Tekken 6 Review
For many gamers out there, the Tekken series is probably one of the best-known and well-loved 3D fighting franchises out there. It made its debut back in 1994 in arcades before moving to the first PlayStation console just under a year later. The outstanding characters and addictive combat brought the series success through multiple PlayStation platforms, all the way up to the PSP.
Aside from the downloadable remake of Tekken 5, the PlayStation 3 and indeed the Xbox 360 were lacking the next generation release of the fighting giant. Fortunately, developers Namco have been hard at work and have remedied this absence with the release of Tekken 6- but will it battle its way to the top of the fighting game pack or will it fall battered and bruised in the first round?
Veterans of the past games will be happy to know that the solid fighting mechanics are still intact. In fact most of the character specific moves have migrated onto this iteration, and will enable the experienced among you to execute those mind-boggling juggle combos that thoroughly annoy and annihilate the rest of us. That isn’t to say that the combat hasn’t been treated to some new features. The new ‘rage’ system kicks in and gives extra power to hits once a player has been beaten down to a certain amount of health, resulting in a very simple yet effective handicap.
Adding to the face-offs are more interactive environments, which not only add pain to those slammed against them but also, in certain places, can be broken to reveal new fighting areas. These changes aren’t huge but manage to increase the gameplay variety in just the right areas.
The main change however comes from the new Scenario Campaign mode. This gives players the opportunity to experience the expansive and, at times, baffling story behind two of the new characters: Lars Alexandersson and Elisa Boskonovitch.
The action plays out rather like the ‘Tekken Force’ and ‘Devil Within’ modes from previous instalments with the player running through a 3D environment beating people up with brute force and a number of weapons. At the end of most stages you have to fight one of the main characters from the Tekken roster, and defeating them gives you the access to use them, instead of main man Lars, to continue the action.
Although the combat works adequately when locked onto an enemy, the camera issues and targeting system often make this a chore, and more often than not you’ll spend your time fighting with these issues rather than the enemies on screen. The linearity and amount of levels coupled the lack of variety in adversary intelligence means that, unless you really enjoy this kind of stage grinding, monotony soon sets in. Sadly, in order to unlock the arena which holds all the character stories, including prologues and ending movies, and acquire further customisable costume pieces, this mode has to be played through. Put simply, chances are you’ll either love it or hate it.
Aside from that blemish, the other play options are vast and satisfying. Survival, versus, arcade, practice, team battle and online modes are all present and accounted for, with the ranking system being present to enable players to advance from a lowly beginner all the way up to Tekken God. The only thing to note is that offline play caps at 1st Dan so for those wanting to advance higher; you’ll have to look online. Fortunately the online play is solid, and apart from a few lagging issues it offers the perfect way to progress into the role of Tekken God. Add to this the biggest roster of characters yet (complete with typically maddening final boss), masses of moves to be learnt as well as deep customisation options, and you’ve got a game that has more content than you can shake your fist at.
Given that this is the first Tekken on the next generation of consoles, it’s comforting to see that the graphics have vastly improved. Character models feature greater detail, animation runs smoother than ever before and the hits, coupled with enhanced particle effects and powerful audio, really pack a punch. That said, it isn’t the prettiest game out at the moment, but then 2009 has treated the gaming world to some seriously good visuals (Killzone 2 and Uncharted 2 in particular), so it would be hard for any developer to match the bar that’s been set. Sadly, because of all these improvements the load times are appalling. If you have a spare 4GB of space on your PS3 then you can install the game to greatly reduce this, but still it detracts from the quick pick up and play aspect that was prevalent throughout the previous titles.
Once again the classic array of music has returned. Players can expect to hear everything from thundering rock all the way through to a yodelling song on offer in a stage full of sheep.
The Tekken series has been transformed successfully onto the modern consoles bringing with it updated (although not mind-blowing) graphics, a high level of accessibility, fluid combat mechanics, addictive multiplayer modes as well as a well-integrated online component. All of these come together to provide a comprehensive package that anyone interested in fighting games should check out. Sadly Tekken 6 isn’t without its flaws, especially when it comes to loading times, a frustrating final boss littered with cheap moves, and most importantly the new ‘Scenario Campaign’ mode which plays out like a substandard Streets of Rage. If it was only an optional extra it wouldn’t be as much of an issue, but it’s so intrinsically linked to unlocking character stories and customisation options that it’s hard to ignore or forgive. However, if you can look past this mode then what lies beneath is one of the best fighting games out at the moment, and one that will provide players with many hours of satisfying brawling.