It has been an outstanding year for fighting games – some old, some new, and some weird. The return of Tekken brings me back to the early days of PlayStation, where this arcade brawler dominated so much of my early time with that system. Ridiculous wrestlers with cat heads, awesome flat top hair styles, and man those CGI endings. Hard to believe it has been two decades, but it feels so good to return to the King of Iron Fist Tournament.
One of the biggest additions to this newest entry is a full-fledged story mode called the Mishima Saga. Broken down into chapters featuring CGI cut scenes and a story so out of left field it can only be described as Tekken, this mode is bloated with insanity and I love it. Sadly, the fighting in between the story is not all that interesting. It feels saturated with fights against nameless soldiers and Jack clones. The good fights are really good though. The presentation and insanity make up for the lackluster moments.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
Playing this mode also unlocks the traditional character ending sections. As I progressed I unlocked new character battles that would give those classic Tekken endings. Sadly, not every character has one, and honestly I would have preferred them be featured in the traditional arcade ladder. Still, I love those endings, and they are all unlocked and viewable in the gallery.
Speaking of the gallery, this game is packed. While the PS4 version also offers a jukebox with all of the previous soundtracks, every version comes with the gallery. Using fight money earned in other modes, players can unlock every CGI ending and opening from all the previous Tekken games. It is glorious. There are also artwork bits. There is just so much content to unlock, which is great for solo players.
Customization also returns with a bang. Every character in the game can be outfitted with new costumes and accessories to liven up their look. Some are universal, while others are character-specific. Players can also customize celebrations, give auras, and even tan their character’s skin. There are also customizations to the HUD. Want a Dig Dug life bar? That is possible. The sheer amount of stuff to unlock in insane. I do wish purchases were universal for characters though, that is my only disappointment.
Under the hood Tekken 7 has also been tweaked. While casual fans likely won’t notice the subtle changes, more hardcore players certainly will. Damage scaling is now a thing, and it negates some of the ridiculous damage long string combos do. Sidestepping has also been tweaked to feature slower, more methodical movement. Finally, the forward and backward movement has been tweaked, and jumping just feels better. These minor additions make a large impact on tournament play, and it will be fun to see dedicated players figure out the systems in place.
Tekken 7 also adds Rage moves. These are essentially super moves that can be performed with a simple tap of a button. They are flashy and over-the-top. The slowdown mechanic that occurs when two players are vying for that essential last hit is also amazing. The suspense will make for some great tournament finishes.
One of the biggest problems previous entries had was in the game’s netcode. Tekken 7 feels like it alleviates that. Matches are relatively smooth online, although the matchmaking feels a bit problematic right now. Also, the loading time between rounds is simply ridiculous. Some of this is remedied in the PC version, but for those playing on console, expect some lengthy load times between fights, even simply rematches.
Visually Tekken 7 is stunning. The Unreal Engine 4-powered game showcases some gorgeous character models and stages. The game runs at 60fps with rarely a miss. The soundtrack is equally impressive. Something about Tekken tunes really amp up the fights. I really enjoyed the presentation in this chapter of the series.
Tekken 7 feels like the return for the series. After some bumps in the PS2 and PS3 era this series really feels like it is regaining its footing. There is a lot of content here for casuals and solo players, and the hardcore will love the under-the-hood changes. There is something for everyone, which most fighting games fail to capitalize on. If you have been out of the Tekken game for a while, it is finally time to return.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.