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.

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds: Early Access Review

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is an epic 100 person struggle between aggressive enemy hunting and careful self-preservation. Each match begins with you and up to 99 other players in an aircraft headed for the huge map on which the battle royale takes place. Once your boots are on the ground, you will be warned that the ‘play area’ will soon restrict itself. Where on the map it will restrict itself to is randomised. You have a limited amount of time to make it to that play area before the map starts to close in around you, damaging you if you’re caught outside. This leads to frantic vehicle-based cross-country journeys, nasty close encounters and early scrambles to find suitable weapons with which to defend yourself.

Battlegrounds is currently in its early access stage, which means that there are a few graphical hiccups (such as the annoying glitch which didn’t load building textures and wouldn’t let me into houses) and gameplay issues that will need to be addressed further into development. However, it is still at its core a very enjoyable experience. You will find that it’s fairly difficult to predict what will happen in each match. You have a plethora of options and plenty of decisions to make from the outset. Whether you choose to jump from the plane early or late, whether you approach towns or stay on outskirts, whether you engage an enemy or not. It is all entirely up to you and it can bring on a variety of different outcomes. If you play too safe, you may not be as well equipped for the final battles you’re forced to engage in by the continually decreasing circle of play. If you play too aggressively, you’ll die at the hands of someone with a cooler head. There are NO respawns, so there’s a real need to manage the situation.

The sense of unpredictability is a good thing overall, but there are times when you find yourself running for what feels like forever, only to arrive within a safe zone just to be gunned down. You’ll suffer from a lot of frustration if you’re unlucky, but that’s probably the harshest criticism that can be made in my point of view. If you’re looking for something consistent and fast-paced, then this game is not for you. If you are willing to be patient, the game can be extremely rewarding.

There is a level of customisation to be used. In matches, you can find scopes and various peripherals to attach to your guns in order to maximise their effectiveness. Outside of matches, there are clothing options which are purely cosmetic. To unlock these options, you exchange battle points for crates. Not an uncommon practice for the modern era of video games, admittedly. Of course, there’s an option to use real money to buy the crates, but since the rewards have no bearing on your overall performance in game, then there isn’t much of an ethical issue. It should only be viewed as a way of rewarding the developers for a good game, and the rewards you get from the crates are a small token of appreciation on their part. There’s absolutely no need to purchase them otherwise.

There are three game modes at the moment: solo, duo and squad. Each brings its own set of challenges. Playing in a squad can provide extra cover but you’ll find yourself competing with your team-mates for the best weapons and you may disagree on strategy. Playing alone leaves the decision making up to you but can also mean you struggle to survive. In team games, you get ‘knocked out’ before death, and there’s a chance for revival. In solo mode, if you get downed, you die. It’s worth bouncing from one mode to another in order to keep things fresh.

At this point in time, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is a suspenseful, thrilling survival game which continually draws the player back in for “just one more match”. The game evokes all sorts of emotions, from the sheer terror of hearing footsteps upstairs in a house, to the unparalleled joy of finding an assault rifle and being further assured that you’ll live that bit longer. It’s a simple concept, which becomes more complicated through strategy and player choice. This game has bags of potential, and at the current cost of £27, it’s worth it. I cannot wait to see what else gets added before full release.

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.