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.