Friday, July 29, 2011

Game Review: Tekken 6

Tekken 6 is a great game. It truly is. But it could have been so much more.
Tekken 6 as the name suggests, is the sixth instalment into Namco’s core fighting game. Tekken back in the mid nineties quickly established itself as the new king of beat-em-ups. Tekken 1 was at the time one of the first ever 3D beat-em-ups, then Tekken 2 took the series to a new level. But Tekken 3 was the game that everyone wanted to play, and everyone HAD to play. It was the definitive beat-em-up of the nineties, the graphics were gorgeous, and there were so many characters with completely unique movesets and combos it was unbelievable. Tekken 3 raised the bar in the fighting game genre and rarely has a game in the genre created the impact that the third instalment did.

Tekken 4 was a major step back in the series, many (and me included) believed they changed too much too quickly in the series and tried to force storylines down the players throat rather than it being a stand alone arcade game. Tekken 5 brought some great arcade gameplay back into the series whilst using Tekken 4’s storyline formula. Which brings us to Tekken 6, the first game in the series to be on the new generation of consoles, with a release on both the PS3 and Xbox 360. So how does this game fare against previous instalments?

Well the first thing I noticed when playing this game for the time is the graphics. Namco have always put emphasis on the quality of the graphics in the Tekken series, and while Tekken 3 has some of the best graphics on the original Playstation, Tekken 6 easily can be put up on the wall as a beautifully textured game that both Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3 should be proud to have on their consoles. The characters look fantastic, the men are really beefed up to look like superheroes where as many of the women just look beautiful. The facial expressions are also fantastic, and the executions of the moves look painful, as they should. The backgrounds look better than ever, and with the new potential breaks and expansion in terrain to new areas (blatantly yet universally accepted theft from the Dead or Alive series) the game plays better and looks better than ever. The cracks that appear in the floor when characters hit it look fantastic as well. The game really puts over that these physical beings are colossus's colliding and their super powers are not to be messed with. It really makes you feel that bit cooler when you do these awesome moves.
There are easier ways for a girl to show a man her ass but each to their own.
Now if you’ve played Tekken in the past then the controls are almost identical to previous games in the series. Y and X (or triangle and square on the PS3) control your hands and B and A (or circle and cross on the PS3) control you feet. So through your buttons, you can control the four limbs on your body. You can move with the D-pad; left and right moves your character forward and backwards on the fighting terrain, where as pressing up and down makes you jump and crouch respectively. There are other more complicated movements you can make like pressing up or down twice in quick succession makes you side step, pressing left or right twice quickly makes you take a large step backwards or forwards respectively. Learning the controls of Tekken quickly, learning how to do combos and timing are all key to becoming a good fighter. The controls, as they always have been, are great and there’s not much else to say other than that!

I touched on it earlier, but Tekken has so many characters, all with vastly different movesets. In Tekken 6, there are 41 playable characters in total; the most of any Tekken game so far, and in these 41 are 7 new characters to the game. So that all being said, with all these characters and all these different martial arts and playing styles, it’s safe to say you’ll be able to find a character that suits you just fine. There are quick and nimble characters like Ling Xiaoyu and Lili, there are big, strong characters like Bob and Jack-6, and there’s characters in the middle like Lars and Jin. The choice is immense, and kudos to Namco for expanding on an already elite set of fighters. If you were new to the game, I’d thoroughly advise you check out the Practise Mode option and here you can learn all about these characters on a time-scale more suited to yourself.

Speaking of playing modes, the usual is available other than Practise Mode, there’s Survival Mode, which puts you against AI character after character on the single bar of health you have (with small replenishments after each bout) until you get KO’d. There’s also the ever-great Team Battle Mode, which you can choose up to eight combatants to go against, either two player VS, or against the computer. The Team Battle mode has always been one of my favourite modes, and Tekken 6’s version is exactly the same as previous incarnations. But the highlight of the game modes in Tekken 6 is the all-new and exclusive game mode called Scenario Campaign. This mode brings forth the introduction and story to two of these new characters, Lars Alexandersson and Alisa Bosconovich, a human and a robot respectively, who fight together against both the two main war functions in the game, the Mishima Zaibatsu and the G Corporation. Lars, who has lost his memory, joins forces with Alisa just as the war between the two forces start and they depend on each other for survival. Lars is connected to the war in some way and as you progress, you find out his involvement to the plot and eventually come across the final boss of the game, Azazel. The Scenario Campaign is a fun little addition to Tekken 6 that plays the Tekken arcade fighter in a 3D, multi-angled action game.

The Arcade mode of the old instalments is another mode that you can play. However, unlike the old games, beating Arcade mode in Tekken 6 doesn’t get you an ending for the character you have chosen to play as. To get the endings for each character, you have to unlock a new mode that’s inside of the Scenario Campaign called the “Arena”, and any character that you come across in the bulk of the Scenario Campaign, you can play as in the “Arena” and complete it, giving you their Tekken 6 ending. The Arena mode is like a mini Arcade mode with 4 levels instead of the 8 or 10 that you were used to in the previous games. This gives you quick access to the endings, while still keeping you interested in the Scenario Campaign, to unlock the other characters. This cleverly disguised access to the endings is welcome by me, as it makes you really care about the Scenario Campaign so you can view the other endings.
Who knows what move Panda was thinking of executing.
You can also customise your characters appearances by either unlocking items whilst playing Scenario Campaign mode, or by collecting money in many different ways in the game, and spending them on unlockable items on the “Customise” option in the Options menu. The possibilities are endless with regards to how you can change the appearance of your characters, and there’s some nice references to other games and media, like making Marshall Law look like Bruce Lee, and so on.

I’ve been very positive in my review of Tekken 6 but in complete honesty, I find this game to be disappointing. I’m a huge Tekken fan and have been for a good 13 years, and this title has many flaws, which I will go through now. The Scenario Campaign, while is a fun and entertaining addition to the game, is nothing more than another additional mode to Tekken 6. Yet all the emphasis is on this new addition, all the characters have to be unlocked through it, the easiest way to gain money is by playing it. It’s the top option on the menu as well. As I said, I like the Scenario Campaign, but when I bought my copy of Tekken 6, I didn’t buy it for the Scenario Campaign, I bought it to play an arcade style fighting game. Tekken 6 is a side-to-side beat-em-up and anything else that they add is secondary, is a bonus. The emphasis should not be on the new additional mode, but the reason why we are on the sixth instalment in the first place, the fantastic feeling of fighting 1 on 1 against someone else in a game. Also, the Scenario Campaign has an option for multiplayer, so you can control either Lars or Alisha, and someone else around the world can play the opposite person. This sounds great, however there is no offline 2-player option to do this with a friend on your couch next to you. That comes across as a bit odd to me?

Maybe it’s just me, but another flaw in this game is the music. While the sound of limbs hitting the body sounds fantastic, the characters pain sounds and the falling and crashing noises when characters hit the mat are all very realistic, I can’t help but complain about the music in the game.  None of the songs stand out; in fact I find them to be a bit distracting some of the time. It’s all metal (which is my favourite genre of music) but it’s very loud, very prominent, and detracts from the gameplay, which to me is a bad note. I said that the noises the characters make when they are being hit or are hitting are good but my goodness, there’s a major lack of logic in Scenario Campaign when an American speaks to a Japanese fighter and they have conversations in their own languages. They completely understand each other to. I mean what’s up with that? This lack of logic for me hurts the game as well. They should just have all the characters speak English, but emphasise on the Japanese, Latin and other characters having the relevant accents. That way we all win.

Ever since online gameplay has been a reliable source, I’ve always thought that playing a Tekken game would be absolutely brilliant. The thought of playing thousands and thousands of good Tekken players online was one of the main reasons I had to get my hands on this game in the first place. And while the aura of doing this is a great experience, Namco have hashed it up pretty badly unfortunately. The main issue is the loading times. I mean the loading times in Tekken 6 are poor in general anyway, but by the time you’ve started to boot up the game until the moment you start your online bout, chances are a good five or ten minutes have gone passed. While Namco have respectably given you an indication on the connectability of each person you are about to battle (and the option to skip them if they are of bad connection), the game sometimes has to synch mid fight, which is off putting. There’s also no choices to do anything but go offline or go back to Character Select after each bout; it’d be nice if they gave you the option to have a rematch (providing your opposition agrees), something I’d think about if I had a close fight with someone. But the thing that annoys me the most, and this may be a personal peeve, but I can’t believe there’s no Team Battle mode online. That for me, well and truly sucks. There’s nothing more I want to do than to take my favourite eight characters and put them up against someone else’s favourite eight. The lack of this option well and truly upset me and I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way.
The customisable options are much better. Although surely you can find a better outfit than this.
To sum it up, Tekken 6 is a wonderful game, with many flaws. I’ve given you in this review the very good and the very bad about this game. The pros are the same old pros that are associated with this great series of fighting games, that it simply, gives you a beat-em-up experience that is unparalleled with other fighting games. The extremely varied roster, the mouth-watering graphics are just as far as I’m concerned, undisputed. But the flaws are that the online mode is poor in comparison to its potential, the music is just noise in front of the action, and that while Scenario Campaign is an entertaining ride, it’s wrong that it’s almost advertised as the main attraction, where as it’s the ‘bit on the side’ of a great arcade fighting game. Tekken 6 is a great game. It truly is, but it could have been so much more.

Rating: **** stars

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