Review by shabulia

"...how would I rate Tekken 5? In a word, Incredible!"

What game was I playing? I forgot if it was Tekken, Tekken 2, Tekken 3, or Starblade in classic arcade perfect glory. I can't believe what a classic game collection I just bought! Oh, and Tekken 5 is a nice bonus to round out this little package. All jokes aside, how would I rate Tekken 5? In a word, Incredible!

Let's just take a quick trip down memory lane (which this game makes it easy with the inclusion of the first three Tekken games). Tekken has been around for ten years. And what a ten years it has been! It is almost impossible to remember a time without Tekken. It is as synonymous with the fighting genre as is Street Fighter or Virtua Fighter. Let's face it; Tekken has always been a bit of a Virtua Fighter rip off. But where the Tekken series has separated itself is the better gameplay, better graphics, and deeper characters. When the Playstation was first released, Tekken became its flagship fighter while the Saturn had Virtua Fighter. How ironic that it is that the rivalry is still Tekken vs. Virtua Fighter even today...and on the same console, no less. Tekken prevailed then and looks to do so now. And with each sequel, it seemed to improve upon itself and its already perfect gameplay (save for Tekken 4). Tekken Tag Tournament launched with the Playstation 2 and seemed to be the pinnacle of the series. That all changed on February 24, 2005. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Tekken series we are given the best fighting game ever to grace the Playstation 2 Entertainment System. Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution threw down the proverbial gauntlet and Tekken 5 has picked it up and shown why it is the King of the Iron Fist!

Let's start at the beginning. If you don't remember, the first Tekken gave us an arcade perfect playable version of Galaga during its initial load screen. Ten years later, Tekken 5 does the same thing with a little game called Starblade (also available in Arcade History mode). It's a nice way to begin things for a tenth anniversary. Then we get the intro movies (there are two). Like previous Tekken games, this is pure eye candy. Unlike previous Tekken games, these movies here actually make sense. This one sets us up with the basic story by explaining Heihachi is dead. While his absence is a sad one, it's mostly for original story purposes as you can earn him later as the game progresses. Plus, if you miss him that much early on and don't want to beat the game over and over until you can use him, play him in the other Tekken games on the disc (more on that later). There are a bunch of characters making their return (Kazuya, Jin, Edie Gordo, Bryan Fury...) plus some new faces. I especially like the inclusion of Asuka Kazama who is the cousin to Jin Kazama. She fills the very deep void left by the absence of Jun Kazama of Tekken 2. She's not quite the same as her Aunt, but pretty close and man does she kick butt! Oh, and the end boss (for Asuka at least), Jinpachi, is the most unfair and ultra cheap boss character since M. Bison from Street Fighter II Turbo. I hate it but I love it too. All of the other characters give us a nice and well rounded cast. Each one plays differently and has tons of combos. Believe me, this is a game where it would be difficult to master everyone's moves and that means great replay value.

Speaking of replay value, this game takes a cue from Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution and Street Fighter Alpha 3 by giving us an arcade mode where your chosen character grows and earns experience points. You can also by new items and outfits with the money you win from the matches. I know it's another rip off, but Tekken 5 does it better than VF4: Evolution, so I don't care. I loved it in that game and I love it in Tekken 5.

Now let's talk about looks. First of all, these are not Playstation 2 graphics. It just isn't possible. This looks as good as Dead or Alive Ultimate on the XBox. That's saying a lot. Tekken has always been pretty, but nothing could prepare me for the visual spectacle that is Tekken 5. There are no jaggies. The characters are all crisp and animate beautifully. The facial expressions are astounding. It's getting to where these characters are starting to look tangible. And all this is being done on a console that we all thought was tapped out graphically. Lighting, particle effects, and even the ground cracking with impact looks great. I am absolutely amazed. The sound is right up there too. I have always loved the music from this series and the fifth installment is no exception. I believe it is more varied than previous games, which is a good thing. Another thing I like is each character speaks in their own native tongue. I don't know why more games aren't like this. If the character is Japanese, they speak Japanese! If they are American, they speak English. It's merely attention to detail and gives each character depth. And with Tekken 5, the depth is important. The one thing I really liked about Tekken 4 was the inclusion of story mode. I don't know about you, but I actually like to have back stories for characters in a fighting game so I will care about them more. The rivalry between Ken and Ryu, the revenge sought by Kasumi, and all the drama that has been formed by the family of Tekken characters makes for a more exciting game. For me, Tekken 5's gameplay is made deeper by the story of each character and how they relate to each other in their little universe. As a result, the end movies make sense. As I said before, this is another first for the series and is a much needed addition. Each character has, well….character. And you just gotta love these guys! (And gals)

The presentation is also astounding. The interface has improved a little, but didn't really need to as it has never been an issue with the Tekken series. It's very easy to choose between each mode and/or get right into the game. Loading time is almost non-existent. This just keeps the game flowing constantly and never lets up. Frame rate looks to be a consistent 60 fps. If it ever drops, it's something I have never noticed. If we view the package as a whole, other game companies should pay close attention to Namco. I know I have mentioned it before, but I will say it again. I am all about the old school and having Tekken, Tekken 2, and Tekken 3 included here is wonderful. Tekken and Tekken 2 are standard as we have played those before on the PS One. But the real treat here is Tekken 3 in arcade perfect form for the first time at home. If you didn't know, the PS One was actually the System 11 arcade board, which Tekken and Tekken 2 were based on. Tekken 3 was released in arcades on the new System 12 board. It was widely questioned whether or not Tekken 3 would make it to the PS One. The first two games were released as being better than arcade perfect. When Tekken 3 appeared at home, it was great. But not perfect. The backgrounds had been made to be 2D back drops like the previous two games to same memory. To compensate for this loss, we were given three bonuses for the game; Tekken Force Mode and the inclusion of two new exclusive home version characters, Dr. Boskanovich and Gon. All three new additions were forgettable at best. But Tekken 3 was still a great game on the PS One. Well, fast forward to today. We get Tekken 3 in a flawless and arcade perfect port with no Dr. B. or Gon or lame Final Fight style mode. The backgrounds are all in 3D polygons and the gameplay is absolutely perfect.

Well, I guess you don't need to ask if I liked it. Of course I did. And you will too. I don't care if you are a fighting game fan or not. This game is a must have for anyone that has a Playstation 2. It is a great value. It is a wonderful sight to behold. It will keep you playing for hours and hours. The Arcade mode will keep you engrossed even as a single player. And, most importantly, it is F-U-N fun! Stop reading and go get this game!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/14/07


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