The Tekken series has consistently been one of the top 3D fighters for both arcades and the consoles it has graced. Though it has improved and become deeper over its seven game life span so far, fans have been hungry for another return to the dual character madness of the Tekken Tag Tournament spinoff. Luckily, Namco Bandai has brought out the spinoff once more, throwing in the gameplay systems from Tekken 6 and adding more than just a simple tag function to the title, to make one of the most complex 3D fighters on the market.
For the most part, controls and gameplay for solo characters have not changed much since Tekken 6, comprised of four attack buttons, which could be combined for throws and different strike attacks. In this sequel, not only can players tag in and out during certain attacks and by itself as with the previous Tekken Tag Tournament, but they have access to a new slew of tag actions that will save them in desperate situations or make for ridiculously long combos. Utilizing the rage gauge introduced in Tekken 6, players can trade that for an opportunity to tag a partner in while they’re down, putting an instant stop to the opponent’s momentum. On the other hand, the new tag assault function allows players to continue a combo after a bound attack, putting both partners into the arena as they take turns pulverizing the opponent. While many fighting games have sought to simplify themselves as the years have went on, the Tekken series has not shied itself away from including more fun, albeit complicated, systems that have kept fans coming back.
Though the series has always opted to become one of, if not the, most complex 3D fighter on the market, it has always taken special care to stay within the grasps of casual gamers as well. With many of the game’s attacks being executed by holding a direction and pressing a series of buttons, the game is nowhere near as difficult to start on as 2D fighters like Persona 4 Arena or Street Fighter X Tekken. Additionally, the new fight lab feature takes players from the very easiest features of the system like walking back and forth to utilizing both Tag Assault and multitier stages in one combo. The tutorial is extremely thorough and will teach any gamer about the intricacies of the title. Sadly, there’s still no real way to learn any combos in the game, which will force any half competitive gamer to YouTube, forums, and other outlets to learn the game’s most useful tools.
Graphically, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is an impressive title. Players may not initially feel that way, with barely any improvements over the already-beautifully rendered characters and backgrounds of Tekken 6, but seeing three or even four characters interact on screen at the same time without any frame rate issues on the detailed, multitier stages is visually satisfying. As with any game in the Tekken series, the game’s soundtrack is enjoyable, providing a mix of electronic and other forms of music that helps capture the mood of the stages and action; for the very select few who do not enjoy the music, they’re free to replace it with other music, including their own that may be on the Playstation 3. As with the last title, the customization extends to all the characters, giving players a chance to infuse any character with their own creativity.
Online play is a key issue with any fighting game and it has been an area where all other Tekken titles have fared moderately well, providing a fair experience but never quite reaching the experience comparable to offline matches. Tekken Tag Tournament 2‘s netcode remains similar to its predecessors and will hardly replace offline competition, but it provides a fun distraction for Tekken diehards when there’s no friends to play with. The new Tekken World Federation is an interesting addition, and something that other fighting games could stand to include; it keeps track of various in depth stats like combo damage in addition to the all-important win-loss ratio. After a while, it becomes a source of pride and way for players to measure one another’s skill level.
It may not be Tekken 7, but hardcore fighters could honestly care less with the title’s contents. It’s jam packed with fan favorite characters, including some like Jun and Roger who have been long gone in the story’s canon, making this a true fan’s dream. On the gameplay end, this is certainly one of the most complicated Tekken titles yet, including all the systems from Tekken 6 and throwing in more to spice up the tag feature. Whether a Tekken aficionado or not, no fighting gamer should pass on this.
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Namco Bandai; Developer: Namco Bandai; Players: 1 – 4; Released: September 11, 2012; ESRB: Teen; MSRP: $59.99; Official Site
Note: A retail copy was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.