It’s hard to believe that 12 years has passed since the original Tekken Tag Tournament graced our presence on the PS2 and although it felt a little strange in its delivery at first was a game that grew with me as I started to understand the basic mechanics behind what I feel is the greatest fighting franchise out there.
My memories of the Tekken series are many and can still recall the sessions I had with friends, sitting down with a crate of beer or bottle of good whisky, whiling away the hours, ridiculing our beaten opponents and perfecting the more intricate aspects of the game. You see for me, the fighting genre has been a mix of missed timing, ridiculously steep learning curves in order to compete against a player that is willing to invest the time into a game and memorising the countless moves on offer to K.O. your opponent. But Tekken for me has always had a grip on my fighting heart. Although tough to master the games themselves, through silky smooth animation, fluid control systems and characters that are easy to pick up and play transform a fighting game from button masher to a small labour of love.
So does Namco Bandai’s follow up to the incredibly popular franchise measure up? You bet ya! The best way to describe Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is to say that this is a compendium of all the greatest features from Tekken wrapped up in a picturesque and charismatic bundle of fun that not only sets its stall out perfectly to the hardcore massive but delivers a beautifully interactive suite of modes to help the newcomer along and develop their skills.
You see the core of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is and has remained the same delivering fluid fighting action in a wealth of environments and whilst all of the core characters are already unlocked there is now a whole host of ways to make them look a little different. The button and control system as well as the fight mechanics are as smooth as ever and whilst timing is not as important as memorising the hundreds of different moves on offer to each characters the system allows for the most novice player to compete with knowledge of only a few combos with each move flowing beautifully into the next and not sticking or feeling disjointed.
The front end menu offers up online and offline modes as well as options for customising your characters through a handy store using coins that are won throughout the game as currency, offering up a way of mixing up your favourite music through Tekken Tunes and also one of the main new features to be included in this package, Fight Lab.
Now, fighting games are renown for being difficult to master and although you may have memorised a few core moves, gameplay can turn into a button mashing affair if you start to get a little hot under the collar. Fight Lab offers a way of emparting knowledge of Tekken Tag Tournament 2′s basic moves through a mad cap storyline that entertains and engages throughout to deliver its lessons through gameplay mini fights using a combot as your character. Basic fights to practice the moves taught are provided for a hands on approach with boss battles at the end of each level to solidify what you’ve learnt. Coins can also be won during these fights as an incentive to progress with each correct hit earning a certain amount. Coins can be used to buy moves for your combot in training mode as well as clothing to fully customise your character with. The usual training modes are also on offer where you can see the variety of moves, and we’re talking hundreds here, that have been added for you to practice. As an added feature a small movie of each move has been added as well as the button combo for the move which you can switch backwards and forwards with a hands on feature to practice the move with. This allows you to hone your timing skills which, although is not as important as other fighters out there, adds to an already solid skillset giving you confidence to take yourself online and put your knowledge to the test.
At the time of writing this review the Tekken World Federation was not activated but online modes offered the usual mix of player and ranked matches, wrapped around lobbies that were easy to navigate but more importantly stable and lag free during fights, most of which I lost and decided to go back to offline mode until my skills had improved somewhat. Tekken World Federation looks like a great way to build up a team ala Fight Night and take on the world with and I will watch with interest to see how this evolves.
Offline mode provides your staple in house options that we’ve all become accustomed to. Vs Player battles provide a mix of 1 v 1 and tag team options as a player vs player mode whilst Team Battle will allow you and a friend to team up together and take on a series of fights, each becoming progressively more difficult. Arcade mode is the now traditional eight fight, two boss battle with one ludicrous boss battle to finish whilst Ghost mode mimics the arcade mode to an extent but with never ending fights. Basically, there is something for everyone’s taste and you will never be far away from picking up your favourite character and entering into a mode that suits your taste and style.
Overall, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is not so much re-inventing the wheel but solidifying its place in the fighting genre as the best of class, utilising a subtle blend of options and modes to entice newcomers to validate their places in the Tekken world as well as appeasing any hardcore fans concerns that this may sway too far into noob territory for them. Sumptuous graphics as well as charm, character and the odd wacky presentation adds to Tekken Tag Tournament 2′s splendour and having the pick of so many well known characters straight out of the box with an option to create a combot to suit your style of fighting just puts the icing on the cake.
In the words of Ordell Robbie from Jackie Brown and twisted for my own little summary “Tekken Tag Tournament 2, when you absolutely, positively got to beat down every mother fucker in the room, except no substitute!”
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 releases this Friday in the U.K. and can be purchased from our preferred retail partner www.thatgameshop.com