Review: Tekken 6 (PS3, Xbox 360)November 24th, 2009 | Written by Danreb Victorio | Topic: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
To say that 2009 is the “Year of the Fighter” would be an understatement. Street Fighter IV, The King of Fighters XII, and BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger were just some of the more than solid entries into the genre this year on home consoles. Now Namco has come out with the latest installment in their marquee Tekken series, and it’s the perfect hard-hitting way to end such a great year.
For those unfamiliar with the Tekken fighting mechanics, gameplay is pretty straightforward. Movement is done laterally by tapping any direction, and you can double tap at up and down to swiftly move down the semi-3D plain. The face buttons correspond to the limb of each fighter, and learning how to use these buttons at the right time will result in devastating combos to deal to your opponent. Unlike Street Fighter, combat is based upon hand-to-hand melee-style combat, so you can’t hadouken your way to victory, pretending you’re Daigo.
Granted, this format makes any Tekken player susceptible to button-mashing newbie’s, but to the seasoned players who know how to unleash their combos, Tekken is still a fighting game that requires just as much mind power as it does insane reflexes. New to the game, aside from the tons of characters available, is the new blocking/parrying system. When standing at a certain position or tilting on different directions using your stick (or directional pad if you’re not as serious) the most obvious strikes are automatically blocked. It’s not like Soul Calibur where you can block with a shoulder button. Along with that, damaged characters can bounce off the ground, and you can continue your combos by using moves that continue to have opponents bounce allowing you to juggle through with some intense power shots.
Aside from the obvious button-mashing, one of the reasons why mashers may have an edge over more seasoned players is because as your character gets weaker, attacks become stronger. When fighters reach the point where they only have 10% of their original health bar left, the strength of their attacks can increase by up to 20%. There is nothing like coming from behind to steal a victory in Tekken, but of course—you only go into “Rage” mode when you have 10% of health left anyway, so you’re about as good as dead.
One of the more interesting additions in Tekken 6 is the Scenario Campaign mode, which attempts to summarize the events that happened from the first Tekken up until now in a manga-like fashion. Along the way, players are introduced to new fighters on the Tekken roster, such as Lars—a gifted fighter who seems to have some sort of connection to the Kazuya bloodline, as well as Alisa—a schoolgirl-type persona who’s pretty robotic due to her skills with a chainsaw.
Scenario campaign mode pretty much plays like an extremely choppy beat-em-up. The fighter you’re using is on a completely 3D plain, and you’ll have random opponents come at you—whom can easily be killed after around 3 clean shots. At the end of every map is a fighter from the actual Tekken roster, and beating these minibosses actually allows you to unlock them as a playable fighter for the campaign. At times, there’s intense slowdown due to the fact that there’s over 7 characters on the screen that still have access to their entire inventory of moves, and that can get excruciatingly annoying and may be the direct reasons for a few deaths.
While this entry in Tekken is perhaps one of the more balanced ones, if there’s anything that brings the game down, it’s the horrendous load times. It takes upwards of about 4-8 seconds for a bout to load, and this is after installing it your hard drive. What’s even worse is when you play the game online via the PlayStation Network. While the game has some nice leaderboards, there really aren’t many customization options to begin with, other than unlocking new costumes via the single player mode. Online play is a bit jumpy at times, and it’s remained this way (since this review was published a few weeks after its original release date), which could be an issue to those who want a great experience aside from playing it on a coin-op.
Being one of the first brawlers to foray into the 3D generation of fighting games, Tekken is usually always one of the better-looking fighting games available. There aren’t any glaring weak points with the visuals in Tekken 6. If anything, there’s probably too much going on. One of the maps you can fight on has pigs and other farm animals that are rather distracting, yet don’t even get involves with the bouts you’ll have. Other than that, with the exception of some really small text, Tekken 6 continues the tradition of great graphics in a fighting game, especially in its 1080i HD form.
Tekken sounds just about as good as it looks. The music does a good job at giving players the feeling that every fight is of high intensity, and the developers didn’t waste their time with voiceovers, as most of the voice acting is done by the original Japanese dub. American-bred fighters maintain English dialog, which makes things slightly confusing because the single player campaign mode has each character interacting with one another in their respective languages as if everybody understood each other.
In what has turned out to be a fabulous year of fighting games, Tekken 6 is a good release to cap the year off. The game is accessible to both veterans and newbies, and veterans should also find new combinations and strategies with the innovative bouncing mechanic. Of course, the game isn’t perfect by any means, and the extremely slow load times don’t make it any better—but to be frank, Tekken 6 is pretty much what everybody expected, and it isn’t bad by any means.