|System: X360, PS3, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Namco Bandai||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct.27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
During the run of the original PlayStation, there was one fighter that made gamers both jump for joy and scream in anguish: Tekken. This franchise became very well-known for its deceptively simple battle system and killer combos; it was easy to get into, but almost impossible to master. Since those days, the Tekken series has continuously set the bar high for both itself and other fighters on the PlayStation 2 and PSP.
Now, the franchise has come to the current-gen on both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 (the series' first time on a non-Sony console). However, even though a lot has changed since the release of Tekken 5 on the PlayStation 2, the series has incorporated some brand-new elements as well as improved its signature battle system to create a fighter that is both engaging and deep.
The hallmark of the Tekken franchise has always been its battle system. The game gives you four basic inputs: left punch, right punch, left kick, and right kick. However, though it is technically possible to play a match (and maybe even win) with these simple controls, there is plenty more to the combat than that. Tekken 6 has a very deep combo system that allows you to chain together attacks, pull off grappling holds, aerial juggles, and explosive special attacks. Although the game does not have a formal tutorial mode, there is a training mode where you can go through your expansive move list (which generally contains up to 40 different attacks) and let loose on an immobilized enemy.
Another element of the battle system which is making a triumphant return in Tekken 6 is the defensive element. Many brawlers, like the SoulCalibur series, allow you to let loose with an enemy, and will automatically break up unblockable combos after a few hits. This evens the playing field, and is a good failsafe for newer players. However, the gloves are off in Tekken 6, and the unblockable combo is not only alive, but it thrives. This forces player to do one of two things: always strike first (which hardly ever happens) or play defensively. There are several mechanisms that can trigger defensive moves, like Ukemi, wake-up techniques, parries, and reversals. Each character's move roster has plentiful defense-based attacks, and mastering these is key to success in Tekken's battle system.
Although much of the structure of the battle system has remained the same, there are plenty of new moves for fans of the franchise to explore. Staple characters like Jin, Nina, and Yoshimitsu all have plenty of new moves, as well as updated favorites. Though some attacks, such as Marshall Law's infamous backspin kick, have remained exactly the same as they have in previous entries; examples of such attacks are few and far between, and only occur with series mainstays.
One aspect of Tekken 6 that is completely new is the scenario mode. This story mode is wildly different than the story modes in previous installments, and it features a semi-open world where new characters Lars Alexandersson and Alisa Bosconovitch join forces to unravel the mysterious G corporation, controlled by Jin's father, Kazuya Mishima. The game's scenario mode, while a decent effort to bring together the story, just feels unnecessary, and the decision to go with a brawling-type approach makes the game feel more like Dynasty Warriors than Tekken. Another issue I had with the scenario mode was the too-long cutscenes. While I can certainly appreciate a two or three minute cutscene to give fights and battle stages context, some of the cutscenes in Tekken 6's scenario mode lasted ten minutes or more, really taking the player out of the action. Such long cutscenes may be appropriate for an RPG, but for a fighter, it just seemed too extreme and made the scenario mode feel boring.
On the other hand, the arcade mode feels very familiar, which is great for battletested Tekken veterans. The arcade mode can be played offline against AI or human opponents, or it can be played online. The online functionality is a first for the Tekken series on consoles, and it certainly adds another layer of depth to the game. Players can participate in ranked matches to gain titles that range from "Beginner" to "Tekken God", and working your way up and down the ranks is definitely a lot of fun.