Review by roadkill

"A new Tekken with a new attitude"

As a long time Tekken fan, I was bound and determined to get Tekken 4 and nobody could convince not to. No matter how many negative reviews I’ve read, no matter how many importers I’ve talked to gave it negative feedback, I just took all their advice with a grain of salt. I thought, “Those people probably don’t even appreciate the awesome fighting style that is Tekken.”

Finally, the day arrived; Tekken 4 was released in the US. I had to get it, I had to experience it for myself. When I popped it into my PS2, I was shocked to find out, this isn’t the Tekken I’ve grown to love. This is a new Tekken with a new look and feel. And I’m not sure I like the direction their taking it in.

Gameplay
It’s definitely not Tekken as usual. Sure, the controls are the same, but in fights, one thing you’ll realize real fast is that Tekken 4 controls a little looser. For example, you may find yourself trying to do one move and your character does another. Such is the case with your basic punch. If the opponent is too close, your character will simply does a grapple move instead. One thing I do like however is the reversal moves. Suppose that your opponent has you against the wall. Well, a simple reversal move and suddenly you have the upper hand. Your character grabs the opponent and switches places with him.

Tekken 4 takes place 20 years after Tekken 3 which means that this Tekken is totally redone virtually from the ground up. You’ll soon realize that some of you’re favorites are no longer here. Like Forrest Law (Tekken 3, Tekken Tag) is no longer here, instead, he’s been replaced by his father, Marshal Law (Tekken 1, Tekken 2). Pretty much everyone that you know and love is either gone or you have to unlock them.

As we all know, Tekken has always been known for its side games from Galaga (Tekken 1) to bowling (Tekken 3). Well, Tekken 4 offers a revamped form of Tekken Force (which was originally shown in Tekken 3). Tekken Force can be compared with Fighting Force or The Bouncer for the PS2. Simply enter Tekken Force, grab your favorite fighter, and take on the Tekken Force. In Tekken Force, your goal is to defeat as many opponents as you can in a given amount of time. The amount of time you have will increase as you defeat more opponents. These opponents far too often like to gang up of you or sneak behind your back. They’re not too hard (given they’re low health), but very annoying at some points. At the end of each level is a boss (another Tekken character) to defeat. There are four Tekken force levels in all, beat them all and you’ll unlock the Dojo stage. One nice thing about the updated Tekken Force is that you can change targets. So if you find that you are still stick on one target that you just got done beating up (which happens far too often) and can just press the L1 or R1 buttons to move onto a different target. However, one thing they didn’t change is the rest of the controls. Tekken Force uses the same control style as the rest of Tekken. Just remember the up makes you jump, not move your character up a hallway. Right is to advance and left is to go back.

And, as with every Tekken, there are things to unlock such as new players, new stages and new modes. In Tekken 4, there are a wealth of new fighters, at least one new stage (the dojo) and at least one new mode (theater mode).

There are ten modes by default and at least 1 to unlock. Here is a rundown of them all:

* Story Battle: this is the main mode. You choose a character, after a brief introduction as to why they are entering the King of Iron Fists tournament, you fight. After the fighting, you are rewarded with an FMV the pretty much sums up the rest of that characters story.
* Arcade: like Story Battle, except without all the intro and FMV. Just pure fighting.
* Time Attack: see who can get the best time. There are eight opponents in all.
* VS Battle: just how it sounds. Grab a friend, beat the snot out of him/her.
* Team Battle: like VS Battle, except instead of one character, you can choose up to eight. Once one character is defeated, whosever next in line will replace the defeated teammate.
* Survival: see how many people you can defeat without being defeated yourself
* Practice: practice each character combos.
* Training: practice each characters different moves against a practice dummy (another character). You can specify how the opponent acts or responds to a physical assault.
* Options: set the various different game options.
* Tekken Force: progress through a brawling game and unlock the dojo stage.
* Theater: watch a characters intro and exit FMV. Also listen to music and view the game demos. Unlock this mode by beating Story Battle or Arcade once.

Graphics
Well, no denying, Tekken 4 has some great graphics even compared to Tekken Tag Tournament (and that’s saying a lot). The stages are beautifully designed and are in full 3D. You may remember that in Tekken 3 and Tag, the stages for the most part were in 3D arenas but had a 2D background. As you are fighting, the camera is no longer just stuck in one position but it freely moves estimating the best angle for you. Another thing I appreciate is the environment. This time, you fight in actual settings rather then closed off arenas kind of like in Dead or Alive 2 or 3.

But my major gripe is with the character designs. Tekken 4 is taking place 20 years after Tekken 3 (the game in which Tekken Tag is a mod of). So, you would think that some of the characters would look stronger and more buffed then ever right? Ya, that’s what I thought too, and I was dead wrong. It seems that over the past 20 years, some of the characters really let themselves slip. It seems that the main theme is that after loosing in the King of Iron Fists Tournament 3 (Tekken 3) some fell into a drunken stupor. And, as a result, most of the characters we know and love have become hippies. For example, Paul, always know for looking butch with that free standing, cylinder looking hairdo is now just looks like some plain clothed bum off the street with shoulder length hair. And in the case of Yoshmitsu, he sports a completely new design with wings like a grasshopper and the head of a skeleton and looks even more deadly then ever.

Sound
Tekken 4 has some great sounds and background music. If you’ve played previous Tekken installments, you pretty much know what to expect here. It also has a jukebox so you can listen to all your favorite Tekken 4 tunes.

Replay Value
Passed unlocking all characters and beating Tekken Force (if one was compelled to do so); there’s really not a whole lot to do. Other then venting off some steam from a bad day at work, you might just play this game hardcore for about a week then leave it to collect dust in your collection.

I really think that if Namco were to have put the tag feature into Tekken 4, the replay value would increase. But since they didn’t, its just your run-of-the-mill, average fighting game. In fact, Tekken fans might find themselves going back to Tekken Tag Tournament after completing this one.

Closing Comments
Tekken 4 is a good fighting game but as I said, Tekken fans might find themselves going back to Tekken Tag after this one. But, Tekken fans can also find comfort in the fact the Heihachi poses a challenge this time around. Although, it might not be that he’s better, it could just be the sumo wrestler getup he’s sporting.

Gameplay – 8
I find that the some moves are needlessly complicated to pull off, such as in my example. I also feel that the Tekken Force, while being far evolved from it’s roots in Tekken 3, still has a little bit of tweaking need when it comes to the control. I’d like to be able to press up if I want to move up not jump.

Graphics – 9
I don’t like having such a drastic leap in character designs. I’m sure Tekken fans everywhere would agree with me one this point.

Sound – 9
The only thing wrong here is that the music doesn’t stick with you like previous versions. I like being able to remember all this great music even a few hours after I finish playing.

Replay value – 7
Not much left after you beat Story Mode and Tekken Force. Getting rid of the tag feature that we all came to love in Tekken Tag as well as other fighters really hit this score. Also, I feel that if they would have added another side game such as bowling that would also really increase this score. I mean, this is a fighting game, not everyone wants to fight in a mini game as well.

Overall – 8


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/27/02, Updated 09/27/02


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