Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Rage is Tingling... The Tekken 6 (PS3) Review

Please note: This is the review for the console version of Tekken 6 as it is a slightly altered review from Tekken 6.0 and Bloodline Rebellion. Keep in mind also that videos here may not be from the console versions for the sake of high-level play in the arcade versions.

Namco Bandai brought back the Tekken games to their glory with Tekken 5 and its upgrade, Dark Resurrection. It focused on what made them great and also delivered on the storyline, which I think does the best job at it in the fighting game genre. Tekken 6 is the latest entry in Namco's famed fighting series combining what was there in the original game and its arcade expansion, Bloodline Rebellion, It also continues the story of the Mishima bloodline with Jin Kazama now heading the Mishima Zaibatsu, which was once owned by Heihachi in Tekken 5, and currently taking over the world being independent from the rest of them. The only other entity that can oppose Jin's company is the G Corporation, now headed up by Kazuya, and they offered up a huge price for anyone to capture Jin alive. All of this war and chaos starts the sixth King of the Iron Fist tournament for those fighters who want vengeance, the fame, and the power. While some may call Tekken 6 simply Tekken in high definition, its new gameplay changes make it enough of a different game for new players to learn new moves, combos, and strategies with their favorite characters, and that to me what makes the game fun. While the fighting is still as good as ever, I feell that Namco Bandai made some weird decisions with this console port that ended up as an unfortunate disappointment in the end.

The character lineup for Tekken 6 is a staggering amount, which is over 40. Other than the new characters that debuted in 6.0, which are Leo, Zafina, Miguel, and Bob, two more new characters make their debut in Bloodline Rebellion. There's Lars, who is supposedly a long lost son of Heihachi as Kazuya and Jin don't know about him. The other new character is Alisa, a female robot related to Doctor Boskonovitch, that crazy doctor in Tekken 3, having flying abilities along with chainsaws on both her hands. The returning characters are all back with favorites like Marshall Law, Paul Phoenix, Bryan Fury, the Williams sisters, Eddy Gordo, Steve Fox, King, and more. For veterans of the series, the old characters are still play the same way with the same moves, but some of them have different animations, which gives Tekken 6 some sense of freshness. Of course, there are also new moves for every character as well along with certain moves getting changed in terms of properties and priorities. Then you have your boss characters, which is a totally different story I will mention later.

The console version of Tekken 6's main mode is surprisingly not the traditional arcade mode you expect to see in fighting games. Instead, it is Scenario Campaign mode, which is pretty much a HD version of the Tekken Force mode from past games. This being the main mode bothers me because Namco could of spent more time on other things besides this, but I guess they wanted to make it more than just another off-shoot for the console version. In this Scenario Campaign, you play as one of the new characters, Lars, as he sets off on a journey along with another new character Alisa, to figure out the mess that Jin's Mishima Zaibatsu and Kazuya's G Corporation started hopefully preventing from causing further damage to the world. The good thing about this mode is you're not to forced to play as Lars as you unlock more of the huge roster to be playable by defeating them in the various stages. Despite having that feature, you get a feeling of disconnect as you play the stages as the character of your choice, but the cutscenes, which can be pretty lengthy at times, have Lars in them. Another weird decision Namco made with this story mode is the Arena, which is the only way to get character prologues and endings for every character rather than randomly unlocking them as you keep playing the game. Now back in the day, you would just play arcade mode with the characters to unlock these endings and even though the Arena itself is a mini-arcade mode, this is something that Scenario mode does not need as an extra and should of stayed in arcade mode. The gameplay in Scenario Campaign is pretty much Tekken Force, which is sloppy and bad as it is Tekken trying to be an old-school beat-em-up. Most of the stages do not last long, but is very repetitive facing the same enemies over and over again until a boss appears to fight. Other than fighting of your fists and feet, there are weapons such as a machine gun, flamethrower, and a leadpipe available to lay waste on random robots and suits. It is also one of the most frustrating things I ever played this year to the point I would throw a controller because the enemies can be pretty cheap against you as well as gaining up with you by numbers blocking the camera from seeing what is going on. Scenario Campaign as a whole is very sluggish and pointless as it should of remained an off-shoot rather than Namco actually taking more time trying to get better.

Other than the Scenario Campaign, the console version has the standard modes you expect to see in the genre. There is the traditional arcade mode of fighting a set of characters till the last boss. Along the way, a bonus fight occurs with a huge robot named Nancy, which is an example of the wackiness the Tekken series had provided over the years. The last bosses were kind of cheap most of the time and Tekken 6 is no different with Azazel, a huge dragon that fills up nearly half the screen that can use rock-like projectiles, lasers, and its size to its advantage. Other than that, the difficulty for the single player game not that hard, but the computer A.I. can give a fight most of the time. Along with the arcade mode is ghost battle mode, which is the arcade mode with Tekken 5 facing as many opponents as you can until you lose or stop. Then there are the time attack, team battle, and survival modes which are self-explanatory. The practice mode is also another disappointment in which Namco made another weird decision leaving out some sort of record functionality that tournament-level players use. For local versus play, the game plays great against buddies on the same screen, but the online play, on the other hand, is a different story, which I'll mention later.

The overall gameplay mechanics for Tekken 6 is still the same Tekken you know and love with some new additions. One of them is the bound system which refers to the juggle combos. This usually happens when you use a slam-type move like Paul's Hammer of the Gods or Law's Dragon Hammer to the ground during a juggle which gives you another chance to continue the combo with a low or mid attack. Sometimes, using these bound-type moves will cause the ground to break in certain stages that are multi-leveled to a lower level. The other major addition in Tekken 6 is the rage system. Your character will be in rage when he or she is less than ten percent in health and some signs of red glow will show up. Once in rage, you can inflict more damage to your opponent than normal and vice versa if your opponent is in rage. This usually can lead to comebacks in certain situations which makes the last seconds of a match more intense kicking in the nerves of not making a mistake. Despite those new additions, Tekken 6 is still a juggle festival for high-level players and fun for casual players because of its flashiness compared to other 3D fighters.

The character customization is still the same from Tekken 5 of various color changes and additional clothing that is full of insanity. More customizations and item moves are in the console version ranging from Miguel's guitar, Bryan's machine gun, Xiaoyu's magic wand where you can make your opponent wear a Panda head for the rest of the match, and more. The console version also has exclusive costumes for certain characters like Lars, Yoshimtsu, Asuka, Jin, and Kazuya as some cyborg robot. Other characters like Bryan, King, and Marduk are wearing Tapout t-shirts as their third costume since Tapout is one of the sponsors for the game advertising their name out there to more people. The in-game currency to unlock and buy all the customizations can be gained by mainly playing Scenario Campaign mode, but the random roulette opportunities come in when playing the game normally in hopes of getting more rage colors and rare items.

The online play in Tekken 6 ends up being the most disappointing feature for those that are looking forward to fighting other players worldwide. The lag can be at times tolerable to very unplayable not doing anything at all. With a fighting game like Tekken as frames and timing do matter when doing juggle combos, you are likely going to drop a combo here and there with the horrible lag. There is the standard ranked and player matches for online play as the Tekken ranking system (kyus, dans, Mentor, etc.) are still in tact along with an online ranking. In addition, a separate win/loss record will be placed for online matches rather than local matches for all the characters too. With the lag in Tekken 6 being pretty bad, it is the best to play local matches against friends, but at least Namco Bandai have listened to fans' complaints in which they release a patch in the future to fix its latency issues.

Graphically, Tekken 6 looks sharp enough as a fighting game. For those who think it is Tekken 5 HD, think again because it improves despite motion blur preferences. At times, Tekken 6 looks pretty good, but it can look pretty ugly especially in Scenario Campaign mode. Most of the cutscenes in that mode are in-game, but the CG scenes and endings look better. The characters look great with more details added to them than previous games. The environments also look beautiful and diverse with details, which is a staple of the franchise. These stages range from a forest filled with sheep, a Spanish-like arena filled with tomatoes, a skyscraper stage called Lightning Storm, and the Electric Fountain, an urban-like arena filled with multi-colored fountains. The ground does receive damage and will break as mentioned earlier in a handful of stages meaning there are destructible elements in some stages and look great as well. The water effects also improved from previous games with splashes acting somewhat like splashes. There is also motion blur effects with certain moves, which is a nice touch as well. In addition, certain hit effects like rage don't felt distracting. All in all, Tekken 6 is one of the better looking 3D fighting games around.

The sound for the console version is the usual expectations of the franchise. Blocking sounds different now which seems harder than previous games and the hits still sound the same. There is little character voice acting when they are introduced before fights, but they seem accurate to their personalities which is good enough. Scenario Campaign mode has more voices during the cutscenes, but sometimes it is just weird seeing Lars speaking Japanese and Raven speaking in English in a conversation as if they totally understand each other without no explanation at all. Musically, Tekken games deliver great soundtracks and this one is no different with lots of diversity. That diversity consists of various rock, techno (favorite being the Electric Fountain background music), orchestra, and even yodeling in the new forest with sheep stage.

Overall, Tekken 6 is another great entry to Namco's Bandai successful franchise with the core fighting mechanics. The new gameplay additions make the fights more entertaining and intense giving players to new ways to mess with your favorite characters. It looks sharp enough in high definition and sounds great as expected. The wackiness that the series has maintained since its inception is still here in various places with a cheap boss and playing as a bear. Even with the fighting still as great as ever, the console part is a slight disappointment with the sluggish and pointless Scenario mode, missing features in other modes, and the tolerable, but unplayable at times, online play. Luckily, there will be updates in the future in hopes of fixing the online, and co-op scenario campaign. Tekken 6 is still great as a fighting game, but as a complete package, the execution is just not there to be the premier fighting game to get this year.

Score = 8.5 / 10

  • The core fighting mechanics are still fun even in this sixth entry of the franchise.
  • The new gameplay mechanics like rage and bound do spice up the fighting a bit making them more entertaining and intense.
  • Still has the best and wackiest character customization in a fighting game.
  • Great graphics and music (Perhaps the best right now in a 3D fighter).
  • Scenario Campaign mode is sluggish and arguably pointless (should of stayed as a side mode)
  • Weird disconnects in that same mode with character interaction
  • Missing features in practice mode
  • Online play is the most disappointing feature with latency issues that makes fights unplayable at times.

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