Review: TEKKEN 7
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
It’s been ten long years since TEKKEN 6 released onto consoles, and to say gamers have missed the iconic brawler would be an understatement. The industry has changed in TEKKEN‘s absence. Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter look more gorgeous than ever, creating more cinematic and accessible entries in their respective franchises that TEKKEN will have to compete with if it wishes to dominate the fighting landscape once more. TEKKEN 7 is finally on consoles, having been tweaked, updated, and polished thoroughly since its original March 2015 release in Japanese arcades. Series director and producer Katsuhiro Harada is more than confident TEKKEN 7 will succeed (I interviewed him a few weeks ago, you can see the video here). While some new features may divide fans, this is easily the best TEKKEN game there is.
There are a variety of game modes available in TEKKEN 7, including the console-exclusive Story Mode, Online Versus Mode, Arcade Battle, Treasure Battle, Offline Versus, Gallery, Customisation Modes and more. There is enough variety here to satisfy any TEKKEN fan, and there is even an extra mode coming as downloadable content later on.
The game’s Story Mode takes place immediately after the events of TEKKEN 6. The world is engulfed in conflict, with G-Corporation and the Mishima Zaibatsu locked into a seemingly never-ending conflict. Up until this point, the Mishima Zaibatsu was led by Jin Kazama, son of Kazuya Mishima and grandson of Heihachi Mishima. Jin has disappeared in the Middle East after defeating Azazel, the demon who is responsible for the devil gene that runs in the Mishima family. Heihachi seizes control of the Mishima Zaibatsu and vows to defeat his son Kazuya once and for all.
The narrative in TEKKEN 7 is absolutely bonkers, and while fans of the series would certainly expect something unusual from TEKKEN, the story ultimately falls flat due to its inconsistent pacing and sub-par delivery. For the most part, the story is told through a series of graphic novel-panels and cutscenes, with an unknown journalist narrating their investigation into the war between G-Corporation and the Mishima Zaibatsu. They lost their family in the conflict and take a personal interest in the Mishima family feud. Unfortunately, the narration is almost monotone, and we learn so little of the journalist that they it becomes impossible to become invested in their plight.
Street Fighter‘s Akuma makes an appearance in TEKKEN 7‘s narrative as well, tracking down Kazuya and Heihachi Mishima to settle an old score. It’s a shame then, that he feels so underutilised in the story, as he arrives merely to settle an old score on behalf of someone else. It feels like a wasted opportunity that someone who is a master of the dark hadou is called upon by someone else, and has no personal interest in the Mishima feud or the Devil Gene. Still, the story does have some amazing ideas for battles and a couple of very impressive cutscene battles.
Other game modes play as one would expect, so there’s not much point to going into detail. The Gallery Mode is a real treat for fans of the series though, as it has cutscenes and artwork from each and every game in the long-running series able to be viewed.
Treasure Battle allows players to unlock customisation parts for their player profiles and characters, with the occasional special battle occurring to unlock a rare piece of equipment specifically for your chosen character. These play just like regular battles only there is a currency bonus that increases the more you play. There isn’t a great deal of variety in the matches either and it grows stale rather quickly, though players wanting to unlock new customisation parts for their favourite fighters will no doubt see it through.
Speaking of character customisation options, while there are a few that have been specifically designed for certain characters, there are a number of shared customisation options that simply don’t suit everyone. They don’t mold well to everyone’s body type and there is a disappointing lack of items available to customise the female characters – they do not look good in a men’s suit, especially when it isn’t even fitted for them. I’m certain that more outfits will come to the game in DLC or possibly even free updates (fingers crossed), but at the moment I’ve mainly changed the colours of existing outfits and added thick-rimmed glasses to my favourite characters.
Fighting is what the TEKKEN series is known for, however, and in this regard the game more than delivers. TEKKEN 7 serves up one-on-one battles between martial artists of all different styles and from all different backgrounds much like its predecessors, although with the largest roster in the franchise’s history. Some classic fighters are notably missing, such as Lei Wulong, Jun Kazama, Roger and Alex, though there are a number of new additions that have been added to the game that make the game feel balanced and more varied.
Newcomer Claudio is an Italian exorcist who is both fast and powerful, as well as being able to use projectile attacks. Akuma is also playable in other game modes and his moveset remains intact from Street Fighter – complete with EX meters. Josie almost looks like a Final Fantasy character and fights with kickboxing, Shaheen fights with a Middle Eastern military fighting style, Katarina is Brazilian and fights with savate, Gigas is Katarina’s adoptive father who was turned into a massive monster by G-Corporation, and Master Raven fights quite similarly to Raven. Not much is known about these characters as they have no involvement in TEKKEN 7‘s Story Mode, however.
TEKKEN 7 is the first game in the series to utilise the Unreal 4 engine, with the benefits being immediately obvious. The game looks absolutely stunning, and the fighting is more fluid than ever before. The controls are also more responsive and tighter than in previous entries as well. Some of the little details in a fight are truly impressive. Some of a character’s hair might flick about during a move, or the frayed denim on their clothing might ruffle in the breeze. While TEKKEN 7 is inarguably stunning, it’s these little details that bring the game to life and impress. It should also be noted, that the game can also be ran in 4K resolution
New to TEKKEN are the slow-motion moments that occur during a fight. Sometimes, two characters attack at the same time with the same speed, with the camera zooming in closely to build suspense as players are left wondering who will succeed in dealing their opponent a crucial blow. Other times, the slow-motion effect takes place when one character defeats their opponent. There are times where these moves feel like they throw the rhythm of a fight off, but for the most part they work quite well and heighten the experience of any fight.
Now, TEKKEN 7 is very much the same TEKKEN we’ve come to know and love, though there are two new abilities in particular that shake things up in a major way. Power Crushes are moves that cannot be interrupted and shift the momentum of a fight in your favour – if performed correctly. These moves are vulnerable to throws and low attacks, however, so learning how to use them properly is essential. The other new ability is Rage Arts, which can be used when a character has very little health left. A comeback move of sorts, these moves can be triggered in order to cause massive amounts of damage on your opponent. I wouldn’t call them overpowered, but they are too easily triggered as they are mapped to the right shoulder button. TEKKEN purists may want to re-map the controls in order to disable the input.
It really can’t be overstated just how gorgeous the game looks, as well as how well it plays. I’ve already had multiple TEKKEN nights with friends since TEKKEN 7‘s release, and the added slow-motion features really add to the experience of clobbering your friends on the couch. While the game’s story is underwhelming, this is easily the best TEKKEN game ever made, and a must-have for fans of fighting games.
|TEKKEN 7 is the best looking and most polished game in the series, and easily worth its asking price. A must-have for fighting game fans!||4.6 4.6 ( on 5 rating)|