There a few game franchises that are renowned for their ability to transcend generational gaps in consoles. While many of those games are often brand exclusive, there are rare titles that are cross platform and still maintain this ability to continue to have a massive fan base.
One franchise that seems to have nailed down the transition between console generations is Bandai Namco’s Tekken. With their latest offering Tekken 7 now available, the question remains, does this series hold up or should it have been left in the past?
First off, and this is probably the first thing that has an impact for a lot of gamers, graphically Tekken 7 is beautiful. Character models are flawlessly polished and while there is a noticeable difference between cut scenes (which are cinematic pieces of real wonder) and gameplay graphics it’s not hugely noticeable and both are magnificent in their own right.
It’s clear right from the beginning that even though Tekken 7 is “just a fighting game” the developers took real pride in making every character look better than they ever have before. From the fur effect on King’s jaguar mask right down to every hair in Heihaci’s glorious moustache every graphical detail is stunning.
Even though every character has clearly been painstakingly crafted the developers have also had alot of fun with their characters. With a ridiculous amount of customization options available, all of which can be purchased with in game currency, you’re going to be playing for a long time if you want to unlock everything.
It’s not just graphic stylings that make Tekken 7 a joy to behold either. Every character, of which there are plenty of them, has unique animations that really make them stand apart from their grappling and fisticuff compatriots.
Giving each character their own individual personality is not something to be sniffed at either. With over 20 returning characters and 10 new additions, the Tekken 7 roster is packed full of great fighters to get to grips with. Whether you stick with the brute force of series main stay Paul Phoenix or decide you’d like to chance your arm at using new inductee Lucky Chloe’s freestyle dance style to your advantage there’s sure to be a character for everyone.
Whilst there’s a character for everyone based on the wide variety of looks and fighting styles this can also become a disadvantage as evidenced by the games story mode.
Tekken 7’s story mode is something of a roller coaster ride. The story is excellent and gives you greater insight into a lot of the characters back stories. Along side that the brilliant game design (something of a theme in this review) is a joy to behold.
However, as with any good rollercoaster there are lows to go alongside these highs. The campaign mode is incredibly compact, and while the case can be made that “This is a fighting game it’s not about the story it’s about hitting people in the face and claimiing bragging right over your mates” the story mode left something of a void when finished, it just seemed so promising and then gets cut short.
The compact nature of the story also means there’s a constant chopping and changing of characters which is good in as much as it lets you experience a lot of the games roster in a seamless fashion, but then conversely having only one or two bouts as each fighter before being swapped to the next means you can never really gain any sense of rhythm or familiarity with a combatants move set.
With little opportunity to familiarise yourself with characters it means that the online modes of Tekken 7 are likely to be extremely painful for any new players, unless you’re a grizzled fighting game veteran or are willing to spend an inordinate amount of time in the practice arena. Without either of those two factors at your side, you will likely find yourself on the wrong end of a Bryan Fury ground and pound or a Heihachi Mishima lightning infused “What the…. how did they do….oh this game sucks!” attack.
Tekken 7 is the very definition of what to do right and what to do wrong for a fighting game all at once. The character and level designs are outstanding, but as previously mentioned, the campaign is short meaning you get very little time to really appreciate those factors. The variety of fighters is not to be sniffed at although mastering one let alone all of them will require a lot of time and patience.
They’ve tried to combat the games short lived campaign by giving each character their own mini mission to play through but even those can be completed in an hour or two tops which is somewhat disappointing, although the missions themselves do try and show case a lot of the franchise’s lighter, humorous side and they do it well.
The limited single player missions though mean that unless you plan to grind your way to the top of the games online leaderboards there’s very little replayability in the game short of doing all the single player missions again on a higher difficulty.
Although going through the games harder setting will mean you tackling even the toughest opponents on their best day, if you don’t become proficient with characters quickly then it can rapidly become an exceedingly frustrating prospect.
Sure, spiking Nina into the ground like a volley ball is great fun when you hit the perfect combo, but is it really worth the mental anguish of the countless times before hand that she’ll pulverize your face into a fine paste all the while wearing an absurd cat suit that quite frankly can’t be comfortable to fight in? Probably not.
The end story is this, if you’re a long time fighting game aficionado this game is for you. Likewise if you’re a relative noob to the world of fighting games but aiming to master the art, it’s also up your alley.
However, if you’re a casual fighting game or indeed Tekken franchise fan, the limited life span of this title probably doesn’t warrant its current Xbox Store asking price of £49.99 because as a fighting game (which is what it is at the end of the day) it’s excellent, but as a AAA title with a long life span? It leaves a lot to be desired.
Tekken 7 is available from retail or to download from the Store.
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Tekken 7 is most certainly an improvement from its predecessors, with its beautifully detailed characters and level design, sporting an expansive roster with plenty of familiar faces and newcomers. However, unless you’re looking to fight amongst the ranks of talented opponents online, there is a lot left to be desired after you’ve completed the campaign.