Thursday, 15 June 2017

Tekken 7

I used to believe that Heihachi Mishima could take off his shoe, and shove it into an opponent's face in a devastating one-hit KO. Of course, it turned out to be a childish lie formed from the mouth of a bored ten-year-old back in the year 2000, in a time before the internet could dispel bs with a few quick taps on a smartphone.

In any case, I was always fascinated by the King of Iron First Tournament, as it continued to expand and improve with each successive entry. The roster was always interesting, while it never took itself too seriously despite darker moments. Tekken was a key title for the Playstation generation, but it often played second fiddle to the ever popular Street Fighter series. Given SF V’s failure to launch, is it finally time for Tekken to become relevant again?

Fans will be happy to hear that Tekken 7 heralds a return to form for the fighting game, four years after the release of Tag Tournament 2. Even so, there's a few issues that do tarnish the overall package, especially if you're more interested in narrative and additional game modes. The action itself is both snappy and crisp, with meaty attacks from a large returning cast. The fighting is simple enough to get to grips with fairly easily, with a tutorial imbedded in the story mode for newcomers.

As for the roster, there's a few surprises and new additions, (Akuma!) but there's good representation in the form of classic fighters. Each looks detailed, and there's a lot of variety.
There's a story mode, which comprises of the latest goings on at the Mishima Zaibatsu. It's told through the framing device of a nameless reporter, with lazy text portions that are (thankfully) skippable. A number of ‘lesser’ characters don't even get a cinematic ending, which is doubly disappointing considering the story is generally one of the strongest parts of the series.

Personally, I've always been partial to a turn as Paul Phoenix, despite his diminishing returns in canon. (He features in every game, getting progressively stupider). It's a shame that he was left out, and many fans are likely to be unhappy with how their favourite had been handled. The narrative is pretty threadbare in comparison to older titles, and the main story itself is a little flat. What makes it worse is that you can unlock endings from past titles, using in-game currency.

While the story is always important at first, the gameplay is what's likely to keep you playing over the next six months. There's a couple of new additions that do make an overall difference. Rage Arts are like limit breaks that can change the tide of a round, and they're performed with a single button press. They're a decent equaliser if you're being outclassed, especially for noobs like me.

Sidestepping and bouncing opponents off the floor has been nerfed, and slow-mo finishes add to the drama. Experienced players will have no trouble getting used to the changes, while it's surprisingly forgiving for new entrants. The online portions of the game were a little hit and miss, given the difficulties you can have with finding a fair fight in the first place.

Bandai Namco have been working to release a patch in the next few days, but it certainly spoiled my multiplayer experience. It's easy enough to connect to a friend, but that's not really helpful if you don't know anyone else who owns the game. Tekken 7 is a welcome addition to the series, and the new mechanics complement the gameplay. The action looks spectacular, and the balance of power during fights is capable of shifting in no time. However, the lack of meaningful additional modes and lightweight story are disappointing to say the least.


James Millin-Ashmore

Tekken 7 at CeX

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