I still remember the excitement that I felt every time I popped in my demo disc to play Tekken 2. Knowing full well that my parents would never allow me to purchase the full game at such a tender age, I revelled in the violent glory of two 60-second rounds.
Tekken 6 attempts to counter the successes of Soulcalibur IV and Virtua Fighter 5 by implementing a lengthy campaign mode – similar to “Tekken Force” and “Devil Within” of previous iterations – but does the unique twist improve the overall experience, or does it simply fall flat on its face?
15 years have flown by since the original Tekken hit the PlayStation in Japan, and since that time the series has been pitted against more and more games in the fighting genre eager to usurp its popularity.
The most immediate shock is to discover that offline versus mode has been tucked away into a corner of Tekken 6. The most popular feature of any fighting game in years past has been relegated to the bench, while online multiplayer and campaign modes are shoved to the forefront like brand new presents on Christmas Day.
It’s more than reasonable to expect that Namco Bandai want to exploit the online potential of such a game, and they pull it off remarkably well. For long-time fans of the genre, you will find a lot to love about multiplayer on PSN or XBL, although newcomers and casual fighting enthusiasts – such as myself – may have to grind out a few hours on specific fighters to have any chance of competing against the big guns online.
The real problem is that Scenario Campaign is basically touted as the greatest feature this game has to offer. But it’s not. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
After you’ve finished sitting through a complete history of every Tekken game, it’s to be expected that you will be primed and ready to jump into the action. You understand the depth to The King of Iron Fist Tournament, and you want to deliver a swift kick to Heihachi’s face immediately.
Unfortunately, the developers have suddenly come down with a case of Kojima-itus. With the length of several cutscenes bordering on the twenty minute mark – not to mention two or three drawn out loading times thrown in for good measure – you begin to wonder how a fighting game, a genre that thrives off speedy arcade gameplay, can become such an arduous bore.
If you manage to stick it out through the cutscenes, you won’t find much to like in the campaign. Setting itself up as an RPG/Fighter, the story is convoluted, fighting mechanics are often tacky or altogether unresponsive, and the camera is more a hindrance than anything else. The only real plus is that Namco Bandai hasn’t hired any American voice actors to add an extra level of corniness to an already tawdry feature.
Forgetting the campaign mode completely, you’ll actually find a lot to like in Tekken 6. Sure, it isn’t a remarkable makeover from Tekken 4 or 5, but the spectacular visuals that the developers have been able to glean from the PS3 make this a must-have title for fighting game fanatics.
Thanks to all the emphasis being place on campaign and online modes, the standard arcade play-throughs of each character are neither exciting, nor rewarding. For a start, every one of the forty characters (the largest ensemble of fighters in a Tekken game) is already unlocked for your gaming pleasure. No longer must you grind out each character’s story in order to unlock another’s; but wasn’t that half the fun? Perhaps if they were unlocked only in multiplayer, but were required for solo play, it would have been a much more rewarding endeavor.
All of the old favorites are there, including Paul Phoenix, King, and Nina, as well as a couple of newcomers to add a little spice to the mix. Even the hilarious characters that were better left on the cutting room floor make an appearance; there’s nothing more entertaining than seeing Panda and Roger Jr. take a battering from one another in high definition.
Despite several flaws in its campaign and offline modes, Tekken 6 truly thrives in the online world. Standard features, such as Ranked and Player matches are on offer, but there is a host of other gameplay options available for anyone willing to dedicate the weeks of gaming this mode deserves.
I could honestly see myself becoming wrapped up in the world of online fighting. Soulcalibur IV managed to rope me in, and Tekken 6 online boasts the same addictive nature that could easily envelop you for days at a time.
Of course, if you are new to the series you may want to avoid the online matches, at least until you can competently beat arcade mode on Very Hard. Tekken 6 may not have been on the shelves for long, but there are already masters of the game just waiting to tear apart young blood. This can be intimidating for newcomers, but that’s exactly what it should be. Tekken may not be in the same class as Street Fighter, but it is still no mash-fest. There is a distinct element of skill involved that can only be grasped through hours of intense gameplay. So, if you are willing to commit yourself to becoming a Tekken 6 pro, then there is much in the way of rewards.
While there are plenty of other fighting games out there that could easily be considered better than Tekken 6, what Namco Bandai has managed to do is create a game for the new generation: the online generation. Forgetting the dreadful campaign mode and lack of unlockables, Tekken 6 succeeds at being a game that is simple to learn, but excitingly difficult to master.
With the right TV and sound system, you’ll struggle to find a better visual and audio experience in a fighting game.
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After you’ve experienced the campaign mode, you’ll probably want to go take a cold shower. A lack of challenges in offline gameplay also brings the excitement down a notch, but online mode more than makes this a worthy rental.
While they haven’t gone down the path of hiring poor voice actors, the tacky music and sounds effects still makes me wonder how seriously the developers take this series.
If you are expecting to find the same level of lastability as in previous Tekken iterations, you will be sorely disappointed. Still, if you commit yourself to online play there are literally weeks worth of entertainment here.
Tekken has never been a series for everyone. But for those with a penchant for challenging fighters, as well as a decent TV and online setup, Tekken 6 has the potential to become your ideal multiplayer game.