Street Fighter V, Injustice 2, the upcoming ARMS — there’s no certainly shortage of excellent fighter games available on this generation’s consoles.
Now, the king has returned. For many gamers, the Tekken series will no doubt hold a special place, particularly the third — released on Playstation for the home market — which quickly became one of the console’s best-selling and reviewed games.
Further instalments have never quite reached those same heights, often becoming overly complicated, the cast of characters being less loveable. The main story, concerning the Mishima family, has also become increasingly confusing, something of a deterrent for those looking to further into the game.
Luckily, Tekken 7 introduces a brilliant (but all-too-short) story mode that recaps numerous major moments — even using cutscenes from past games without upgrading the graphics — while also making them accessible for newcomers. Despite Tekken being purely about the fighting, having a story mode that’s understandable and straight-forward — and completely bombastic — really helps elevates the game.
Of course, Heihachi and Kazuya take centre stage once more, only a few other characters make appearances (Yoshimitsu’s side-story being the best). There’s also the emotionless investigative journalist exploring the Mishima family who recaps past events but offers little intrigue of his own. Really, it would have been nicer to explore everyone’s history, but that’s not why people play Tekken. We’re here for the fighting, and Tekken 7 strips things back to bring about some sharp, smooth and superb brawler action.
For beginners, Tekken remains relatively easy to pick up; Eddy Gordo will no doubt always be the go-to for button bashers looking to kick their way to the top. However, for those more experienced there are some notable changes, one being the screw attack system, where characters roll sideways after landing on the floor meaning some subdued combos (when launched into the air, combos also do less damage the longer they go on). Sidestepping has also become notably harder, meaning the emphasis is on ducking and blocking.
The most notable additional feature is Rage Art, which expands on the Rage System added in number six; this is where, when your character dips below a certain level of health, their attacks do more damage. Now, you can lose the red glow in exchange for one powerful attack that takes off 30 percent of the opponent’s health. The other main mechanic is power crush, where your character can break their combo with a special move that can turn the tide.
Due to these changes and additions, Tekken has become more about the big hits. Managing to land one of Paul Phoenix’s signature heavy punches can be absolutely devastating. It’s an exciting fighting format that’s easy to pick up yet difficult to master; the way Tekken has always been yet still remaining fresh.
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Where the new game falls down — apart from the single-player experience being too short at just three hours — has been online battles. So far, there seem to be connectivity problems with the console version, waiting times being excruciating at times. These will hopefully be fixed sometime soon as, despite myself being an average-skill player, there’s nothing quite like battling a real human.
Even with the extended waiting times, Tekken 7 should be praised for retaining the high-quality, fast-paced gameplay of the previous games. With an expanded story and sorted online issues, Tekken 7 could have been the best yet. Perhaps the next one will take that crown.