Tekken Tag Tournament Review
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 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. After being pushed from the launch date of PS2, TTT arrived on the 30th of March. Well, see how the game stacks up against other fighters and see if TTT takes the crown from its Dreamcast cousin Soul Calibur.
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 an end to all rumors, remember those stupid comments that some anti-Sony critics said? If you don't let me refresh your memory, a few people at the (I think) Sony Festival 2000 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 is all horsesh*t, Tekken's visuals exceed Soul Calibur's, Street Fighter EX3's and Dead or Alive 2 (PS2 and DC). 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. The jaggies are there, but they barely show themselves, when I play the game I would have to put my face to the screen in-order to see a few measly jaggies, trust me when I say barely noticeable I mean it. Tekken Tag's lighting source in great, each stage is excellently lit to capture the atmosphere for the specific area. 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 basically replicating humans, the skin, the faces, the movement, everything about the CG opening is to die for.
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.
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. 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. 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 soul floating behind her, she mimics everything the soul does. This fighter is tricky because it regains lives pretty fast, so you will have to do some serious damage to beat it. Tagging is very simple, you tap R1 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!
Sound, this is the one thing that I didn't expect to change, TTT's sound quality is great like it has always been. What would have made me give this game a near perfect score is some voice acting, I'm pretty used to hearing voice acting in many of today's fighters and it wouldn't hurt to see some in TTT. But still, Namco delivers some great tunes to battle out to, in case your wondering techno is the genre in sound.
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.
I would'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 either own a PS2, or plan to importing it, then I give you the get go to go buy your self Tekken Tag Tournament and a Multi-Tap. Tekken retails for about 5,300 Yen ($55) and about $75 on the US import market.
4/17/2000 Arnold Katayev