Review by Worldmaker
"Everything you expected, and... that's pretty much it."
We'll start this review by announcing one thing: I'm a Tekken fanboy. It's not a secret, and it really doesn't affect this review much, as you'll see.
As a veteran player of the series, I've watched the various iterations of the game come and go, enjoying the changes and updates of each. Tekken 2 introduced a larger cast, Tekken 3 "pumped up the volume" with vastly expanded gameplay, and Tekken Tag seemingly reached a pinnacle in the series' gameplay. However, with the introduction of Tekken 4, the community of competitive gamers took a nosedive, with changes and innovations falling short of expectations.
Enter Tekken 5. A return to the series' feel in movement and damage to the praised Tekken 3 era and a re-introduction of much of the cast from Tekken Tag spurned a revival in previous fans of the series. The arcade version enjoyed immediate success, drawing crowds of veteran and "newbie" players alike.
Now for the million-dollar question: Is this PS2 port of the arcade game worth the time and money?
Though, admittedly, I'm not overwhelmingly concerned with exact poly counts or perfect texturing, I did find Tekken 5's graphics' engine rather impressive. A tad muted from the textures and colors of the arcade version, it still conveys the excellent character detail, meshed with lush, memorable backgrounds. Lighting isn't quite as contrasted and glaring as the arcade version either, but to many players, that's a welcome change.
Character movement is fluid, and impact seems natural. Though this isn't something new to the series, it's worth noting. Movement looks responsive and "realistic", giving you the impression of real control over your character.
Again, I don't pay outrageous amounts of attention to sound, nor have I ever purchased a gaming soundtrack. However, I was pleased with Tekken 5's tracks and sound effects.
There are a few voice-overs, however, that I could do without. Steve Fox's inexplicable likeness to the nasally drone of the Crocodile Hunter's Steve Irwin is irritating at best, outlandish at worst. Paul and Law also suffer from the same problem; put simply, the voices don't seem to match their personas, nationality, or character history. Still, forgiveable problems as the actual voiceovers are few and far between.
This might be some influenced scoring, but Tekken's control system puts the responsibility of accuracy and efficiency on the player. With some characters utilizing simple "direction and a button" strings/moves and others using more complicated "Just Frame" inputs and command strings, just about anyone can find a style they'll enjoy.
Most moves can be performed with ease, and those that require complicated or timed input can be achieved with moderate practice. All in all, the reponsive nature of the controls gives you natural and smooth control over your character.
The simplistic nature of blocking and attacking free the player up to enjoy the game, and those that wish to explore the more complicated maneuvers of parrying, crouch dashing, and assorted other "advanced techniques" can do so at their leisure.
Juggling can be simple, and the reward for learning extended (albiet harder) juggles is fantastic.
I'd reserve this category for a 10/10, but I'm aware that the learning curve of the game can be a bit much for players new to the series.
Although the controls and moves are intuitive, it takes some time to learn the rhythm and feel of the game. Stringing moves and juggles takes practice, and setups are centrifugal to multiplayer competition.
In single player, the computer AI abuses "pre-knowledge" of your offense to block lows and deter mixups that would normally work well on human opponents, and it will basically teach solo players habits that will get them rather abused in competitive play.
In short: This game is geared for human competition. The computer AI is passable for learning basic maneuvers and juggles, but an artificial ceiling of AI limitation will keep you from expanding your game. Look for competition in arcades near you, or use Tekkenzaibatu.com's Match Finder forums to locate people near you.
The series has enjoyed longevity because of its playability in tournament settings, so don't do yourself a disservice by sticking to solo play.
Extra Modes: 6/10
Here's where the game falls short.
Arcade History mode is entertaining, for a short while. A true-to-form exploration of the arcade versions of Tekken 1-3, as well as the classic Starblade, it's an interesting look at the development of each Tekken. However, in the face of Tekken 5, these pale and likely won't hold your attention long. (Also, since these are arcade ports and not console replications, the extra modes that were favored in Tekken 3, such as Tekken Ball, and playable bosses from Tekken 1 and 2 are not available, limiting the playability of these games.)
Practice Mode is the same as usual, allowing for practice of each character. Standard options for Counter Hit, Hit Analysis, and Opponent Stance are present. There's also a return of the very useful "Defensive Training". By selecting moves on your opponent's command list, you can force the computer to repeat series of moves or throws, enabling you to practice defending them. With the right applications, easily the most useful extra feature of the practice modes.
Now for the real disappointment: Devil Within. This 3-D adventure mode promises mazes, puzzles, and a horde of enemies to dispose of, all while uncovering the secrets of Jin Kazama's past. It delivers these things, in a manner of speaking, in a dry, repetitive, and boorish fashion.
The average enemy AI is uninventive, and borders on downright ignorant. Mashing attacks will clear most rooms, as the more esoteric attacks are neither more effective nor damaging.
The mazes/puzzles are simplistic and obvious in most areas, and outright frustrating in a few others. There's little median ground, and solving these won't provide a feeling of accomplishment so much as a feeling of "Finally, I can get out of this room."
Boss battles appear challenging, at first, but with the realization that each requires nothing but a transformation to the (otherwise useless) Devil Jin form, they quickly dissipate into more tedium.
The bonuses gain from finishing this (and finishing it a second time) are pretty much the only reason you'd want to bother.
Tekken has always had a unique charm, and this sequel is no different. A variety of stories and endings for the characters will keep you entertained for a short time, and the Arcade History mode provides a look into the belly of the "beast". However, some voiceovers (as mentioned previously) and some storylines will leave you baffled, or worse, annoyed with their absurd nature.
I'l summarize this simply: If you plan on purchasing this and spending time with the gameplay itself, you'll find reward. The competitive scene for Tekken is huge, and the reward of the game is the continual satisfaction you'll gain by playing and learning it with other people.
The single player aspects will wear thin after a short time, and if you have no intention of devoting some time to the more challenging aspects of gameplay, this is just a rental for you.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/28/05
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