Tekken, one of the most popular fighting franchises makes it next-generation debut on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. In its sixth alliteration Tekken once again opens up the legendary Iron Fist Tournament to determine the ultimate fighter. It’s time to mano-a-mano with Namco Bandai to see how the Tekken series has evolved.
Tekken 6 might be making its debut state side, however Japanese gamers know Tekken 6 well as it been in their arcades for almost two entire years! In the dwindling state of arcades you would be lucky if you can even find a Street Fighter IV machine let alone Tekken 6. Well, that doesn’t matter anymore as Namco Bandai has released the game for the home consoles, and for the first time this includes a Microsoft. Tekken has always been exclusive to the Playstation brand since the first Tekken was released in 1995. In fifteen years since its original console release on the original Playstation, Tekken has a steady series appearing about every two years over the two generations of the Playstation which even includes the Playstation Portable. Although, times be a changing an in this economy, even the big companies like Namco Bandai open their wallets in the hopes of selling more units. The only way you’re going to do this is by going cross-platform, and even though the Playstation fan boys are loosing another franchise, Tekken will always feel like a Playstation game.
The Song Remains (Almost) the Same
Compared to the older version of Tekken, Tekken 6 doesn’t stray too far from its arcade styled fighting. Even if you haven’t touched a Tekken game since Tekken Tag Tournament (like this gamer) you can pick up Tekken 6 without any rust on those finger tapping skills. Tekken can be like a religion to some gamers and for them Tekken can do no wrong, even if the series hasn’t really evolved too much over the years. Unlike other franchises that seem to deepen their fighting arsenal, Tekken always feels the same. This is great if you have always loved the Tekken style of fighting, Tekken is fast, accessible enough for the first-timers and deceiving deeper for those who want to dig further in. Tekken 6 doesn’t feel like the slightly slower-- more technique based fighting games like Virtua Fighter, or even Dead or Alive. I’m sure that is up for debate, however I see Tekken as the arcade-ish fighter out of the bunch and that’s not a bad thing.
What changes Tekken 6 has made to the combat is to make the stages bigger than before, and more interactive. Although Tekken 6 seems a little late to the party because the stages and interactive aspects seem like insufficient given advancements in other fighting games. One new area of advancement that works for the series is the new “rage” system that lets you do more damage when your vitality is low. When rage is activated the characters will have a glow around them that can be customized to look like different elemental effects like fire, ice, and more. Tekken 6 also includes a “bound” concept that lets you juggle combos in midair. These attacks are extremely useful as they can leave your opponent stunned. These two new changes aren’t major changes, actually in the grand scheme of the battles it seems like a minor detail, however if you have been steadily into Tekken over the years, I’m sure you appreciate any “good” change when you can get it.
A Limb for a Button
The action unfolds with each button on the controller representing a limb on the player. This is easy to learn and understand from a fighting perspective which allows you to think out your own combos. Tekken might be easily to learn, but like all fighters it can be hard to master, and when you’ll realize this the most is fighting online. The cats who troll the online fighting channel are one tough bunch, so unless you have good luck and get all the newbes, then I would hold off until you can prove yourself against the A.I. Underneath the basic punching and kicking you can also start to get into all the other stuff like wall hits, counter attacks, parries, juggles, and more. There is a lot of strategy that can come out to play in Tekken even though from it’s out outer appearance it seems like a silly action button mashing fighter.
Reshape Your Game
Customization is a big deal in Tekken 6 and now that the roster boasts the biggest numbers we’ve seen in a Tekken game, having the ability to customize each character is appreciated and a feature that can keep you playing a little longer than you expected. Money can be earned in almost ever mode in the game so you won’t have to worry about a shortage of coin which is a good things when you look at the prices of unlockables. The Tekken upgrading shop is defiantly out to make a quick buck. The total number of characters in Tekken is a staggering 42. For the most part these characters are unique and stand out in the pile of fighters; Tekken is the one with the fighting log (Mokujin) and Panda Bear... strange? well, not too strange for Tekken. The new characters introduced in Tekken 6 include Zafina, Leo, Miguel Caballero Rojo, Bob, Alisa Boskonovitch, Lars Alexandersson and two bosses NANCY-MI647J, and Azazel (who is ridiculously huge). Out of the whole pack, Alisa is the most interesting because she is a cyborg with spinning limb enhancements and jet pack wings, but Tekken definitely has one of the most diverse line-up of fighters in a game while keeping it "near" reality, and I use that term loosely.
Oh No! What's This?!
In Tekken 6 they have tried to go into a new direction with the scenario campaign story mode which is a disgrace when compared to the straight up arcade fighting of Tekken. In the campaign scenario, Tekken turns into a beat em’ up game with Tekken characters. Now in theory this could be good if Namco could port over some of the fast paced, intelligent moments from a casual fight into the beat em’ up game, but sadly this doesn’t happen. The scenario is simply a bad version of a beat em’ up that forces the player to continue down its bland adventure to earn cash, and unlockables for the arcade mode. Tacked on would be the perfect phrase to explain this mode in Tekken 6. It’s too bad it feels like Namco actually has some pride in this mode because it’s definitely not on par with the rest of the game. So obviously I’m not a fan and there are so many problems with it that I won’t even start to go it, it’s downright embarrassing. The only good aspect to the campaign story besides unlocking extra content is that you don’t have to play it. Striking it from your mind, Tekken 6 can actually hold up its integrity as a solid fighter. I think Mortal Kombat did this once before in Deadly Alliance... and we all know how that turned out.
To wash the taste out of the campaign mode we can focus on the “normal” modes in Tekken which involves the standard arcade, time trial, team-based, survival, practice modes along with a new mode called Ghost Battles which is actually the most enjoyable out of all the Tekken modes. Ghost Battles give the player the option of picking their next opponent out of three choices after each bout in an ongoing stream of contenders. This lets you evolve to the stronger battles when you feel ready, unlike the arcade mode that forces you to move up in difficulty. When you add in the huge amount of contenders, "Ghost Battles" remains fresh even after long sittings. Ghost Battles are a great way to learn Tekken and earn some nice cash rewards while you take down your enemies.
Graphically Tekken is a disappointment. When thinking back to the glory days of the Tekken franchise it was always one of the leaders in the level of polish and detail in their characters. Tekken 6 doesn’t follow through to meet these standards and in all actuality Tekken 6 looks a little dated and washed out. The textures aren’t overly crisp and there are a lot of jaggies and blocky sections in all areas of the game (and not including the campaign mode). These traits really don’t sit well in a game that usually expands on each version, however even a little underdeveloped this time around, Tekken still performances flawlessly without lag or any screen tearing. The action is good once it gets going, just don’t stop too long to see its flaws.
I should also mention that the load times sit a little too long between fights which hurts the flow of battle. It’s not extraordinary when placed into a normal game, however in a fighter we want our action quicker and waiting upwards to 15 seconds is a little too long. The Playstation 3 version had longer load times then the Xbox 360, however with both games I would suggest installing them onto the hard drive if you’re going to dive into Tekken seriously.
In this area which I should also include the sound development, Tekken 6 falls a little behind. It's not that its horrible, there are so good points, however it doesn't live up to expectations. Strange the genre that used to lead the industry in the flash, and polish character models is falling behind other titles. Tekken 6 is in HD, 720p (PS3) and 1080p (X360), but its not one that you will be showing off to your friends. Quite a difference from the old days.
Tekken 6 is another solid continuation of the Tekken series. However, it does little to advance the series like other fighting games have done. While the rest of the industry evolves it seems Tekken is content on being a static image of its former self. Tekken 6 isn’t going to suit everyone-- but for the people who enjoy soaking up that classic Tekken vibe will be drinking up what Tekken 6 offers. The best aspect of Tekken 6 is the large roster which keeps you busy trying to master all the little intricacies of their fighting style. This plays off exceptionally well when played with other human players both online and a locally. If you can forgive its missteps (and it has a few) Tekken 6 is still a fairly solid title and one fighting game fans should check out, just don’t get your expectations up.
Gameplay:7.8, Graphics:7.4, Sound:6.0, Innovation:6.6, Mojo:7.4 Final: 7.0 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 11.11.09