By Trent Watherston
There have been a variety of Tekken releases on the current generation of consoles, but until now, only Tekken 6 was considered a true current-gen Tekken title. With the release of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Namco has provided another excellent entry into the well renowned fighting series.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is the long awaited sequel to the title of the same name... minus the digits. As a result, it plays a lot like its predecessor. You select up to 2 characters with to fight with using combos, throws, juggles and all manner of traditional Tekken game play elements. What is unique to the tag series however is the ability to use tag related moves to link characters abilities and combos together. As a result combat is notably faster and adds a new element to your combat tactics. You now have the ability to draw out longer close quarters combos as well as ways of escaping holds and tight conditions.
With battle systems as robust as Tekken’s, it has always been a bit of a barrier for newcomers. Namco has answered this with the inclusion of the ‘Fight Lab’. This mode serves to educate newcomers and veterans to fine tune their skills in battle. It also serves as the main narrative mode. Whilst learning the tricks of the trade of Tekken combat you will be helping Violet a businessman rebuild Combot after he accidently deletes all the combat data from his creation. As you play you will become a master in offensive and defensive combat. These are lessons well learnt.
The traditional modes return including the staple arcade and versus (both Offline and Online) modes. Returning players from Tekken 6 will feel completely at home with menu interface because frankly not much has changed from its design or implementation. Players will also enjoy the new mode to alter characters costume into a variety of clothing. If you pre-ordered you would have also been lucky enough to get an array of swimsuit costumes to play with.
Graphically, Tekken is as its always been -- a stunning game to play and for onlookers to simply watch. A pleasant change in this release is proper support for 720p HD resolution. Tekken 6 received a bit of negative attention amongst fans due to the resolution being scaled back to 576p in order to maintain high frame performance. In a series that has such an important place in professional competitive gaming this was no doubt the right decision at the time. Unfortunately it simply was an visually elegant one. This was rectified for Tag Tournament 2 where the game engine dynamically alters the resolution to keep framerate high without players actively noticing. Based upon the amount of character models on screen and what’s being executed the game engine has the ability pull back the horizontal resolution in a step by step manner. It’s an ingenious solution to the problems encountered in Tekken 6 and serves to keep Namco’s latest release looking as amazing as possible without sacrificing visual quality.
Sound design is still held to the high standard the series is known for. All characters are voiced in their native language, be it English, Japanese, French or Spanish to name a few. It’s adds a new depth to the characters and makes it really feel like an international tournament where all the characters have their own agenda. Musically there’s a blending of new and old. While classic arenas return with traditional tracks there’s a distinct RNB/Rap flavour about the new ones. A classic example being the Snoop Dog stage which features a track composed in partnership with the famed rapper as well as his own 3D appearance making a debut.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is a title that makes no apologies for its steep learning curve, and why should it? It provides you with the tools to learn and if you want to just play for fun you have that opportunity as well with offline and unranked online versus matches. It’s a system that rewards players for their dedication and practice. Tekken is as it’s always been: An enjoyable experience that lets players thrive on the mastery of its complex battle system.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is available now for both Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, and will come later for Nintendo's Wii U.