Another day, another fighter. This time it’s Tekken 7, a PC and console release based off the Fated Retribution version of the Japanese arcade hit.
In a period full of 2D-plane fighters, Tekken 7 differentiates itself from the pack by offering 3D fighting. Characters face each other and can move left and right, just like a 2D fighter — Injustice 2 and Ultra Street Fighter II being recent examples — but can also dodge moving away and toward the screen. Myriad characters are also available, alongside hefty customisation options. Tekken 7 also offers a story mode, online and offline play and even a VR mode on PlayStation 4. Also new to the franchise is Rage Drive, Tekken‘s equivalent of an Injustice (desperation-fuelled) super move, and Story Assist, which makes it easier for newcomers to pull off special moves and combos. All up, it’s the old, technical Tekken fans know and love, but with a slight modern twist. Emphasis on slight.
Story mode is strange, trying to mirror the likes of NetherRealm’s latest efforts inside Injustice and Mortal Kombat, and falling utterly short. Spread over a number of chapters, there’s a disjointed feeling throughout. Part of this comes from still images or cutscenes being used to tell the story and part comes from dialog in Japanese and English. Only a handful of the game’s 30 characters feature in the story, though it pulls from Tekken’s rich history, going as far as to inject cutscenes from past games into the affair (and as an aside, in-game currency can be used to purchase all cutscenes from past games in the franchise). In some chapters, you don’t even fight, just watching cutscenes transition from one to another. More often than not, you’ll fight wave after wave of mindless goons rather than anyone of note. The erratically-paced, wholly eastern plot offers quite a lot in terms of visual spectacle, but nothing of substance.
While the new Story Assist does make it easier in the campaign’s initial set of fights, it becomes apparent — and quickly — that the tool isn’t meant to be a crutch. While it does provide for easy hits, early on, the story mode’s later fights get increasingly difficult; Akuma will do that to you. It’s a neat system, though — you’re able to see what your fighter can do, then you’re tasked to start working on more effective combos and chains yourself.
The PlayStation VR mode is awkward as all hell, presenting a viewer, of sorts, in which to participate in or watch fights. It feels tacked on at very best, and a hindrance otherwise. Starting the mode up, it seems like you’ll be able to take part in fights in first-person, though this sadly isn’t the case. THhe mode is definitely one that you’ll try once and never return to.
With all the superfluous about, it’s a good thing that Tekken 7 really relies on its core mechanics. A storied franchise, each fight is nothing short of polished and rewarding. The large character roster offers variety in play styles; each character is definitely easy to pick up, yet hard to master. If Injustice 2 nails emotional connections and storytelling, Tekken 7 doubles down on combat, plain and simple.
This one’s for fans of the franchise and fans of the genre. After a long drought on consoles, Tekken is back — and with a vengeance. Innovative enough to keep long-time fans happy, this release manages to stick to what it does best. Get ready for the next battle.
Tekken 7 was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.