Review by horror_spooky

"This is the only game I'm aware of that lets you suplex bears AND robots"

There are a lot of fighting games out there. With the explosive popularity of games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter in the somewhat early years of video games, pretty much every developer out there started dishing out their own fighting games. Most of these fighting games wound up being painfully generic and did little to nothing at all to move the genre forward. However, there were a couple of gems that stood out, and one of those gems born in the aftermath of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat was Tekken, a game that started out like most fighting games: in an arcade cabinet. Tekken's popularity warranted its move to consoles, but it has never strayed from Sony's PlayStation brand. That is until the latest installment, Tekken 6, which has made its way onto the Xbox 360. Can a fighting game series still be fresh when it's on its sixth game?

To start, the developers at Namco Bandai have added a “Scenario Mode” which I think is an attempt to bring in gamers who usually don't play fighting games. In Scenario Mode you start out playing as Lars but as you complete levels and unlock other fighters, you can choose to play as them instead. That's all fine and dandy except the Scenario Mode is quite easily the weakest part of the game and it hurts the overall product as a result.

The actual gameplay in this mode is really what makes it so aggravating. The concept of taking the Tekken characters and their fighting styles and letting them beat up people Streets of Rage-style sounds great on paper, but the execution by Namco Bandai is laughable at best. The controls are wonky and it's hard to simply focus on one enemy at a time. If you are in a fight with a large group of enemies, your best bet is to simply run away and let your partner deal with them because your focus will shuffle through the enemies like crazy, meaning that trying to hit any combos on the guys is damn near impossible.

Yeah, you get a partner, and here's where Namco Bandai screwed up yet again. There is a partner named Alisa (who can detach her head and has chainsaws in her arms) who flies around and can generally kick serious ass. She's with you through every single mission, and she really knows how to play; Alisa can often take on bosses to the point that they only have about a quarter of their health remaining. Sure she tends to hog health occasionally when she doesn't even need healed, but her AI is pretty well done and she never becomes a hassle.

So, what's my problem with Alisa then? Well, you know, since she follows you around the entire game and has her own health bar and since Scenario Mode is modeled after games like Streets of Rage, you'd think there'd be co-op. Nope, Namco Bandai failed to add a co-op function either online or offline and this is a serious hard kick in the crotch for Scenario Mode. Apparently there is going to be a patch released to add online co-op, but when a game omits one of the most basic gameplay features of a game of its inexcusable.

You will have a little bit of fun with Scenario Mode though, don't get me wrong. Beating up enemies, once you develop a series of attacks that will work best, can be fun sometimes. You can pick up weapons that you can find in boxes that include flamethrowers, machineguns, and of course, large steel poles. These mix the gameplay up a little bit and make some of the harder sections not as much of a headache.

To sum it up, Scenario Mode is a rollercoaster of quality. There are some fun things here and there, but there are also glaring flaws that hold it back. The lack of co-op and the fact that the gameplay could easily be replicated by a Sega Genesis are just a couple of those flaws. However, most Tekken fans won't be picking the game up for the tacked on storyline; oh no, they will be getting the game for the hardcore fighting action that made the series popular in the first place.

Tekken 6's battle system is really, really awesome. It retains most of the features found in the previous games of the series, but there's a lot more fluidity to it all. There can be chains of counters and grapples (with most grapples being modeled after professional wrestling maneuvers like DDTs and headscissors) that make the battles seem like they were choreographed for an action movie. There are a couple of minor changes done to the battle system, including a new system that makes you very powerful when your health is low. This makes the battles even more intense and exciting. You'll find yourself addicted to the game in no time and you'll strive to master its modes.

Arcade Mode is probably three hundred times more entertaining than the terrible Scenario Mode. In Arcade Mode, you battle a series of opponents with a final boss at the end. This is the “King of the Iron Fist” tournament that is present in all the games. This is probably the game's strongest single-player mode, and it's also one of the most challenging. Even on easy the fighters you face will present a significant challenge, but it's good that you can change the difficulty at any time, even in the middle of a fight just to cater to your specific skills as a Tekken player.

Arcade Mode is only the tip of the iceberg however. Survival Mode is a mode similar to Arcade Mode except you keep battling fighter after fighter, regaining only a little bit of health after each fight. This mode is very challenging and also a lot of fun. It just gives you more reason to delve into how deep Tekken's gameplay truly is.

There a few other modes like ghost battle where you fight ghost data endlessly. Practice mode lets you try out your skills and learn some new combos. There's a team battle mode where you can play either with yourself against a computer in a team of two to eight or against another human. And that brings me to another huge reason when Tekken 6 is still worth your time despite the crappy Scenario Mode: the versus mode.

Every good fighting game has this. You and a friend just beat the living crap out of each other, and that's one of the beautiful things about video games, really. Just beating the crap out of each other. Tekken 6 makes this so addicting with its really strong core gameplay that you'll never want to put the controller down. You'll play for fifty rounds straight and not think twice about it. It never gets boring, and you can even take the game online if you have no friends if you so wish.

The aforementioned features make Tekken 6 worth at least a rental for the hardcore fighting game fan and even the casual gamer. However, there are still some issues with the game that the Scenario Mode presents that I must touch on. You'd think that sense the developers spent basically no time on the gameplay of Scenario Mode, they'd be fine-tuning the storyline to perfection. That assumption would be very, very wrong. The plot is a muddled mess that feels like a bad fan fiction. The cut-scenes are way too long, like Metal Gear Solid long, and you'll be hard pressed to have the dexterity to sit through all of the lame cut-scenes. I have full confidence in my belief that I know eight year olds who could've penned a better story than what the developers have in their tacked on Scenario Mode.

Scenario Mode also gives the graphics a bad name. Sure, some of the cut-scenes are gorgeous, but the in-game graphics of Scenario Mode are just bad. The environments are bland, boring, and they seem to be plucked out of every other game of its kind. The animation is poor and repetitive, and on top of all that, the text is painfully small. It's hard to read pretty much everything that is going on, which makes the Japanese-speaking characters nearly impossible to understand; unless of course, you know Japanese. The graphics in the fighting sections are much better looking, with the character models very nice and the environments, while nothing special, are a step above the rest. The fluidity of the fighting is especially impressive, and it just amazes me how the developers can do so well in the graphics department in one mode but then totally abandon the thought of even trying to make the game look pretty in one of its most advertised modes.

The basic sound effects and the announcer is nice and all, but most of the audio is just plain bad. The voice acting is terrible and since the plot is so mind-numbingly stupid the dialogue is made that much worse. You'll probably be skipping the cut-scenes now not only because of the pointless and diluted plot but also because of the shoddy voice acting that will make you want to cover your ears and leave the room.

Like I've said, Tekken 6 is deep. Even though the Scenario Mode is bad, it's still something to do, and there are a lot of other aspects of the game to master. You earn money throughout the game that you can use to customize the fighters and you can will be hopelessly addicted to the versus mode. You'll easily squeeze at least ten hours out of the game without batting an eye. The achievements are pretty easy to get generally, but some of them are challenging and will have you playing even after you've mastered the game.

With a deeply addicting fighting system, a multitude of modes and a lot of fun to be had, Tekken 6 is a no brainer for gamers. The Scenario Mode is disappointingly bad and the text is shamefully small and unreadable, but the rest of the package is very nicely done. I would still wait for a bit of a price drop or just rent the game though since there is way more games more deserving of your dollars, but Tekken 6 is still not one to miss. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention something…you can freaking suplex BEARS!


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/16/09

Game Release: Tekken 6 (US, 10/27/09)


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