Review by King Broccoli

" FOR SALE: 6 Alsation Puppies, 2 weeks old, minimal bitemarks. All enquiries inside please."

Tekken was one of the first PSX games ever released, and the whole Tekken trilogy has become one of the most famous gaming franchises around. It should come as no surprise that one of the PS2 launch games was in fact a Tekken game, a port of the arcade game Tekken Tag Tournament. It keeps the same basic Tekken gameplay, but introduces the ability to tag in a partner along with a whole lot of flashy graphics and an absolute truckload of playable characters. I've seen more original concepts in one of those American sitcoms where two completely different people marry and have madcap adventures, but it's still fun enough to keep a person reasonably happy.

GAMEPLAY
If anybody out there has played Tekken 3 on the PSX...no don't go hide behind those bushes...I can see you....YES! YOU! YOU HAVE PLAYED TEKKEN 3! If you have played this game, you should have the gist of how TTT is going to work. There is only one new character, all the rest of them are from the previous instalments, so getting into the swing of things is insanely easy. All of the moves have been kept the same, with a few new inclusions to make everything that much more interesting. This also means that the same cheap tricks can be carried over from the earlier games, so it's debatable whether a new setup would have been nice.

The controls are very easy to come to grips with, the four main action buttons will make a different limb attack, depending on which one you happen to push, the D-Pad moves you around! Tekken 2 and 3 let you assign double button pushes (X + O etc.) to the top four buttons, which were very useful in performing certain moves. It's unfortunate that these buttons had to be used for tagging, as it is now that much harder to do what you'd like to do when you want to do it. The controls are very responsive, and shouldn't trouble people THAT much, it's a game that you can pick up and play straight away, but mastery of it takes months.

The moves you can do aren't very flashy, but they certainly do look painful and are a lot more realistic than a lot of those other fighters out there. There's not really such a thing as a projectile in this game, and mnost of the moves are based around bone-jarring contact. To do them you'll usually have to combine combinations of the arrows and the 4 action buttons. Simple moves are easy to pull off and tougher ones will take a fair bit of practice and some fast moving fingers. You can also perform chains, lengthy combinations of moves, and reversals if you manage to get you're timing right. Success in this game is actually all about timing, when to attack and such. It's a lot more strategic than a lot of those other fighting games out there.

Speaking of characters (<- Weak Link) there are in fact 34 of them in the game. Pretty much all of them from Tekken 2 and Tekken 3 with the exception of Dr. B and Gon. Rather than just picking one character and mastering his strategy things have become a little bit deeper than that. You know have to get an effective tag team that can work in harmony with each other to make life difficult for another team. They can only interact a little bit with basic moves, but having two characters opens up the game a little bit more.

There's a lot of Game Modes for you to try your hand at, most of them involve normal fighting, just under slightly different circumstances. You've got your arcade mode, have seven fights before taking on the boss, this is where you go to unlock all the characters and other special things like that! There's also survivor, VS mode, 1 on 1, 1 on 1 VS, team battle, and even an options mode (which has recieved the most playtime from me)! The newer introductions are rather fun, there's a Tekken Bowl mode in which you take your tag-team to Mishimi Lane for a game or two of tenpin. There's also a little thing called Gallery mode, where you can actually save screenshots for later viewing, this mode has been proved to be useless with no long-term appeal. These game modes are enough to keep you playing for months, they have variety, depth and the potential for enjoyment.

Overall, the gameplay of Tekken Tag Tournament is everything the people have come to expect and a little bit more. There's nothing astonishingly new here, but since the Tekken series has always been so enjoyable why should anyone complain? Tagging, bowling and staring at pretty graphics is a good enough change for a first generation game.

GRAPHICS
Tekken Tag Tournament would have to be one of the prettiest games out for the PS2 at the moment, it's taken the graphics from Tekken 3, smoothed them out and increased the levels of detail and all-round beauty dramatically. The characters look what can only be described as amazing, considering each character now has more polygons in a single arm than the earlier characters had in their whole bodies....they look very darn good. Most of the facial expressions you see are very good, their features are all designed nicely and they always have a very nasty expression on their face. The bodies of the characters are the things that younger women dream about (make sure you realise this is only the male bodies they would dream about), seeing those lovely pecs and various other muscly things nearly makes a person want to go all fruity! They all have very nice animations, accurate and smooth and all those other important redeeming features. I'm sure if you saw a person performing the same types of martial arts moves in the real world then they would look pretty similar. As a whole the characters are very nice, they look good, feel good, and smell good.

The backgrounds have been done even better than the characters, they look superb. You've got a nice variety of places to do battle in, and none of them ever drop the ball graphically. Choose the snowfield level and you'll be pelted with a continuous stream of sleet and hail, move out into the grassy plains and watch the grass as it gets flattened when a fighter falls on it. Perhaps the most impressive graphical feature is in the levels with marble or puddles of water on the ground, you can actually see reflections of the backdrops in these! It's the attention to detail like this that makes it so good. To make the levels seem like they're never ending Namco use some kind of scrolling, rotating thing between the foreground and background. Sometimes there is a problem with this feature, you can see the join between the two sections, they spin unevenly and it looks very corny and weird. It can be very unsettling, but thankfully is the only major flaw. Not too many big problems here with all of the backgrounds.

The movies in Tekken 3 won a fair bit of popularity because they looked so special, they make sort of a return here, but don't make the impact on the game one would have liked. The only CG movies are shown as intro's at the start of the game, and for one character. The rest of them are done using in-game action, and while this of course doesn't look too bad, it would have been nice to have something more. It also would have been nice if the movies actually made sense, but we can't have everything. Overall, the graphics of TTT are a nice example of what the PS2 can do, and really make a person wonder what the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation games will be capable of. A few glitches and the like, but nothing major.

SOUND
The sound is all very nice and arcadey, filled with all sorts of noises that will appeal to people with ears. The background music is made up of a lot of tunes, most of them are upbeat, fast-paced tracks that really capture the semi-frantic action that all Tekken players love so. All of the tracks display a different type of sound despite having the same premise, and I suppose that's where the variety comes into it. There aren't really any stand out tracks in the game, just a nice solid collection of tunes that won't got overly tiring in a relatively short period of time. Now, make sense of the last two sentences!

There is a very nice collection of sound effects to accompany the background music. There's an enormous amount of contact sounds, so when you go around punching or kicking someone you're not going to hear the same sounds too often. There's not too much expertise in doing voice acting for a fighting game, with all the grunting and shrieking needed, the best credentialed people are those in the porno movie industry. But despite how primitive it all is, it's been done properly. All of the characters have distinctly different voices, and their shrieks of pain and other noises all sound as realistic as possible. It's quite easy to feel sorry for an attackee, such is the expertise of the delivery. There are other miscellaneous sound effects floating around the game, they sound good, anything else you need to know?

Overall, the sound does a fair job of accompanying the graphics and the on-screen action. If you don't actually have any ears then you won't enjoy it as much as everyone else, but everyone else should find the sound to their liking.

LIFESPAN
One thing that the lack of originality hurts is the longevity of the game. Considering you've done most of it before, you're going to have a very low tolerance with the game and will be very likely to get sick of it a lot quicker. If you've played Tekken 3 to death, this just won't be different enough to also play to death. The tagging and stuff like that will give you a bit of novelty, but it will soon wear off and you'll realise how mundane it can actually get.

FUN FACTOR
The fun factor is hurt just as the lifespan is, only not to the same extent. It will start off being immensely enjoyable, and if you haven't actually played Tekken 3 it will stay that way for a very long time. However if you have played that game you just won't get the same kicks out of it, it will give you a good amount of fun for a little while, but it just won't seem like enough. There are definitely better fun factors lying around, but this shouldn't stop you from considering the game.

CHALLENGE
The challenge of Tekken Tag Tournament is very well-rounded, offering all different levels of difficulty to people of all ranges of expertise. The computer players can range anywhere from easily beatable to damn tough, and then there is of course the option to play 2, 3 or 4 player. Getting a good challenge is going to be the least of your problems with this game, it may take a little bit of searching but you will find some kind of opponent who will give you a run for your money.

THE FINAL PARAGRAPH
Tekken Tag Tournament is a damn fine fighting games, and one of the top Playstation 2 games out at the moment, but it's held back by a distinct lack of originality. Because of these stunning similarites to the earlier games, if you have experienced the other Tekkens at length you might be better off trying out Dead or Alive 2. It might not give you the same type of fighting glory that Tekken will give a person, but at least it's something new for you to try. You could consider getting it if you really like tenpin bowling, tagging and having way too many characters to choose from, but goshdarnit! WHY COULDN'T THERE BE MORE NEW STUFF?
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GOOD POINTS
- It's Tekken, Tekken rules
- 34 characters is more than enough
- Tekken Bowl is an enlightening game mode

NOT SO GOOD POINTS
- It's Tekken....YAWN, originality please!
- Slightly inferior lifespan
- Not So Good Point #1 is so good, imagine it here as well
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GRAPHICS - 10/10
SOUND - 8/10
GAMEPLAY - 9/10
LIFESPAN - 6/10
FUN FACTOR - 7/10
CHALLENGE - 9/10
OVERALL - 8/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/06/01, Updated 09/10/01


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