Review by stonedwal

"Tekken it to the PS2"

The Tekken series are probably amongst the favourite games of many people around the world. When it comes to fighting games, Tekken are the most popular, taking the crown from Virtua Fighter and Capcom's various fighters (Capcom vs SNK, Marvel vs Capcom, Street Fighter Alpha, etc.). Of course, when games are popular in the arcade environment, you can almost guarentee that they will see a home release. Tekken, Tekken 2, and Tekken 3 all saw release on the Sony Playstation. Now, the latest game in the series, Tekken Tag Tournament, makes its way home, this time for the Sony Playstation 2.

When the Playstation 2 launched in Australia on November 30, 2000, Tekken Tag Tournament was amongst the 15 or so games which premiered with the machine, and it was arguably the best of the bunch, quickly rising to the top of the gaming charts. Essentially Tekken Tag Tournament is the arcade game, with improved graphics, more characters and extra game modes. Does it really warrant a purchase? Or is it just a sugar coated Tekken 3?

My first experience with the Tekken series came with the original game in the arcades in 1995. While the Virtua Fighter and Capcom fighting games were the best at the time, Tekken managed to show that 3D Fighting games were the way of the future. Not as delicate as Virtua Fighter, and involving more button bashing than Capcom's fighters, Tekken quickly became the most popular game in the arcade because it was so easy to pick up, yet so hard to master. I loved the game. Tekken 2 appeared in 1996. It retained the same gameplay as Tekken, but introduced better graphics, and a whole slew of new characters. Tekken 3 would arrive in the arcades in 1998, and blow everything away, even the much superior looking Virtua Fighter 3 (running on Naomi hardware too). Tekken 3 would finally arrive home in 1999, completely maxing out the Playstation's abilities, and introducing one of the most feature-stuffed games ever. Tekken 3 was by far my favourite fighting game on the Playstation. You can imagine how excited I was to hear that Tekken Tag Tournament was coming to the Playstation 2. It was the first game I picked up, and I can gladly say that it is the best incarnation of Tekken so far.

Tekken Tag Tournament features amazing visuals, which make the arcade version flounder in comparison. The Western release of Tekken Tag features an important graphical element which was left out of the Japanese game - Anti Aliasing. Anti aliasing is a graphical technique used by developers to eliminate jaggies - jagged edges which appear along the outline of polygon models. Despite the fact the Japanese game ran rings around the arcade version, the more updated version of Tekken Tag blows it out of the water. The game now looks far smoother, and much more polished. This is not without a hit to the framerate though. While the US version, which is fully anti aliased, runs at a blistering pace of 60 frames per second, the PAL gamers have once again been cheated with a lousy conversion. The PAL game looks the same, but runs at only 50 frames per second.

The 3D backgrounds are some of the best that can be seen in video games. The detail is astounding. In the fields, you can see the individual strands of grass moving, to the snowflakes falling in the snow. Some backgrounds feature some fantastic lighting effects too. All these effects give character to the environment, and generally create a great atmosphere. The only problem is that there is a separation between the foreground and the background in the general fighting arena, which produces a horribly ugly seam, which can be easily seen, and detracts quite a bit from the general atmosphere.

The Tekken games have always had good music, and Tag Tournament is no exception. The soundtrack is consisted of mainly techno and rock tracks. While cheesey on their on, they seem to add a lot to the game as a whole, and can really get the blood pumping. The sound effects are great. When you walk around, or get slammed into the ground, there will be a different sound for each type of environment you are on. The audio is quite a lot better than that of the average fighting game.

To be honest, if you've played one Tekken game, you've pretty much played them all. Although there is always more new moves and modes than you can shake a stick at, the way the game plays has never really changed. Tekken Tag is essentially an upgrade to Tekken three, but includes a cast of characters from previous games, which boosts the character count to over 33. The new tag feature is by far the biggest change to Tekken. Instead of picking the one character, you now pick two, and go into a tag team battle. Tag mode makes fights last longer, and introduces a little more strategy into a basic fight. The game features all the usual fighting game modes - Arcade, Versus, Survival, Tournament...Tekken Tag includes a normal single player (just the old 1 vs 1, no tag match) and a unique little minigame, Tekken Bowl Tournament. Of course, it takes a fair bit of romping through the single player modes to get the bowling game, but when you do, it's quite a bit of fun. Tekken Tag is essentially a 2 player game though, as it can be more thoroughly enjoyed when you are not alone, especially when it comes to the bowling game. Tekken may be a button basher at heart, but when two experienced players come together, it's like poetry in motion.

In the long term, Tekken Tag Tournament should last you some time. There are a ton of characters and new features to unlock, and then there is the various two player modes. It may become stale eventually, but you must remember there is always another Tekken on the way. The single player, once you have got all the secrets, is more of a training mode for your multiplayer battles, which, like in any fighter, are going to make up a large part of your playing time (if you have friends).

Onto the breakdown...

Graphics: 9.0

Near perfect. Flickerless anti aliasing, amazing graphical effects, and really high detailed backgrounds. The seam in between the foreground and the background is quite annoying.

Sound: 8.3

The music is essentially the same sort of thing you've heard throughout the previous 3 games. The sound effects, whilst better than any other fighting game, are still quite limited.

Story: 6.6

Tekken Tag doesn't have a story as such, and is more of a side game to Tekken 3. It does have endings for each character though. Many of the fans of the series call it 'Tekken 3.5'.

Gameplay: 9.2

Plenty of modes and characters to go around. Single player can be a bit of a bore once you've finished it with all the characters, but multiplayer is where all the fun is. Average players might find that it is a little bit of a button masher, but if you take the time, you can become a master.

Lastability: 7.9

There is a ton of stuff to unlock, but once you are done with that, it's essentially going to be multiplayer from there on in. Plenty of game modes, most you will never play, however.

Pro's

- Excellent graphics
- Good soundtrack
- The gameplay sticks to the foundations of the series
- Plenty of game modes
- Great multiplayer game

Con's

- Single player becomes tedious fairly quickly
- Some sound effects are a little limited
- Fans of Tekken 3 might not see it necessary to update
- Bad PAL conversion
- 260 is too hard to get in Tekken Bowl

Buy or Rent? Buy

Definitely one to buy. It was the best of the launch titles, and now, it's still one of the top 10 PS2 games. Plenty here to keep you playing it for a while.

Overall: 8.4 (scaled back to 8 for the GameFAQs review system)

The best title to launch with the PS2. Great graphics, nice sound, excellent gameplay...what more could you want? Buy it now, especially since its been reduced to $59.95. Of course, the overall rating is dragged down by another really piss poor PAL conversion. Sony needs to remember that the European market makes up a larger proportion of the total market than the US market. Until there is a reliable method of playing import originals (get your pirate copies away from me), I am really gonna mark Sony hard on it's PAL conversions.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/02/01, Updated 09/02/01


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