a liking for Alisa myself, her gameplay fits right with my playing style. Her moves are very unusual and are quite a spectacle to watch, as a lot of them involve her sprouting jets and flying around or pulling out saws from her arms to use as weapons.

There are two unplayable boss characters: NANCY-MI847J, a giant robot that appears in a bonus stage, and Azazel, the final boss. Azazel towers over the player like a dinosaur, and looks much like an reptilian Egyptian deity. It looks very impressive, but its also the most difficult final boss in the Tekken series. Its attacks are harder hitting and more difficult to avoid than Jinpachi's of Tekken 5. Still, it provides quite a challenge. A pointless but existent character update is Jack-6, who is essentially Jack-5 but a newer version.

Tekken 6 does not have a story mode. Instead, there is something new to replace that: Scenario Campaign. The gameplay in this mode is much like the Tekken Force mode in previous Tekken games. You can play with a second player or a CPU-controlled ally, and there are various weapons you can pick up during levels like gatling guns and flame throwers. The Scenario campaigns follows Lars and Alisa as they try to stop Jin and his destructive war. Each level has a boss character at the end, and the levels are chosen on a world map that is slowly unlocked as you beat each level. Although the main story follows Lars and Alisa, you can choose your own character to fight. It features some interesting cutscenes that advance the story well, but the overall feel of the scenario campaign seems lacking. Still, I can't really ask for much more.

Character prologues and epilogues are unlocked by playing a specific mode in the scenario campaign. The character stories in Tekken 4 and 5 were really interesting to me, but you won't find any of that in Tekken 6. Some of the endings are absolutely ridiculous and really have no point rather than some lackluster humor. This was the only aspect of the game I was really disappointed with. You see what I mean, see Law's ending below.

Other game modes are intact, like Arcade Mode, Survival, Versus, Team Battle, Ghost Battle, and Practice. The customization mode has been improved twenty-fold; there are literally dozens more options than there were in Tekken 5. Besides clothing, you can also change the character's hair in great detail to make them look almost completely different from their original design. An interesting gameplay aspect is the ability to use some of the items during a fight. For example, Bryan can fire his gatling gun item. This only acts as a taunt as the damage the items do are negligible and don't change the gameplay in any way. It's all in good fun though.

Tekken has always been an extremely sophisticated fighting game, and high level play is incredible to watch. Tekken 6 is definitely the best entry in the Tekken series yet, with its near-perfect gameplay, incredible graphics, and extensive modes. Its tempting to call the game flawless, but no game is flawless. Still, it is an incredible game and if you're a Tekken fan and you haven't played it yet, you're REALLY missing out.

There is also a PSP version coming out, and from what I can see from previews, it looks almost identical to the console versions with the exception of a few missing polygons. Its really impressive for a handheld game, and I'll make sure I get that too.

Now excuse me, I've got to go play some Tekken 6. Get ready for the next battle.

[C.Jin's Overall Score: 9.0]