Review by CHamlin86
"The next smash hit for fans of the series, but a fantastic fighting game on its own."
Namco's mega-popular fighting franchise returns to the PS3 and X360 after a long wait (and wondering why the arcade release was so skimpy in the US). Tekken 6 takes everything to a whole new level with brand new game mechanics, 6 new characters, and a plethora of extra goodies for fans and newcomers alike. Tekken 6 was first released in arcades, followed by Bloodline Rebellion, the re-release including 2 new characters. The console release is the Bloodline Rebellion version with all the new characters and some features. The new stuff is more like a silver lining; Tekken is a fighting game and should be treated as such. That said, let's look at what's new.
First of all, there are 6 brand new characters. All 6 of them have their unique style and moves, which is definitely a plus and adds to the diversity of an already swelling roster (Tekken 6 features 40 different characters). The newcomers include Zafina, Miguel, Leo, and Bob as well as the Bloodline Rebellion characters Lars and Alisa. What's truly impressive is how balanced the game is. It shows that Namco really went to great lengths to make sure the characters were balanced. New moves have been added for existing characters and some moves which were redundant or useless were removed or changed. This sort of painstaking attention to detail means that no matter which character you choose, you stand a fighting chance as long as you have the skill and patience.
Some of the new gameplay mechanics include the new bounce (or bounds) system. All characters have a few a moves which "bounce" your opponent. Lifting your enemy in the air and juggling them has always been a key element in Tekken and many matches could be determined by who was juggling the most. When you use a bound move while your opponent is in the air, it slams them on the ground and causes them to bounce slightly; this enables you to follow up and continue your combo. This system gives you even more possibilities with your juggles, especially when playing on a stage with walls; it's possible to dish out some very powerful combos. To compensate for this, the health bars have been extended. Also check out the practice mode; all of the characters have some sample combos which demonstrate some clever uses of the bounce system.
Tekken 6 also features the return of destructable environments, an idea first introduced in Tekken 4. In some stages, you can actually break through the floor. Using a bounce move on an airborne opponent on certain parts of the floor cause it to break and you and your opponent will fall to another area below. The fall causes another bounce, so this adds a new level of depth to your strategy; players can identify the areas where the floor can break, and then try to move to them in an attempt to break through. And of course, the game features some stages with no walls or floors for that classic Tekken feel.
Another new mechanic is the rage system. When your health gets low, your healthbar will flash red and your character's limbs will glow. This indicates that you are enraged and all of your attacks do extra damage. The system is meant to allow players a last chance to come back and win. Indeed, this concept shows; a solid juggle with the new bounce mechanic while enraged and can even the odds very quickly. The system is not without it's flaws however. Losing a match just because your opponent was raged and his attacks do more damage will sometimes happen. It's supposed to add an element of desperation and can make for some intense matches, but there is the occasional "you won just because you were raged" rounds. However, the rage system only kicks in when your health is VERY low; often times your juggle, throw, or other hard-hitting attack will completely finish off your opponent without even giving them the chance to use the extra damage from rage.
The controls are great. Everything responds smoothly from moving to attacking. The controls scheme itself is intuitive and easy to get used to; there's a button for each of your character's limbs: left punch, right punch, left kick, and right kick. The scheme has remained unchanged since the first installment and works wonderfully.
Another big feature of the game is the new Scenario Campaign mode. This is very similar to the Tekken Force modes of previous installments but with a few twists. First of all, it's like a beat 'em up game. You start out with one character and can unlock more as you progress through the stages. All of your characters moves are available so you can use your favorite combos and moves in Scenario Campaign as well. The control scheme for this mode is a little different. Basically if you are close enough to an enemy, you will lock on to them and the controls are exactly the same as a fighting match. If there are no enemies around of if you use the analog stick, you free move in any direction. This is a little awkward and makes the use of the camera tricky and is one of two things that hurts campaign mode. Another thing is that your partner is controlled by AI and is not very smart. It won't pick up healing items at all until it's health is dangerously low, so you might find it dying a lot.
Overall, though, the Scenario Campaign is well done with a few cons. On the one hand, it does allow you to acquire money and items for customizing your fighters very quickly. It's very story driven and there are plenty of cutscenes and stages to play through. Most of the customizable items also have special effects (which only work in Scenario Campaign) such as increased damage, elemental attacks, etc. However, it seems a little out of place for a fighting game, and unfortunately, most of the trophies, character endings, and other unlockables are acquired through this mode, so it seems needlessly forced on the player. However, an upcoming patch is going to inlcude online co-op, allowing another player to control your partner. All in all, though, it's safe to say that we picked up Tekken 6 for the fighting part, not Scenario Campaign
Tekken 6 features an online mode which allows you to fight other players from around the world. It works in a similar fashion to Tekken 5:DR where you would join a room and wait your turn to the face the champion (you can spectate on the matches when not playing). If the champion is defeated, he moves to the bottom and the winner takes his spot. There are online rankings for each of your characters which increase as you win more ranked matches. You can also play non-ranked matches for practice or for fun against other players, or you can invite your friends to play with you. The one glaring flaw with the online mode is that it does suffer from significant lag problems. Only a group of players with good connections can get nearly lagless matches; if even one player with a bad conncection joins a room, lag can get really bad in the worst cases, unplayable. There's light at the end of the tunnel, though: Namco has stated that they are overhauling the net code in the next patch in order to reduce lag.
Tekken 6 is a must-have for fans and fighting game enthusiasts alike. The game has a steep learning curve, however. Players new to the series may be surprised by the depth of the gameplay, especially when it comes to the more advanced game mechanics. It takes quite a bit of practice to truly master Tekken 6. However, there's plenty of replayability: you can always learn a new character! The new replay feature also allows you to record your off- and online matches so you can relive your greatest moments. The ghost feature also returns, allowing you to download and fight against ghosts which mimic a real player's fighting style. Team Battle, Arcade Mode, Time Attack, and Survival all return as well. All in all, Tekken 6 is a spectacular and exhilarating fighting game experience that fighting game fans at the very least, definitely won't want to miss.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/03/09
Game Release: Tekken 6 (US, 10/27/09)
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