Release date: June 2nd, 2017
Family feuds run high in the dramatic conclusion to the ever intriguing if slightly absurd Mishima saga.
“Fighting is about who’s left standing.”
22 years. 22 years ago a small child was thrown from atop a cliff and left to die. What could go down in history for being the ultimate parental tough love became the catalyst for a family feud so destructive and so insane it would span decades and set its entire world in ruins. Not something Jeremy Kyle could set straight, then.
Here we are twenty-two years later with the latest installment in the acclaimed Tekken franchise. With what Katsuhiro Harada promises to be a satisfying conclusion to the Mishima saga. Using the Unreal 4 engine and boasting a cinematic story mode, does Tekken 7 live up to its reputation as the best beat ’em up?
For newcomers to the scene: Tekken is a 3D fighting game which focuses on realistic and flowing fighting movements. Attacks are mapped to buttons and each button controls a corresponding limb. The use of directional buttons usually help alter the direction of combos and sometimes shift them into new ones, creating a move set for each character that seems almost infinite. Add this to some of the most eccentric characters in video game history, including brawling pandas, squid ninjas and even the Devil himself, Tekken is set apart from its competitors.
Long time Tekken veterans will be pleased to know that the fighting system remains as fluid as ever, yet also yields a certain weight to it. It’s closer to Tekken Tag on the PS2 than anything else in the franchise. The gameplay feels tactical – fighters are capable of lightning fast flurries and combos. This, however, can be exploited, leaving an overly aggressive player open to counter attack if dodged correctly. The side step has been slowed down dramatically which forces players into more blow for blow encounters rather than hammering their opponent up into the air with juggles like in Tekken 6.
The use of the Unreal 4 engine means the game looks great, with a satisfying frame rate of 60fps and varied particle effects helping to bring a sense of spectacle to the brutal fisticuffs. The combat also feels more cinematic now, offering slow motion moments and stages that can break and shift according to damage given. Also new to the combat are the rage art and rage drives; think of them as super moves that can turn the tide of the battle when your health is too low.
The Tekken franchise offers one of the most diverse and imaginative rosters of fighters around, and now they offer long time returning fighters such as Yoshimitsu and Nina alongside first time debuts Claudio, otaku inspired Lucky Chloe and even the demonic street fighter, Akuma (who is exceptionally at home here even with his Street Fighter-style controls). Rest assured, there will be a fighter for every gamers unique style.
The game modes, aside from the main campaign, include arcade, practice, treasure, online and local versus mode. Whilst it currently lacks the usual survival and bonus modes, there have been promises of more modes to come. In the meantime, there should be enough here to keep players occupied.
The character customisation features can vary from entirely new costumes to retro throwbacks of earlier incarnations. Whilst some of the loot here is cool, a lot of the customisation feels somewhat tacked on, with some items looking to bring a comedy value to your character. The best way to score the more unique loot is in the Treasure Battle; a never ending line of foes that when defeated, unlock loot for characters.
Online mode is a real thrill, where you can take your customised character against the world, which is as nerve wracking as it is rewarding, thanks to the promotion system. Whilst lag hasn’t been much of an issue so far, presently the waiting lobby can sometimes have you in line for up to five minutes before finding you a match.
As for the main campaign, The Mishima Saga; focuses soley on the legacy of the titular Mishima family. The story justifies actions committed twenty-two years ago and the consequences thereof, and we are shown a different side to our favourite characters – some may even sympathise with them. However the narrative is told through the monotone eyes of the world’s most boring journalist, which really detracts from the feel of the game. Akuma does, however, bring a particular highlight to the story as he tries to destroy the Mishimas, and is a welcome addition. Although the story is only a handful of hours, the conclusion is as crazy as it is emotional, with a climax that will have you at the edge of your seat with anticipation.
In a world where the beat ’em up seems like a slowly dying breed Tekken 7 justifies its relevance with excellent and cinematic combat. A deep combo system and memorable characters that will give you and your friends reason to enter the King of the Iron Fist tournament again and again for years to come.
RATING: 9 out of 10