Review by sbn4

"The King is Back!"

Tekken has been around for ten years! When it first debuted way back in 1995 on the Playstation, it set the fighting game genre ablaze with it's unprecedented gameplay. Today, the original Tekken games aren't anything to get too excited about. But back then, they were the talk of the town. However, as of lately, there seems to be lacking interest in this once dominant franchise. Many people will say that Tekken reached it's peak at Tekken 3 and perhaps even the PS2 launch title Tekken Tag. However, Tekken 4 is considered by most the down point of the series. With it's slower than usual fights, unbalanced engine, and poke-fest gameplay, many turned their cheek on Tekken. With any lack of significant changes since Tekken 3, and the lackluster showing of Tekken 4, people were beginning to fear Tekken had gone stale. If you you were one of those people, you will begin to eat you're words. Because Tekken 5 has brought back everything that you've loved about Tekken, and then some!

If you've just tuned into Tekken for the first time, you should realize that the game pretty much revolves around the Mishima family. And boy, they're about as dysfunctional as a family can get. Tekken 5 is pretty much a continuation of Tekken 4. It seems that both Kazuya and Heihachi find themselves stuck in Honmaru fighting off a battalion of Jacks. Kazuya and Heihachi make a pretty awesome team, but what happens at the end shouldn't really surprise you. A beautifully rendered CG cutscene explains a small portion of the plot. I'll leave it to you keen Tekken players to see what unfolds in the beginning sequence. Tekken really hasn't been too big on story. Heck what fighting game is?

Fans of the series should be very pleased with the character roster after Tekken 4's skimpy list. Old school favorites like Paul, Roger, Nina, King, and Yoshimitsu are still around, along with some other dearly missed characters like Wang Jinrei, Anna Williams, Baek Doo San, and Bruce Irvin. Tekken 4's Steve Fox, Christie Montiero, and Craig Marduk make another appearance alongside three brand new characters. There's Raven, a Wesley Snipes Blade look a like with a Ryu Hayabusa type demeanor. Then we have Asuka Kazama, a 17 year old school girl who follows the same fighting style as the deceased Jun Kazama. And finally we have Feng Wei, a Chinese Kenpo master. The roster is very diverse and offers 30 different characters. You won't be disappointed in this tournament's turnout.

Gameplay

Perhaps one of the most common reasons why people claim they have lost interest in Tekken is because the gameplay hasn't evolved a whole lot since Tekken 3. Unfortunately, Tekken 5 doesn't exactly change Tekken's tried and true engine much. That's the bad news. The good news is, it plays a hell of a lot better than Tekken 4 did. Namco went back to Tekken 3/Tekken Tag physics. God bless you Namco! Another disaster like Tekken 4, and this Tekken fan probably would have given up on the series. Tekken 5 is a total blast. The game is an arcade perfect port. There are a some annoying loading times, but nothing too drastic. The game plays fast and with hardly a single hiccup in the framerate. This is the fastest and most fluid playing Tekken game to date.

Tekken has always been known for it's great accessibility. A newcomer can mash buttons and have a good time (although they won't get very far), while a hardcore fighting fanatic can sit back and soak up the engine. Regardless of what category you fall into, Tekken 5 has something for everyone. The controls have always been intuitive, and nicely laid out. Each button corresponds with character right or left limbs, depending on which button you press. Inputting these buttons in certain order can allow you're character to perform different combos and moves. Using the directional pads with these attack buttons also give character different move possibilities. Other advanced moves like parries, attack reversal, and throws can be done accordingly. It takes a great deal of strategy and planning to play certain characters well.

While another Namco fighting game called Soul Calibur 2 uses a concept called 8 way run for three dimensional movement, Tekken uses a technique called side stepping. By quickly tapping up or down on the directional pad, you can have you're character step into the fore-ground or background. This movement may not be as quick as Soul Calibur 2's 8WR, but it's just as effective for evading enemy attacks, and it isn't totally abusable like it is in Soul Calibur 2. Another useful technique used quite often by Tekken players is called "juggles." This basically means getting you're opponent in the air with some sort of launching attack, and hit them as many times as possible before they hit the ground. This is a fundamental tool that you should get accustomed to. Juggles can be a flashy or as practical as you want. A good juggling game can sometimes mean the difference between winning and losing a match. Each character has several different way to perform a juggle. TekkenZaibatsu.com has a comprehensive guide, as well as videos explaining juggles.

If you were one of those people who hated walls in Tekken 4, you're going to be upset to learn that walls are still very much present this time around. Tekken 4's wall system allowed for infinites and some rather frustrating matches. It seems that wall damage has been toned down a tad since Tekken 4. On the bright side, Tekken 5 also features several open ended arenas with no boundaries. Good news for those who missed the infinite arenas from past Tekken games.

As far as game modes go, there you're typical story mode, which allows you to play through any given character and discover their motive for entering the tournament. You'll come across some in-game cutscenes along the way. After defeating Tekken 5's extremely over-powered boss Jinpachi, you'll be treated to a CG cutscene. Playing through story mode allows you to unlock hidden characters as well. Naturally, you'll also have an arcade mode, which allows you to fight different character to rank up in the Tekken world. After you've won a certain number of matches, you'll get promoted to the next rank. Vs. Battle allows you and a friend to go head to head. Survival mode has you pick one character and fight till you drop basically. You're goal is to get through as many characters as you can. Team battle allows you to pick anywhere from one to eight fighters on a team to against another team. You'll obviously have a practice mode that lets you learn character moves, as well as develop you're skills.

Namco seemed to go all out for it's tenth anniversary game. They've incorporated some great extra features. Anyways, what would Tekken be without a mini-game of some sort? The mini-game titled Devil Within, has a fairly interesting premise. You play as Jin as he battles his way through level after level of baddies, somewhat like Tekken Force. You learn about Jin's history, and how he unleashes his inner devil. Another welcome addition to the series is character customization. Namco pretty much borrowed Virtua Fighter 4's customizing options for character. Have you ever wanted to dress up you're favorite Tekken character in cool threads, or different hairstyles? Well, now you can. Playing story mode, and arcade mode gains you fight money which allows you to buy items for you're characters. You can hook you're character up with new hats, earrings, masks, items, accessories, etc. Or you can simply change the color of their clothes. Some characters have a third costume that can be bought at a rather hefty price. Customization is great, but it almost pales in comparison to the biggest extra feature in the game. In a bid to show how much Namco appreciates the fans support for so many years, they have decided to throw in the first three Tekken games in. That's right! Tekkens 1-3 are all fully playable in Tekken 5. This option is located under Arcade History. The games may have aged poorly over the years, but it's so nice that Namco went out of their way to put in the first three games for the fans.

Graphics/Sound 9/10

Tekken 5 looks amazing. It's one of the best looking console fighters available, asides from Dead or Alive of course. The backgrounds are nicely detailed. It's a nice touch that the environment cracks and crumbles after a devastating blow has been dealt into them. The characters look great, and the animations are top-notch. This game even does one better than Soul Calibur 2. Both games look amazing, but while Soul Calibur 2 had a lot of framerate issues during some intense action, Tekken 5 maintains a steady 60 FPS. Like i mentioned before, it's an arcade perfect port. You'll have to deal with a few loading times, but once again Namco outdoes themselves. In the beginning, while the game loads, you have the option to play another Namco game called Starblade. It's an extremely old school flight sim. What a perfect way to forget about loading times.

Namco continues to impress with the sound quality. It's a nice touch that each character speaks their native language. Characters like Wang speak Chinese, while characters like Jin speak Japanese. The sound effects are done well too. Each hit really sounds like it hurts, and is capable of shattering every bone in you're body. The music in Tekken has always been enjoyable. A variety of electronic beats with techno type music fits perfectly for this kind of game. The music is sort of a mixed bag this time around. I found myself really getting into some of the tunes like the Urban Jungle and the Waterfall stages. There are also a variety of other great and some not so great tunes that can be listened to in the options menu. The soundtrack is a step up from Tekken 4.

Replayability

Fighting games are usually known for being playable for quite a bit of time. Tekken 5 is no different. There are 30 different characters to figure out. Playing with a friend is always fun. Unfortunately there is no online mode available in Tekken. Despite this, Tekken 5 still has loads to offer. You can play through all 30 characters in story mode, play arcade mode to increase you're ranking, survival and team battle mode. You also have the daunting task of using each character to their best ability as well as learning them well. There are even a few special features like Devil Within, character customization, and even Aracde History. Wow, that's a lot to do. Someone should clue in Itagaki of DOA fame. Now that is an ultimate package! A tag battle option would have easily put it over the top. I guess we'll have to just wait for Tekken Tag Tournament 2, won't we?

Tekken is one of the longest running and most successful fighting franchise to date, next to Street Fighter. In it's time it's become widely popular among casual fans as well as fanatics who strive to grasp true mastery of the game. Tekken 5 takes the series back to it's root. Unfortunately the series hasn't evolved as much as some people may have wanted it to. That doesn't change the fact that this is perhaps one of the fastest, deepest, and most enjoyable fighting games on the PS2. Tekken 5 may not offer as deep or a widely technical engine like Virtua Fighter 4. However, Tekken's engine not only is user-friendly to a degree, but hardcore fans can enjoy it too, while Virtua Fighter 4 only caters to the later. If you're a long time fan of the Tekken series, and found Tekken 4 to be slightly disheartening, Tekken 5 will renew you're faith in this series. To those who've stayed away from the series for a long time, Tekken 5 is all the more reason to get back into the fight. If you are one of those people who never understood what made Tekken so special, or just never liked Tekken at all, i doubt this game will get you into the series. For people who are just looking for another fighting game to get into, Tekken 5, is the best choice. Regardless, Tekken is back and once again proves why it' considered one of the top dogs in the 3D fighting genre.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/08/05


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