Monday, 24 September 2012

Tekken Tag Tournament 2

“Mercilessly unforgiving and deeply intricate, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is an advanced fighter that offers plenty to those willing to invest the time and effort required to seek victory over the greatest of opponents.”

Things just keep getting better and better for fans of the fighting genre. Waves of high profile titles have sparked a new era for gamers and this momentum continues with the introduction of Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Fans of the series will know that Tekken has never been known for user friendly control mechanics or robust learning systems – rather this is a serious game that requires commitment, patience and the acceptance that in order to get better, you will have to lose. However, those willing to stick with Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will find a precise, dynamic and an incredibly detailed fighting experience that has almost no limit to the amount you can progress as a fighter.

At its heart TTT2 is a very intricate close-quarters combat fighter where the combos are complex, long and often fatal. Players will have to understand the pace of the game, how to prevent loop chains and how to perform devastating combos using the three appropriate command prompts: launching, bounding and tagging. As with most fighting games players can launch their opponent in the air allowing time and room to put together a chain of moves into a combo. This can be combined with bounds, which bounce your enemy off the ground, providing again time or bringing them down from the air and looping a combo over. Using your partner and tagging them into the battle can string these two wonderfully advanced techniques neatly together. Players can have their partner jump in and continue or take part in a combo, be it a throw that does more damage or a string of attacks with them leaving you to perform the final blow. Just from reading this it’s apparent that time and effort are needed to come to grips with this style of fighting and we’re not even talking about blocking your opponent’s moves while thinking about all these mechanics!

Fortunately this is where TTT2’s Fight Lab comes into play. TTT2 might act like a stuck up braniac, not offering you any help on how to perform these awesome advanced manoeuvres, but Fight Lab certainly does a great job at introducing the basics. This tutorial-esque story mode sees you building an ultimate robot that takes moves from across the entire board of characters. As a result, it teaches you all the basics in movement, defence, offence while at the same time slowly weaning you into TTT2’s more advanced mechanics.

Unfortunately the only way to really learn how to play TTT2 is to get stuck in and jump right into the deep end. You may lose heavily but you’ll be learning quickly when you begin your journey online. Here you will find a competitive ranking mode alongside friendly player matches, with the latter being the perfect place to really begin learning what TTT2 is truly about. There’s also a bunch of nifty options to make your online experience tailored to your needs. Character filtering in particular allows you to fight against enemies you want to study or feel you seem to constantly lose to. Friends can also pair up and simply practice and of course you can get a buddy to be your partner as opposed to controlling two characters in your team. Ranked combat is a whole different kettle of fish however, with players already proving their skills by launching up the personal rankings. That’s a shark pool and only the brave and most advanced warriors would want to wade into that water.

TTT2 isn’t all serious, in fact you will see in Fight Lab that the story and narrative is actually quite amusing. Alongside Fight Lab there is a host of offline game modes to try if perhaps you’re not feeling up to going online straight away. All the usual modes are present including Arcade, Practice, Offline Versus and a bunch of others to get stuck into. On top of this the game rewards you constantly with money that you can use to unlock different aesthetics such as hairstyles, clothes and accessories, allowing the game to be customised in any way you want. 

From a technical perspective TTT2 is very impressive. Visually the game is stunning and combat feels precise, intricately woven and fine-tuned. When playing online across different regions on the PlayStation 3 I experienced flowing battles with those playing on 3 or 4 bars of connection. Any less is definitely not recommended because a game of this precision requires a steady and smooth connection.

Ultimately Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is a ferocious fighter that comes charging forward if you’re not prepared. Time will need to be taken to grow accustomed to its merciless mechanics and intricate move pools. There’s plenty to explore with 44 characters present and combining them with each other as a tag-team opens even more doors. As a result Tekken Tag Tournament 2 may not be the most accessible fighter, but it’s certainly one of the most technically rewarding. If you put in the time the possibilities are almost limitless. This is truly a very advanced and very impressive 3D fighter.

9.0 | Gameplay |
Although you will hear the notion that a very difficult learning curve and steep mechanics may be a hindrance, I simply refuse to believe that to be the case. It is true that Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is not wholly accessible to the mass market; even to some of the fighting game community, but that doesn’t mean the gameplay isn’t absolutely incredible. What happened to the days when difficulty was a good thing and gamers waited patiently for an experience that could stump and even stifle them. Be warned, you will need to put the time in, you will need to practise and you will need to lose. Cross those bridges and a brilliant fighting game awaits with endless potential for fun and competition.

9.0 | Presentation |
As with all Tekken games, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is vibrant, full of life and offers all the game modes required to really get stuck in. A commendable list of 44 characters makes this a large and for the most part, balanced pool of characters, something that’s incredibly important for a fighting game this technically advanced. Indeed between all the chaos there will be times you will stop and truly admire the beauty of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, both technical and visual presentation.

10 | Replay Value |
It’s very difficult to create that perfect fighting game that simply demands constant replay. I myself am a massive Street Fighter 3rd Strike fan and to this day, I still play. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will demand replay not only because it’s brilliant, but because there’s always something to do, be it offline or online. With so much to learn, so much content to unlock and so many characters to try and get to grips with, true fans of fighting games will find it very hard to put this one down.

9.5 | Final Thoughts |
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 won’t be for everyone, that’s absolute fact. Despite this fairly blunt statement, it is truly a remarkable game. It really says something about the difficulty curve when it’s hard for me to even recommend this to gamers who like fighting games, but have never played something more advanced like Virtua Fighter or Dead or Alive. This is truly an experienced fighters’ choice of game, but there are small doors available that newcomers can come through and enjoy the experience. Despite all these apparent limitations, those who do take the bull by the horns will enjoy an endless amount of fun in what could be one of the best 3D fighters we have seen in a very long time. Let the King of Iron Fist Tournament begin!

Igor Kharin.

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