Tekken 6 Review
Tekken has long been one of videogaming's biggest properties, thanks to the massive growth it experienced on the original PlayStation. Now, as many of us have seen, the fighting genre is experiencing a bit of rebirth at the moment, one that is largely fueled by the release of Street Fighter IV earlier this year. Games like Virtua Fighter and SoulCalibur have both appeared on next-gen platforms, but both failed to amass the type of sales and hype that Street Fighter IV garnered. But it can be argued that perhaps Virtua Fighter simply isn't as big as SF, and that SoulCalibur, while extremely popular at one point, has fallen due a lack of true creativity. Ultimately, Tekken is still more popular than Virtua Fighter and SoulCalibur, but does Tekken 6 live up to the popularity and fandom?
Immediately, I noticed one major issue with Tekken 6 as soon as I booted it up. The loading times. Now, I'm usually not one to nitpick load times, but for a series that has historically had lightning quick loading, why is Tekken 6 so slow in that regard? Matches can take up to 20 seconds to load, and navigating from the main menu into a game mode takes as much as 10-15. Thankfully, a five minute install takes care of all of this and cuts down the loading considerably, albeit it's still not quite as zippy as past games.
With that out of the way, how does Tekken play? Well, there is virtually no feeling of being lost, as all of the classic commands for every fighter have been retained, in addition to an assortment of new actions that have been added. Fluidity is still the top priority of the franchise, and it shows as comboing looked and felt effortless if you know what you're doing. Each and every character still possesses unique attributes that makes him or her feel completely different - and when you have a total of 40 characters, that's a commendable feat to achieve. So with a massive roster of 40 fighters to choose from, you have a very wide assortment of fighters and fighter-types to choose from. But Tekken 6 remains unlike other fighting games. Take Virtua Fighter, it tends to focus a lot more on being very technical, and so loses accessibility in the process. That's not a knock on the Sega franchise, it's simply the truth. Tekken, on the other hand, manages a perfect mixture of being both accessible and very deep simultaneously. All you need to know is that if you've played a Tekken game before, you'll feel right at home here.
Now, all 40 characters are unlocked from the very start. Some may like it, some may not. Regardless of your preference, if you're a perfectionist, you're still going to want to see every single ending in the game. If you're not the perfectionist type, then you'll want to know that a majority of the endings aren't worth seeing. So don't feel disappointed when you finish the game with Lili only to see some terrible ending. Likewise, a number of the endings are the same or similar for two characters, for example: Christie and Eddy, Lili, Asuka and Panda, Raven and Dragunov, and Kuma and Heihachi all share endings. There are a number of proper and more serious endings, some of which are really cool, but those are particularly limited to characters like Armor King, King, Marduk, Jin, Kazuya, Yoshimitsu, Hwoarang, Baek, and Wang. Many of the endings are threaded and feature numerous fighters in them, so in order to see the full story, you'll have to unlock the specific other fighters from that ending to see the rest. Likewise, some of the characters also have two endings which helps counter the amount of pointless or lame endings Tekken 6 boasts.
But of course, for those looking for something new, there are still a ton of enhancements and additions made to the fighters, such as the Rage system. And what would a Tekken game be without a whole bunch of game modes to choose from? An all new Tekken Scenario Campaign mode is featured here, and in a way, this is actually the core of the game, as the adventure and its ending seems to be the aim and focus of Tekken 6's storyline. Much like the past Tekken Force mode, Scenario Campaign is a beat'em-up adventure where you take control of a new character named Lars, as he and an unexpected accomplice, Alisa, fight together in order to destroy the Mishima Zaibatsu and the G Corporation. Now, some of you may be excited by the prospect of a full blown Tekken Force with nearly two hours of cut-scenes. But I suggest you contain your excitement. Not only are the mechanics for the mode clumsy, but the story is absolutely awful. These cut-scenes are without question some of the most boring storytelling this generation has seen. Namco would have been better leaving the Scenario Campaign alone as a mini-game, and incorporating the story directly into the Iron Fist battles, instead.
Lastly, I also wouldn't get excited for the online, either. The netcode isn't very refined and experiences a number of issues, which Namco should be addressing, but still hasn't just yet. Furthermore, the Campaign mode doesn't have any co-operative gameplay, which it seems to be designed for, and once again, Namco has said they may likely issue an update for that.
As far as the aesthetics go, the game now boasts a notably bigger bump in animation and its smoothness. Despite how nice the fighters animated in Tekken Tag, Tekken 4, and Tekken 5, Tekken 6 manages to outdo them all considerably - bravo, Namco. Fighter details are very nice, but it's the stages that looked really fantastic and steal the show, featuring destruction and numerous levels. The art direction shines here yet again, making this one pretty game to appreciate. But, perceptive gamers may notice that Tekken 6 isn't a very sharp looking game. And if you've noticed that, you're right. Unfortunately, Tekken 6 is not a full 720p game, so that soft haziness you see is a result of that. The game runs a resolution of 576p, which is considerably lower than this generation's status quo. We're not quite sure why the game runs at this resolution, because the arcade game, which is based on PS3 architecture, runs at 720p...but we'll just have to chalk it up to multiplatformitis. Textures in the environments aren't always so pretty to look at, and the cloudiness of the resolution only looks worse the larger your TV set. Running Tekken 6 on a 60" Pioneer Kuro wasn't exactly a pleasing experience, granted it did look better on the TV in my office, a 1080p Samsung LN32B. Still, we're simply way too far in this generation to be seeing sub-HD resolutions.
Then we have the audio, which I found to be extremely odd. The game splits the voice acting between Japanese and English, with no option to choose which you want to hear exclusively. It gets pretty annoying when you have to read what Lars and Alisa (neither of which are of Japanese decent) are saying during the Scenario Campaign, especially considering how boring the story is. Two hours of boring dialogue, and you have to read most of it. In this Campaign, you'll also see Eddy and Nina speak English to Jin, and Jin reply in Japanese - it just feels disorienting; either sub it all and leave it Japanese, or give us a choice like most Japanese games do. The soundtrack is pretty good, as are the rest of the sound effects, but you probably already knew that.
I'd have to say this, though, I went back to my PS3's XMB and selected Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection HD, and I felt like it was somehow the better game. It doesn't boast any unnecessary campaigns, it's still extremely tight as far as balance and mechanics, and it's character roster is still very large. In addition to all of that, the PS3's HD Tekken 5 is playable online, boasts an assortment of gameplay modes, and still looks quite nice with its proper 1080p resolution (unlike Tekken 6) and the 60 frames per second. Which leaves me wondering, what exactly is the point of spending $60 on Tekken 6? If you're a real die-hard fan, then there's no stopping you from already owning this game. But if you're a money-conscious gamer who wants a solid fighter, wait it out for a price drop, or just go and get Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection from the PlayStation Network, you'll save yourself quite a lot of money, for a very comparable experience.
11/16/2009 Arnold Katayev