Tekken Hybrid Review
Certain franchises age well, while others, despite the addition of a high-gloss coat of modern paint, really show their age. Unfortunately, Tekken is one of the latter franchises. And while Tekken Hybrid offers the now-classic gameplay that resulted in thousands of dorm parties and plenty of friendly competition (with a wee bit of real animosity), the overall package isn’t that impressive, nor is it worth $40.
The upgraded visuals shine nicely in some areas, but somehow make the game look really bizarre in some instances. Tekken Tag Tournament’s character are strangely lit with odd hues and shadows, and the background appears to have been altered as well (and not for the better). The graphics in Prologue 2 fare much better, though, and while the movie is totally weak-sauce, there’s a lot of crisp high-definition goodness included.
The sound is basically the same from yesteryear; very little seems to have changed on this front. The combat effects in TTT HD are a little muddled but then again, they always were in my ears. For the most part, you don’t have to worry about mediocre voice performances that have aged badly, ‘cuz Tekken wasn’t ever about stellar voice acting. As for the soundtrack, it’s definitely a highlight, if only because it enhances the nostalgia value big time.
Tekken Hybrid comes packed with Tekken Tag Tournament HD, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue, and the aforementioned film, “Tekken: Blood Vengeance.” Fans would probably anticipate an attractive trip down memory lane and although that may be the case for some, the package simply pales in comparison to other HD revamps out there. In too many ways, the whole thing feels…old. Or at the very least, outdated and uninteresting.
For me, something like Metal Gear Solid has never felt “old” or “uninteresting,” and I’m sure many would agree. In this case, we can only rely on the gameplay; the visual presentation doesn’t respond well to the high-def treatment, and there are a few other problems as well. For TTT, they really didn’t do anything to this, besides give the characters an inhuman glow that is actually annoying. But at least you get exactly what you remember, so that’s a plus, right?
Really, the gameplay isn’t bad because of course, it was never bad. So if they didn’t change anything, hardcore fans should still have a blast reliving their glory days with the PS2 launch title. But there’s no online support to be found and without any new modes or extra content of any kind, it feels as if Namco did little in the way of fanservice. I mean, the term “fanservice” is often taken in a negative context but when it comes to revamped collections, “fanservice” is a good thing.
And there just isn’t enough of it. For instance, take Prologue: four characters from the “Vengeance” movie are involved (Devil Jin, Kazuya, Alisa, and Xiaoyu), and you get to sample the new project. But we don’t get a move list (which I need, considering I’m a fighting noob) and besides this quick glimpse of the future, there isn’t much else here. Still, I have to admit that Namco Bandai has produced another great Tekken installment; it released in arcades this past September, by the way.
No word on when it will arrive for consoles, but we hope it’s soon. At least that will be a complete package, and this sneak peek, while limited, is enough to whet the fighter fan’s appetite. As for the movie in this bundle, it’s a CG adventure that isn’t exactly inspired or well written. The environment is super cool and fits in with the Tekken universe, but that’s the best that can be said for it. I also can’t figure out why I care about two schoolgirls talking about boyfriends.
I will say that I have never been a fan of this series, so you may take this review with a grain of salt if you wish. However, I’ve played just about all the HD collections this generation, and most all of them offer more extra stuff, and they also look ten times better. Maybe it was the over-pixelation and the extreme “jagginess” that the high-def overhaul can’t erase, but something weird happens when high definition is applied to TTT. Prologue is a bright – albeit small – spot, though.
Tekken Hybrid has the nostalgia fans will adore, I’m sure. For that reason alone, I suppose I can recommend it to the die-hard followers. The peek at Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue is very cool, too (actually makes me want to see the full arcade version). But there’s no online support, the HD sheen on TTT is just plain strange, and there’s virtually no new content or extras; i.e., the expected fanservice is almost nonexistent. Not really worth $40, in my opinion.
Still, it’s Tekken, and its timeless appeal really shouldn’t be ignored. I accept that, as should all gamers.
The Good: Gameplay mechanics are plenty entertaining. The peek at Prologue 2 is an impressive bonus. Some of the CG artistry in the movie is sweet.
The Bad: TTT HD doesn’t look right. Not nearly enough in the way of extras. The film is just terrible. No online support.
The Ugly: “I have no idea why the characters look like that…but make it stop.”
12/8/2011 Ben Dutka