Review by Wolf Feather
"A Review from Someone Who Only Casually Plays Martial Arts Games"
I first happened upon the Tekken series with Tekken 2 on the original PlayStation, and - despite my familiarity with fighting games - enjoyed it, in large part because I was able to have some measure of success with the game almost immediately. I never tried Tekken 3, but Tekken Tag Tournament was the same - with the added bonus of Tekken Bowl :-)
Tekken 4 continues this line of ease of playability, even for those like myself who are not hardcore enthusiasts of martial arts games. In fact, I specialize in racing and driving games, which require far less coordination and memorization and quick on-the-fly button combinations. Still, while Tekken 4 slightly raises the bar in terms of ease of playability, it is still possible for a newcomer to the series to have some success almost from the beginning.
To that end, Tekken 4 is VERY different from Virtua Fighter 4. Remembering watching a former girlfriend repeatedly demolish all comers with the arcade version of Virtua Fighter 2, I bought Virtua Fighter 4 on release... and was floored at just how difficult it was. Even with Pai (reportedly the easiest character to use in Virtua Fighter 4), that game is certainly NOT for us casual players of martial arts games, even though it is superior to the Tekken series in terms of graphics and fluidity of movement (and a true training mode). Tekken 4 is more like the Dead or Alive series, but with less flesh and extremely little breast-bouncing (although there is some of both in Tekken 4).
One of the fun quests of Tekken 4 is unlocking all the characters. For experts of martial arts games (and the Tekken series in general), this will certainly not require a lot of time; for us casual players, however, this is a fun process which could take up to a week. Once characters are unlocked, the next quest is defeating Story Mode with each character to unlock the ending movies, which are all definitely interesting... and some completely hilarious :-)
While Tekken 4 does not have an equivalent to Tekken Bowl (from Tekken Tag Tournament), Tekken Force is a novel addition to the series, in which the player must infiltrate a military compound using only martial arts techniques; this is certainly inspired at least in part by the opening movie for the game. The standard Arcade Mode and Time Trial Mode are included, along with a customizable Practice Mode. However, Training Mode consists of simply inputting the displayed button combinations as quickly as possible, a downfall of the game compared to the in-depth Training Mode of Virtua Fighter 4. That said, Virtua Fighter 4 would be at least worth a rental for novice players of martial arts games to gain at least the basics of playing fighting games - in much the same way as completing the License Tests in any game of the Gran Turismo series will generally help with virtually ALL games in the racing/driving genre.
Perhaps the best thing about Tekken 4 is the detail afforded to the sound engineering. The ambient sounds are all spot-on for each fighting locale, and the characters' voices even change appropriately. For example, the Mall, Laboratory, and Parking Area fighting venues all feature prominent echoes, yet the echoes are distinctly different in each venue. The sound of water in the Mall, Jungle, and Beach venues distinctly different as well, and the volume of the water sounds also fluctuates depending on where the characters are located within each locale.
Overall, Tekken 4 is definitely a good game, even for novices in the martial arts genre of gaming. For those who take their time in unlocking the various elements of the game, Tekken 4 will definitely have a lengthy replay life.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/30/02, Updated 09/30/02
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