Tekken 7: Fighting Games and ‘Finishers’

The Tekken Franchise has been at the forefront of fighting games since as early as 1994. Combo-based, fast-paced combat has been a staple of the genre since its first inception, and this edition doesn’t break from the mould too much. Tekken 7 is, at its best, an intricate and satisfying game and at its worst, a clunky and overly casual mess.

Most of the game will seem familiar to those who have played a Tekken game before. The roster is largely the same, despite a change in costume for most (especially Yoshimitsu, who has now become more octopus than anything else). The move sets, as could be predicted, are either the same or very similar for most of the characters. You can easily pick up your favourites and play them from the offset without issue. Combos work the same. Timing your hits in order to maximise damage and manage your opponents’ mobility still works the same. You still have the same controls and the game has the same feel to it.

So, what HAS changed?

Well, obviously, there’s a new story to follow. Without wanting to spoil anything, I can say that it left me pretty disappointed. My experience was limited, having only played through it once as Jin, but in that time it felt more like an interactive B-movie than a narrative with depth and direction. Cut-scenes are drawn out for as long as possible, which is made infinitely worse by their lack of quality and by the simplicity of beating the AI in a matter of seconds in the rounds before and after them. It’s difficult to become immersed in the plot and it often feels rushed and devoid of real direction.

Further to that, in disappointing news, there are now ‘finishers’ in the game. If you are being dominated by your opponent, you build up a hidden ‘rage’ meter. Maxing this out allows you to activate a ‘rage’ move which decimates a large portion of your enemy’s health. While not necessarily the same as a ‘fatality’ in the Mortal Kombat series, there are comparisons to be drawn in that they are visually spectacular and on many occasions, brutal. For those of us who enjoy Tekken’s traditionally straight-talking, no-nonsense approach to beat-em-ups, having such an option seems rather cheap. While it is understandable that getting juggled and destroyed without recourse is not enjoyable, pressing one button that turns the fight in your favour out of nothing is disappointing and a little underwhelming. Of course, there are ways to block or avoid these new moves. To a seasoned veteran, there will be little to no adjustment periods. However if like me, you and a few friends like to play fighting games casually, you may find this new addition to be unfair and somewhat irritating. It has the capacity to rob the game of truly exciting moments, when you’re one or two hits away from claiming victory, only to be rolled over at the push of a single button. It will leave you either elated or furious on many occasions and it seems alien to a Tekken game.

Tekken 7, however, is STILL Tekken. The wealth of characters is still present and the combat continues to be exhilarating. The winning formula is largely unchanged other than the ‘rage’ blip and it is still an undeniably fun way to kill a few hours either alone, online or with friends. The matches are quick and will raise your heart rate, especially when your opponent’s ‘rage’ meter is full and you need to try to bait them into wasting it. The quirky customisation system has been improved upon and you will find yourself scrimping on your in-game currency to buy the goofiest outfits for your favourite characters. A personal highlight is the Jenga stack you can place on your character’s head.

Tekken 7 is what it is. Is it better than Tekken Tag Tournament 2? Probably not, but it is still a satisfying game which will appeal to a wide audience even if it does use a few cheap tactic to get there.

Overwatch: Orisa Goes LIVE! Thoughts and Opinions

Yesterday (21st of March), the 24th character to join the Overwatch roster was made live. She’s the third new character to be added to the game since launch. She’s a large, omnic quadraped armed with a gatling gun and a robotic Nigerian accent, which is as amazing as it sounds. She champions justice and protecting the public, giving off serious RoboCop vibes. She was built by eleven-year-old Efi Oladele, as an almost immediate response to an attack on Numbani by Doomfist (who we’re bound to see introduced to the game soon). She plays the tank role and comes equipped with 200 health, 200 armour. That’s the lowest of the tanks, and on par with Zarya. Zarya’s shields DO regenerate, however, meaning Orisa has lower survivability than her counterparts.

I spend most of my time playing tanks or supports on Overwatch, and so I was excited to get to grips with this new character. These are my thoughts on how she plays:

Pros:

Her kit borrows from the kits of other heroes, and so is quite easy to get used to. Her E ability is a deploy-able barrier with 900 health, not unlike Reinhardt’s shield. Her shift ability fortifies her and protects her from crowd control abilities such as Pharah’s concussive blast, or Lucio’s “boop”, among others. Her right-click is a mini-graviton surge which pulls enemies together and groups them up. Her ultimate, a “supercharger”, is dropped into the heat of battle to power up the damage output of her nearby allies. The damage increase is seemingly comparable to Mercy’s. Overall, her kit makes few unique strides in terms of gameplay changes, but is also incredibly useful to have in one character.

Her gun is a joy to use. It has a clip of 150, and fires from three barrels, making it feel like a death machine when used appropriately. Not only that, but I couldn’t help smiling with glee at the sound the gun makes. It’s a joy to listen to it while you mow your enemies down. The damage output isn’t ridiculously high, but you can still leave a noticeable mark on your opponents.

Her ultimate is probably the best thing about her. If you place it strategically, it can provide an insane amount of support to your team-mates, and can shift the tide of battles in your favour. The only downside is that it can be destroyed easier than Symmetra’s ultimates, so you’ll have be careful where you place it. I find myself thinking back to the last game I played as Orisa. We had a Bastion on top of the payload, being boosted by the supercharger AND a nano boost from Ana. The results were predictably chaotic and joyful.

Cons:

She has very low mobility, and no abilities to counteract that. If you’re going to play Orisa, you have to be absolutely certain to put yourself in positions where you’ll have an escape route, or you’ll find yourself dead more often than not.

Her health isn’t very high for a tank. She can easily be targeted and taken out by some offensive characters, and has no healing properties of her own. It is paramount to her survival to make good use of her barrier and to stay with team-mates. You cannot solo-tank as Orisa. It is not an option.

Her head is an easy target. I found that characters such as Reaper or Tracer were really enjoying getting in behind me, and picking me off before I could even think about trying to get away. Flankers will rejoice at this news.

Fortify is incredibly difficult to time properly. I have only used it successfully a handful of times at this stage.

Conclusion:

Above all, Orisa is fun to play, but she is not without her weaknesses. I find that without adequate protection from others, she struggles to survive. She cannot easily disengage from a combat scenario, so to use her properly, you need to stay as a group.

Her kit is incredibly useful and enjoyable to use, and she definitely has a place in the meta. To me, however, she seems like a complementary character. Her place is beside other tanks, rather than as a tank on her own. It feels like she could have been put in the support category just as easily.

In any case, I’m enjoying my time with her so far and I can’t wait to see how she’s used when she’s finally enabled in competitive play. She’s certain to shake up the meta for better or for worse.

Thanks for reading.

 

EA Origin Access and The Death of The Demo

Yesterday I wrote a piece about my Mass Effect: Andromeda First Impressions in which I made mention of gaining access to a trial version of the game through EA’s Origin ‘Access’ system. This was my first experience with the service or any service like it.

For those who don’t know about EA Origin Access – it’s a subscription service that offers you access to free copies of old games, ‘trial’ versions of upcoming games, and discounts for existing, recent games. The subscription fee stands at around £4 for a month, or £20 for a year.

Many of you may remember being a child or a young adult and buying a gaming magazine with a bonus insert – usually a disc containing demos to multiple, upcoming, would-be AAA games of their time. They could also be included in cereal boxes, or you could find somewhere online to download a demo on your old-school internet connection. Now, I can’t remember the last time I got to play a demo as an added extra that came with a magazine or from anywhere else. That’s not to say that they categorically don’t exist anymore, and “free” multiplayer betas are prominent. Overall, however, the gaming industry and journalism in general have moved away from magazines and as a result physical, free demos are far less common. EA have seized this opportunity in their development of EOA. 

This raises a semi-moral question – Is EOA justified? Is it fair to charge for trial versions of games when in the past, they’d be accessible for free? Yes, EOA allows gamers to access some other, older games for free, and there are discounts available for other products as well, but as a whole, is it fair?

I am of the opinion that charging for access to demos is an inherently bad thing. Yes, you’ll get a discount on the final game with EOA, but the idea that they’re going to develop a version of the game for demonstration purposes and hold that back from a large number of people who aren’t willing to pay doesn’t sit right with me.

It isn’t EOA that scares me. I actually think that on balance, it’s a decent service. If you use it properly, you may end up saving money, but that’s only if you use it enough and you never run into a game whose full version isn’t appealing enough to you. It’s the precedent that services like EOA sets which worries me more than anything. At what point does it become too much about prying our money from us before a game is even released? Does it not drive a wedge between gamers who are willing and able to pay, and those who aren’t? While EOA doesn’t break the bank, it offers a real-life “pay to win” scheme and as a result, it segregates those who can pay and those who can’t. It makes the playing field unlevel, and the only way to level it again is by shelling out a subscription fee.

The solution for me would be to offer a subscription service which offers discounts and free copies of older games which may have fallen through the cracks, but make the service cheaper and leave demos out of it.

I sincerely hope that the likes of Origin Access aren’t the beginning of something much worse. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in future, developers did away with the subscription service and charged fees per demo. The whole idea seems like an attempt to gauge whether people are okay with paying to play demos, and the more we all buy into it, the more encouraged they’ll become to further divide the user base for monetary gain.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but the signs are there. Free demos may be very much a thing of the past, but let’s try to avoid making paid demos a thing of the future. If you ever have the option to pay a one-off fee for the trial version of a game, don’t do it.

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment.

 

First blog post

Hello everyone.

This is a blog set up with the goal of providing a down-to-earth, casual view on all things entertainment. Video games will be the focus, but other forms of media will occasionally creep in.

If you’re sick of mainstream reviews and are jaded by the current state of journalism, this is a place where you can come for a no-nonsense, straightforward review of popular (and at times unpopular) new and old releases.

Good luck, have fun,

Jonnie.