Being a bit short on cash lately, I had a difficult choice facing me – Tekken 7 or Injustice 2. Both are sequels to fighting games I love to death, but I couldn’t afford them both. So how did I decide in the end? Simple – I bought Prey instead… but eventually came into a bit of extra cash which I used to buy Tekken 7 after all.
Tekken 7 is quite traditional in its presentation, offering all the classic modes, grouping Arcade Mode, 2-player versus, Practice and the mandatory endless mode, Treasure Mode in the case, under the Offline tab. Online contains the usual collection of modes, ranked and casual lobbies and quick-matches. And then there are the miscellaneous modes such as a gallery mode where you can view the ending movies (of every damn Tekken game since the first, no less), a customisation mode where you can customise your characters’ outfits and your player tag, and the links to the online stores where you can pay more for a game you already own.
I just have to mention – or bitch about – the Story Mode first. I hate story modes in fighting games. All they do is force you to sit through an intelligence-insulting story, occasionally letting you fight a round or two using a character you don’t like and aren’t familiar with. Tekken 7 is no exception – in fact, it’s one of the more egregious I’ve experienced, frequently throwing you into fights with enemies that can negate your attacks without explanation and regenerate their health. The story is so not worth it, being about as disjointed and wretchedly told as your average anime. Oh, and just so you know, Story Mode also contains the endings for every other character in the game – which you acquire after winning a single fight for each. Okay? Don’t these usually go at the end of Arcade Mode? Whatever. At least it doesn’t take long.
One of the most publicised tidbits of Tekken 7 is the fact that in includes Akuma from the Street Fighter series, who features prominently in the Story Mode; and while I’m not rightly sure why this was done, I have to admit, Bandai Namco did a much better job of retaining Akuma’s essential Street Fighter feel than Capcom did with any of the Tekken characters in Street Fighter X Tekken. Akuma still has all of his special moves and they’re done via the same commands – hell, you can even do some 2D style combos, including jump-ins. They’ve also used these 2D fighting game mechanics for the DLC vampire character Eliza, whom I got with my shiny deluxe edition.
Aside from that, the roster of new characters is interesting because some of them have a unique play mechanic. For example, Lucky Chloe – the most annoying and twee of the newcomers – fights using a kind of B-girl street-dance style, and some of her moves end with her doing a little jig. If you can memorise the rhythm of this jig, you can add on some follow-up moves. Claudio is an exorcist whose special ability allows him to charge up his hand with a blue flame by landing certain attacks. Once he has this charge, it’ll beef up some of his other moves. Also present is Heihachi’s wife, Kazumi, who uses a fighting style reminiscent of her husband, but with the ability to summon a spectral tiger in some attacks.
The other new characters are a bit more straightfoward. There’s the savate-using Katarina, who I don’t know much about yet; Shaheen, an Arabian soldier; Josie, a Phillipino kickboxer who seems to me like a lightweight Bryan Fury; Gigas, a Jack-like giant and heavy hitter; and Master Raven, a female version of Blade-wannabe ninja Raven, complete with big, stupid, brightly-coloured ribbons on her back that would surely be the last things you’d want in her line of work. Not all of the old cast has made it back, unfortunately, and the ones whose absence I lament the most are some of my favourites such as Zafina, Kunimitsu and Julia.
One of the highlights of a new Tekken game is seeing what new moves your old favourite characters acquire, although I must admit I had a hard time finding them for most characters. I’m sure they’re in there – it’s just that Bandai Namco hasn’t been overly generous with them this time round. There are a few new fundamental play mechanics, though. The most notable of these are the Rage Arts and Rage Drives. Rage Arts are your basic, highly-damaging super attacks, accessible once you’ve lost of your health. The catch is, you only get one shot – and if you miss, you just waste it. Rage Drives are a bit more technical, and allow characters to power-up a specific move – basically an EX-move or enhanced move – and while it’s might not be as outwardly damaging as a Rage Art, they open up ludicrous combo opportunities that could be even more damaging if you’ve got the skill to use it. But just like the Rage Arts, you only get one shot at it.
The final new mechanic is the Power Crush. Every character can execute one move which will absorb high and mid attacks during its execution (but not low attacks or throws). Essentially it allows you to power through an opponent’s onslaught and land your own move. You still take damage while doing this, but it does allow players to turn the tables on their opponents – or just score a cheesy hit when you’ve got a lot of health to spare.
This is also the first Tekken game I’ve made a serious effort to play online, and I must admit, I’m impressed. There are quite a few local players, so matches are easy to find at the moment, and the performance is near perfect if I stick to South Africa – and they haven’t even finished hooking up my fibre internet yet. I’m still using my 4MB premium ADSL line. I’m sure it will get worse the further afield you go looking for matches, though.
Normally this is where I’d stick the recommendation, but, it’s Tekken. I found no earth-shattering reason not to recommend it – so go ahead and buy it like you were going to anyway.