Replay Value: 9.3
Before you go anywhere, make note of this, this review of Tekken Tag Tournament is a revised version for US of the import review I wrote back in April. I decided to do this because the US and Japanese versions have remained nearly identical except in the visuals are which I have re-written as well, I'm not doing this because I'm lazy, but because I would end up writing the same words in my US review as I did in my Japanese review, about half of this is new text, thank you and enjoy!
When you think of Tekken, what is the first thing that pop into your head? The first thing that I get is "greatest fighting series of all time". People may argue but it is pretty safe to say that Tekken is by far the only fighting series that is not "sequel happy". Take a look at the Street Fighter series, since 1994 we must have gotten over ten Street Fighters. What about Mortal Kombat (ooh, shivers went down my spine), once Midway started with one they gave us about 6-8 more within 4 years. Then we come down to Namco's flagship, the Tekken series, without a doubt the greatest and deepest fighter to grace our consoles. All this recognition is not going to Namco's head, over the past six years (since Tekken arcade), we have only seen four Tekken games, Tekken, Tekken 2, Tekken 3, and Tekken Tag Tournament. Unlike Midway and Capcom, Namco takes time with their fighter, so that they could bring the gamer a new and pleasant surprise. Tekken Tag Tournament has been playing on the arcades for about a year and a half now (give or take a month or two). So it was no surprise that Namco would release their semi-sequel to Tekken 3 on PS2, it is probably the only system that could give Namco all the freedom they want. Accompanying the PS2 on its birth here in the US, Tekken Tag Tournament makes its way to the US with some visual improvements over the Japanese one, see how it fares as a launch title.
Tekken has always been the dominant force in fighting visuals, and even to this day Tekken 3 impresses me, so let's see if TTT will be impressing me from now til' whenever. First I'm going to put my leg down an destroy the fact that TTT doesn't have anti-aliasing, because it does!. The Japanese Tekken Tag suffered from some lack of aliasing, which was barely noticebale and some background flickering, that was first discovered and mentioned at the Sony Festival 2000 (I think) where some people said that 'TTT looks like Tekken 3 running in advanced mode'. They also said that when the fighters move on-screen they have the worst case of "jaggies" a videogame has seen'. That was all horsesh*t back then, because Tekken's visuals exceed Soul Calibur's, Street Fighter EX3's and Dead or Alive 2 (PS2 and DC), and with the anti-aliased and de-flickered visuals that graphics are much sharper than they were before. The character detail is on par with Soul Calibur (SC), but background and environmental detail definitely goes to TTT. But when speaking of environmental areas, that aspect belongs to DOA2, TTT has plain arenas with no freedom to move around in, but in DOA 2 you can knock an opponent of a buliding, iceberg, cliff, etc. Motion capturing also belongs to TTT, although the motions are the same as the previous Tekken, they look even better when performed on the PS2.
To talk solely about TTT's visuals now, I'll say that the game's backgrounds are excellent. When fights progress you may see anything from spectators, to floor sweepers, to helicopters even to guards patrolling beneath your fighting action. Little things like that excel Tekken Tag over any fighter on the market. Once again the jaggies aren't there anymore, thus the action is much more cleaner and smoother than it was before, creating a more organic feel on the battle ground. Tekken Tag's lighting effects are great, each stage is excellently lit to capture the atmosphere for the specific area, some stages may be decorated with torches, while others with the pure ray of the sun, then there are some that are light with stadium lights. Instead of using a CG as an intro, Namco used the game engine (real time) to create an intro just like it did for with Tekken 3. Although there is a CG in TTT, it's a second intro, yet again a lot like Tekken 3, the quality is flawless. The visuals for the CG are nearly replicating humans, the skin, the faces, the movement, everything about the CG opening is to die for. Thanks to the newly refined visuals, TTT is a work of art, which tons of great flare and most of all nice eye candy, this is trully the most visually enhanced fighter out there right now.
If you have played Tekken 2 or 3 to death and you are bored of the concept, then the "Tag" feature will do you no good. But if you are like me and are a die-hard fan of the Tekken series, then you will pick up TTT for any reason. As you may have noticed by now the latest craze in fighters is some sort of a 'tag' feature. The Capcom VS series started it all, then Tekken followed, now Tecmo has hopped on with their Dead or Alive 2 brawler. TTT is basically Tekken 3.5, the biggest differences is the character selection, the slight gameplay tweaks, and the tag feature. For starters TTT has every single Tekken fighter to date, that includes all the Tekken 2 fighters that were left out from Tekken 3, so you now have a total of 36 fighters jam packed into one gem fighter, that is not including Gon and the DR, because they aren't Namco's property. Every character has different costumes in the game, some have up to 6 while others only 1 or 2, and no none of them are perverted in any way, so the little ones are allowed to play this game.
The gameplay modes in Tekken Tag Tournament include, Arcade, Team Battle, Versus, One on One (classic Tekken fighting) and a variety of secret ones that need to be unlocked by beating the game with specific characters and ways. Now what gave Tekken 3 its extra replay value was the Force Mode and Beach Ball Mode, although the modes didn't make their return in TTT, new ones did. Tekken Bowl and Gallery Mode are the new recruits, while the basic Theater Mode has been resurrected and re-introduced in TTT. Tekken Bowl mode is earned by finishing the game numerous of times until Orge is unlocked, the Gallery mode opens when Devil is unlocked. Moving on, the tagging works a lot like Capcom's VS series, but you have an option, you can either play throughout the game with tagging or you can play one on one. Playing Arcade mode will open up secret characters and other nifty things, but One on One won't do that for you. Unlike Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games, Tekken games have always had different final bosses, and this time around TTT's boss is an "Unkown" soul, you see a women with a wolf's soul floating behind her, she mimics everything the soul does. This fighter is tricky because it regains lives at a normal rate, so you will have to do some serious and quick damage to beat it. Tagging is very simple, you can call in your partner by tapping R1 or moving the right analog stick once, and the second fighter will come out. This is about it, TTT's gameplay is basically Tekken 3 with some new fine adjustments, but the game is still a must have for any PS2 owner out there, great stuff!
When it comes down to the sound, I like it a lot. The music is techno-based and has some marvelously impressive tunes behind it to keep the action alive and flowing on the battle screen at all times. I like the beats and its weird how almost every arena comes alive when the music sounds off, Namco did a great job of fitting the music with the stages. Though I'm disappointed that the Tekken series hasn't received some sort of voice acting treatment, I thought that the Michelle-Julia ending in Tekken 3 was pretty cool and thought maybe Namco would evaluate from there, but I guess they missed it, oh well there's always Tekken 4. All in all, good audio with some first rate techno music.
I don't know if I should explain myself in the control category, most of you reading this may have played a Tekken title at a point in your life, but for the four of you who didn't, I will explain. Tekken Tag's combos and moves are executed the same way as they were in Tekken 3. To help you beginners out there the game also has a move list, which can be viewed by pressing Start. What ticks me off is that unlike DOA2, in TTT you can't use your analog stick(s) to move around freely in the arena by walking up and down as well left and right. If more freedom was involved with Tekken then the overall gameplay experience may have been better as well, and would have scored in the mid 9's, but I'll still take Tekken Tag the way it is.
I wouldn't say that Tekken Tag Tournament is really a breath of fresh air, because the game doesn't really bring anything new to the series, but TTT is still an excellent fighter that deserves all the praise it can get. If you were one of the luckier people out there who nabbed a PS2 on day one, then go out and pick up a copy of Tekken Tag Tournament, especially if you are a Tekken or fighting fan, you owe it to yourself to purchase what is currently the best fighting on any console, sorry DOA2 and Soul Calibur, I like my Tekken and that's just the way it is. If you already have Tekken Tag Tournament then go pick up a PS2 Multi-tap and tap in the fun that the game offers with four players, you won't regret it.