During the early 2000’s it was hard not to find a fighting game that wasn’t in 3D. It seemed like every fighting game in the arcades were exploring the new realm of 3D thanks to improved hardware, and a shift in attention from the classic 2D stage to the 3D realm. Even classic fighting games such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat dipped their toes in the 3D fad, though with little success. One of the few series that has found success in this genre has been Tekken. Over the twenty plus years in its existence, Tekken has built a name as being one of the most recognized and revered 3D fighting games both in arcades and in the console realm.
With its large cast of colourful characters and a fighting system that was simple to learn, but difficult to master, the Tekken series has always succeeded in making a fighting game that thrived in the 3D arena. Those who may have grown up playing the older Tekken games in arcades have typically found a reason to continue with the series onto the home consoles for many years. However, after six main games and spin-off Tag Tournaments in the franchise, does Tekken 7 deliver for long-time fans enough to warrant another purchase?
Tekken 7: PC, Xbox One [Reviewed], PS4
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release Date: 02 June 2017
Price: £49.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
The answer is, of course, yes, which is mainly due to the fact that the deep fighting mechanic remains largely unchanged. Those who are looking for the same experience on a new console would be satisfied enough knowing that developer Bandai Namco didn’t go out of its way to try and reinvent the wheel. The classic four button layout is the same, with each one tied to a specific limb and combos are performed by hitting these buttons in a specific sequence and order. Moreover, the juggling system returns that allows a fighter to carry his or her opponent from one end of the arena to the other in a single combo.
There are a few new systems added in Tekken 7 though, with the intent of making matches closer by providing greater comeback opportunities for the losing fighter. These include the Rage Art, Rage Drive, and Power Crush. The Rage Art is a powerful super move that any character can perform once their health goes below a certain point. If it connects, the fighter will do a flashy multi-hit combo that will deal a great amount of damage. However, if the Rage Art is blocked, it usually leaves the fighter very open to a counter attack, making them a risky move to throw out haphazardly. Rage Drive’s are similar to Rage Drive in that they require a character to be below a certain amount of health.
Rage Drive, however, gives enhanced versions of a characters move, which does more damage and creates new combo opportunities. Finally, the Power Crush is a new armoured attack that absorbs opponents attacks that go through a lot of high and mid attacks but are weak to lows and throws. While none of these new mechanics revolutionize the fighting style in Tekken, they do add a new layer of depth to the game that both veterans and newcomers can utilize into their gameplay.
Tekken 7 continues the melodramatic story that is the soap opera of the Mishima family, which is as convoluted as a long running daytime drama series. Following the events of Tekken 6, Jin Kazama is unconscious and his whereabouts unknown. With the leader of the Mishima Zaibatsu missing, Heihachi returns to take control over the corporation only to use his position to announce – you guessed it – another King of the Iron Fist Tournament.
The majority of the story is told from the perspective of a journalist who lost his family due to the war between the two major factions in the world (the Mishima Zaibatsu and G Corporation) and takes it upon himself to learn more about the Mishima bloodline in order to expose them to the world. While this unique perspective adds a serious tone to an otherwise over the top story, these dramatic moments are often broken up by action set pieces seen from a Michael Bay film that defeats any sort of tension built by the previous scenes. Due to the fact that this is a story for a fighting game as well, most moments are broken up by scenes in which you take control of a fighter to battle a series of generic soldiers or Jack-7 bots or other fighters from the roster for one reason or another.
Because of the inconsistent pacing in the storytelling and scenes, any emotional impact we were meant to have regarding a war that is leading the whole world to total collapse is removed and quickly forgotten. Furthermore, the game does not even provide much of a backstory of the previous Tekken games, so newcomers of the series will have no knowledge about any of the backstory or events leading up to the current plotline without using outside resources. Ultimately the campaign is a rather short and quickly lacklustre story that acts as nothing more as than a simplified tutorial and a chance to play out a few of the main characters in the game for a few matches.
The more promising offline mode Tekken 7 offers is the Treasure Battle mode, which pits you in a series of fights against AI opponents of increasing difficulty for a chance of rewards. These rewards come in the form of Fight Money (the term for the game’s currency) and unlocks for items you can buy in the store. Occasionally there will be stipulations to the matches, such as increased speed or double damage, or the occasional boss battle, but they’re not quite as creative or unique as some of the match stipulations you’d find in the Towers mode of Mortal Kombat X or the Multiverse mode in Injustice 2. As such, Treasure Battle seems as nothing more than an excuse to practice combos in an offline setting while earning Fight Money, rewards and new ways of customising your favourite fighter.
Speaking of customization, Tekken 7 offers a plethora of customisation options when it comes to creating the look unique to your own fashion tastes. Want to wear a frog for a hat, or wear cool looking shades, or have a fish companion on your shoulder, or represent your favorite NJPW faction? Tekken 7 offers all that and more. There are numerous wardrobe options for every character, so players can find themselves farming Fight Money and unlocks in Treasure Battle mode if they want to fulfil their need of collecting everything and styling their favorite fighter to their own unique tastes and showing them off in online matches. However, none of these add any significant gameplay changes, making them entirely cosmetic and an optional feature that players can choose to take advantage of.
In terms of online features, Tekken 7 offers the standard modes such as ranked, player match, and an online tournament mode that you can use to organize online tournaments with your friends. Tournament mode is the most unique feature, which allows players not fighting to spectate other matches in order to observe their future opponents. Latency can vary with some matches running quite well, while others can run as slow as molasses.
In my personal experience lag was a problem more often than not, which is unfortunate given the tight timing windows for many combos. Regardless, there is a rather lengthy load time whenever you do connect with another player right before the actual match begins. This can be a rather annoying issue for anyone who is looking to play Tekken 7 primarily online and planning on playing plenty of matches.
By and large, Tekken 7 is the same Tekken fans of the series have grown to love over its several iterations. The majority of characters including many fan favourites make a return, as well as the series’ emphasis on easy to learn, but difficult to master fighting mechanics and combo systems that the series is famous for. New mechanics such as Rage Art, Rage Drive, and the Power Crush move add some more depth to the fighting system, and makes them feel fresh, and a bit more in line with other fighting games. However, the story mode ends up being rather a lackluster and forgettable campaign, which is a bit disappointing given the stellar story mode of another recent fighting game in Injustice 2.
It does little to explain the conflicts between the main characters, which would make the entire plotline confusing to newcomers of the series, or people who aren’t very familiar with the Tekken lore. Even the inclusion of Akuma, a long-time fan favourite of the Street Fighter series into the Tekken universe makes little sense, even if his playstyle from the 2D Street Fighter series carried over to Tekken quite well. Couple this with the lack of a proper fight lab or any mode to help teach players the ins and outs of any character they may want to check out, and Tekken 7 comes across as a game that favors series veterans while feeling a bit unwelcoming to newcomers. These newcomers will have to rely on outside resources if they want to master the battle system. Online experience will vary, though lengthy load times and vastly inconsistent laggy matches may turn people off of the online experience altogether.
For hardcore fans of the Tekken series, Tekken 7 is an easy recommendation, casual fans, however, may want to check out previous installments of the series to find out if Tekken 7 is worth the investment.
- Rich gameplay mechanics from the series return, with some new comeback mechanics
- Plethora of customization options for each character
- Character models and stages look great
- Akuma works well in the 3D arena
- Short, confusing and forgettable story mode
- No in-game lab or tutorial mode