Have you ever bareknuckled a guy into the ground? Ever felt the bones in their face crack as you snap their head to the side with a powerful blow? The tournament of the Iron Fist is back in Tekken 6.
So, what is a “Tekken”? Tekken is the second 3D fighter to make the scene after Virtua Fighter’s arcade success. It’s also the series that helped launch the Playstation One. Traditionally, Tekken is a one-on-one fighting game, but has branched out into tag team matches, beat’em up side scrollers, and bowling. With this latest in the core Tekken series, the game focuses on both the fighting and the brawling.
What struck me as odd and unique when I first played Tekken (1) was the limb approach to combat. The buttons control the right leg, left leg, right arm, and left arm. Unlike other fighting games (where you can hammer on a punch or kick button and the computer will automatically alternate between the right and left limbs), Tekken requires you to be cognisant of your fighter’s stance and limbs. If your fighter’s right hand is further from the opponent, your right punch will be stronger than a left punch, but also slower. This level of detail makes Tekken more of a hardcore fighter than any other fighter I’ve played.
This limb system feels awkward in the Campaign mode, which plays like a walk & punch/beat’em up title. In Campaign, you run through short missions as whichever character you select. You’ll fight random fodder enemies on your way to a boss character. Each boss is just a selectable character from the tournament fighting portion of the game. Juggling 3D movement while trying to lock onto an enemy to fight using a 2D fighting control takes a bit to get used to. At first, I found myself inputting moves to fight the wrong enemy and wondering why I was performing a roundhouse kick to the guy behind me instead of the boss character I was trying to hit.
The purpose of Campaign mode is to tell the story behind Tekken, so you will have to bare through it if you want to know what’s going on. The opening to Campaign tells the history of Tekken from the first game through to this title. Heihatchi Mishima is the elder of the Mishima family and a fighter who has never been defeated until Tekken (1). Since then, various winners of the Iron Fist tournament have hosted. Still, the ongoing Mishima curse must be dealt with as a demonic rage is within the Mishimas. Game after game goes by until Tekken 6, where Lars Alexandersson and his rebel force infiltrate the Mishima headquarters. After a bout with the security guards, he is knocked unconscious. Stricken with amnesia when he awakes, he releases the beautiful Alisa Boskonovich from her stasis pod. Not knowing where or who he is, Lars escapes the building with Alisa in search of the truth.
This search takes you all over the Tekken world where you’ll run into the game’s other characters. I found the story to be boring and uninspiring. At times, I watched more video than played the game. Other times, you are forced to read extensive dialog. This being a fighting game, I often got impatian and just wanted to get to the action.
The core of every Tekken game is the Iron Fist tournament (aka: Arcade Mode). Arcade Mode follows the traditional fighting format of pitting you against seven fighters before a final confrontation. Like Soul Calibur, the final confrontation is an epic creature that breaks many of the rules and standards for other characters. In Tekken 6, it’s an Egyptian-griffin-demon-dragon hybrid that glows. The creature is twice the size of King (the largest character) and far more powerful than even Devil Jin. Fighting this thing is frustrating, since it can fire projectiles and tail lash you before you can get within lunging distance.
The fighting system to Tekken is both its strong and weak point. The game requires you to think 3-4 moves ahead when attacking to keep your character’s motions fluid. Once you have the fluid fighting down, you can bounce your opponent off the ground, walls, or whatever and hammer on them until their nigh defeated. The downside of this is when you are on the receiving end of a player who knows the ins and outs of the system. You’ll find yourself just putting down the controller until they let you touch the ground long enough to get up. Sadly, this doesn’t happen very often when playing the computer.
The roster is 40 strong, which gives you a chance to find at least one character meeting your play style. I enjoy Julia Chang’s Kempo style for its quick hits that allow you to adjust your fighting style on the fly, yet she can’t match power with King’s lucha libre (Mexian wrestling). Tekken has even found a way to pay homage to Bruce Lee in the form of Martial Law. Martial’s fighting style is another quick attack, but this time with more power than Julia. When you get into more complex fighting styles that use stances, like Zafina’s, on the the hardest of hardcore will want to take the time to learn and master her style.
What disappointed me most in Tekken 6 was the lack of a system training. Other fighting games (like Virtua Fighter 4) took the time to give players a super-comprehensive look at how the system plays. The Virtua Fighter 4 training explained how a bounce and air juggle worked within the game’s structure. The lack of training kept me in the dark. I recognized these game mechanics; but without proper training, I was blind to how to take advantage of them. Also, the quick recovery system is not explained. Instead, the game gives you a “Practice Mode” that lets you hammer on a dummy. Practice Mode doesn’t even train you on how to perform character specific moves. All-in-all, their practice mode is a serious bust.
As started in Virtua Fighter 4, you can customize your characters. For each fight, you earn money. That money can be spent on clothing and accessories to pimp out your favorite fighters. While I’m all about character customization, I was disappointed that you don’t earn much money playing the Arcade Mode. The game forces you over to Campaign to find free items and earn more money. Some of the items in Campaign will have special bonuses. These can range from freezing an opponent to giving you more money for each level completed. Equipping items always sounds good, until you see what your character looks like. The best equipment is not always the stylish. The sleek and sexy Nina Williams quickly became Misses S & M Derp-tastic, complete with motorcycle helmet and leather straps. Namco did the same thing in Soul Calibur IV, so this does not surprise me.
What I did enjoy was the ability to create your own hairstyle. You can buy base hairstyles from the customization screen, then build on top of them. So, you could start with a bob, then add a ponytail or a spike. There are five different sets of hair customizations that can be made.
From a presentation perspective, there’s nothing wrong with Tekken 6. The game runs at 720p with highly detailed characters and backgrounds. The audio is on par with modern games; sounding much better on my 2.1 system with bass boosted. This game passes the test for looking modern, despite the semi-doll looking models.
To recommend or not recommend, that is the question. Tekken 6 is a solid fighting game, but a bit too solid for the newcomer. With a lack of system and character training, Tekken 6 just throws you to the wolves and says “Survive!”. Once you learn the system, the game is fun. I would not play online, since the average player is far more adept than the computer. Still, customizations and a campaign mode that tells a semi-interesting story add to the game’s appeal.
I cautiously recommend Tekken 6. You should rent this one before buying it. The fights can try your patience. Especially when your opponent beats the snot outta you before you get a chance to even defend. Seasoned players will certainly enjoy Tekken 6 as it continues what the franchise is best known for.
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