The Tekken series has had an interesting run. The love/hate relationship with the series continues to go back and forth, and with so many top-tier fighters already hitting the market this year, some fans may not have enough room in their hearts for the latest King of the Iron Fist Tournament. However, if you find yourself in the same boat as myself, and absolutely love the genre, this game is a must have. The Tekken series not only makes it next-gen console debut, but also its Xbox debut with Tekken 6. The latest game adds tons of characters, a new scenario mode and even some online action to keep gamers playing it for months to come.
Let’s first break down all the ways to play this meaty offering. Scenario Campaign mode will jump out at you from the beginning as it is the first option in the menu. This new mode allows you to follow a story arc that focuses on Lars and Alisa and plays out like a 3D beat ’em up title. The move set from the main game remains intact, but pulling off combos and such is just not as in-depth as the core game. The bonus about Scenario mode is that you can earn a ton of money here to customize your brawler, more on that later. What is frustrating about this mode is that each level requires you to finish it before moving on. What this means is that if you die at the last possible section or somehow get cheaply knocked off the edge of the map, you have to start over.
The bulk of Achievements and Trophies are from this mode and this is also the only place you can unlock the CGI endings we have all come to know and love from the Tekken series. The Arena within this mode allows you to take on four fighters before being rewarded the ending, and needless to say that unlocking all endings will take some serious time investment. As a standalone item this mode can be both tedious and frustrating due to its problems, but the addiction of unlocking all of the endings, characters and earning more money make it more than worth playing through. The story involved is traditional Tekken, so if you enjoy it you will likely find something here worth watching.
The single player one-on-one fighting is broken down into several segments, all of which should be familiar to fans of the genre. You have arcade mode where you blast through a series of characters. Survival, Team Attack and my personal favorite Ghost Battle round out the mix nicely. Ghost Battle reminds me of the arcade mode found in Virtua Fighter. Here you take on various enemies of different rank in succession. Seeing how many you can take down is quite addictive and the challenge really is engaging. The rest of the modes are standard fare and can also be played against another local player.
Speaking of online play Tekken 6 brings the battle to the internet on both systems. You can opt to play player or ranked matches and from the few sessions we played things are still a bit problematic. One match was smooth as ice while the next moved at the speed of a slow moving truck. Namco Bandai has stated that they intend to offer a patch to fix these issues in the near future, so let’s hope they clean it up before too many players lose interest.
The character roster is easily the most impressive thing about the game. From the moment you set eyes on the select screen your jaw will drop. There are a ton of characters here both new and old. Just about every single fighter from the series makes an appearance and the new faces do well to mesh into the universe while still managing to feel unique. Bob, Zafina, Leo and Miguel all show up as well as the two new characters from the Bloodline Rebellion arcade update Lars and Alisa. Of course all of your favorites also return including Lei Wulong, Nina and Anna Williams and of course King and Armored King. The sheer amount of variety is nearly worth the price of admission alone; especially considering how balanced each character truly is.
Tekken still implements the four button layout where each button corresponds to one of your limbs. It feels more clunky at first, but once you uncover the amount of depth behind it you realize the true potential of the system. Then once you learn the art of parrying and ukemis (getting up after being knocked down) you realize there is more here than simple button mashing. Tekken is a slower, more methodical brawler than some of the others, and that can be both a good and bad thing. Button mashing will do fine in arcade mode on easy, but against a solid player you will get owned. Balancing this many combatants really shows the teams dedication, but why oh why do we consistently have to include a giant boss that relies on cheap tactics to make the game more frustrating.
I literally battled with Azazel for twenty minutes before wanting to toss my controller across the room. This is one thing that fighting games have continuously done that simply annoys me to death. A cheap final boss does not make your game replayable, it makes it frustrating. Outside of that the rest of the game feels finely tuned and if they can manage to repair the online mode should have some solid legs in the months to come.
As I mentioned earlier the game has numerous amounts of unlockables. Everything you do in the game earns you money. This money can be used to purchase new clothing items for your characters. The sheer amount of options is nearly insane. There are new hairstyles, jackets, gloves, colors and everything you can imagine to make your character unique. They truly intend for you to play the game extensively as the cost of some of these items is insane. In Scenario mode some of these items also give you bonuses such as strong attacks and more health. Needless to say it will take tons of time to unlock and see everything the game has to offer.
Visually the game is a complete mixed bag. Some of the character models animate gorgeously and even have some inspired facial expressions. Then you see some of the environmental effects such as water and disappearing rocks and things start to take a turn for the worse. I guess it comes as a combination of being built in arcades to run at a blistering frame rate and the fact that fighting games don’t necessarily rely on visuals, but some of the stuff is just embarrassing. The music is standard Namco arcade fare that works surprisingly well and the voices are all relevant to their character’s country of origin, and actually end up being tolerable. The menu system feels cramped and the loading times are atrocious, even when you install the game on either system.
Tekken 6 is a fine addition to the series and a nice way to bring the resurgence of the genre to a close for the year. With so many fighting games on the market you may feel that one more to the pile is a waste, but I assure you there is more than enough here to make it worthy of its price tag. Tekken fans have already taken the plunge for sure, but if you enjoy the genre at all I recommend checking out Namco Bandai’s latest entry. It was well worth the wait.