Review by beat_rushR
"Greasy Faces and Easy Unlockables"
This was it. Tekken Tag Tournament had just emerged as the first Tekken in the series to be applied to the numerous titles serving under the Playsation 2's belt, and there was mention of a story-canon Tekken 4 coming out soon after. Fans of the Tekken series remember the days when the storyline was fairly simple; several people had entered a major Japanese tournament to extract money, take revenge, display their abilities, etc. and among these people, there was a man named Kazuya Mishima, who had been thrown over a cliff by the man sponsoring this tournament (his father) and wished to return the favor.
Alright. Stop, and take that in.
As you undoubtedly realized, yes, Kazuya had been the main character of the original game and yes, his back story had been fairly believable. The creators of Tekken have gone a little wild since the days of their franchise's debut and have emerged with quite a few insane ideas that branched from this original idea of Kazuya being tossed off a cliff. Among these being that Kazuya sold his soul to the Devil, received a Devil Gene, had a son with the supposed protagonist of Tekken 2, later tried to kill said son, and ultimately emerged as more insanely evil than his own father, Heihachi Mishima.
Tekken 4's storyline contributes to these odd factors with the subtraction of several others that could have made the general game more interesting (aside from it's awkward storylines). Because, yes, the series is known for more than just Kazuya Mishima and the rest of his bloodline. It is also known for its easy-to-understand combat system, it's mid-level graphics, and its ever-growing options as the series progresses. Tekken 4 carries with it these highlights, but also takes a backseat to several others that should be addressed here today.
The characters and their environments don't look too much better than they did in Tekken Tag Tournament (which was quite a disappointment on my part). Some clothes have a tendency to stick to their character's body and not flow' with their actions in the way that they should (Hwoarang is most infamous for this in his white uniform; the jacket and loose pant legs should move much more than they do). The intro FMV is plenty beautiful in itself with some of the best CGI effects the PS2 had to offer in its earlier years. However, most, if not all, character endings are disappointing; wherein the graphics should be increased for viewing pleasure, we're left by some hokey editing to just making them look a little bit better than their in-game appearances. However, this is not the worst part of it.
Remember the interesting, realistic-looking icons Tekken used to display for its characters? Ling Xiaoyu with her adorable little Chinese face, Nina with her off-handed cold stares, Paul Phoenix with his firey and aggressive expressions? Well, say goodbye to all that, and welcome in greasy, fat-looking faces into the display icons for Tekken 4. Yes, I said greasy and fat. Every single character looks as if they have not bathed in months. Their hair is wet-looking, dirty, and their faces seem oily. Namco even took sweet little Xiaoyu's face and made her one of the ugliest Tekken icons I've ever seen. She doesn't look a single thing like her character both during the in-game experience and the FMV's. Her face is round and chubby, her hair is stringy and of course dirty, and they made her smile look strained on her oily face. You almost become anxious with your match with her, because there's always that little frightened thought, Am I really gonna fight someone THIS ugly!?' Luckily, Xiaoyu comes out looking the same way you remember her. Cute. Not painstakingly disgusting like hers, along with everyone else's', icons display.
As said before, Tekken has had an odd amount branches added on to its original idea of a man wanting revenge on his father. We are now drawing in to a time where Kazuya is back and ready to retrieve the Mishima Zaibatsu from Heihachi and the remnants of his Devil Gene from his son Jin, which he lost after being thrown into a volcano at the end of the second tournament. The story in Tekken 4 was what contributed to a lot of hype that had begun pending its release. Jin, Kazuya and Heihachi would all finally get the chance to clash after all the betrayals and cliff-throwing (inside joke). How would Kazuya actually react to meeting his son for the first time? Would Jin's bitterness change their interaction in anyway? Where would Heihachi come in?
Theirs along with many others built up an okay' story that set a bridge for Tekken 5. Not bad, not great, but just good enough to get those already interested in the series before the fourth installment to pick up their controllers.
The music in Tekken 4 could easily be considered a little bland'. Most of the music sounds almost like recycled, stripped versions of previous tracks on previous games. The only remotely interesting track centered around the Hon Maru stage, with a shadowy, mystical song that quietly played in the background. Perfect for the temple-like area. Several characters themselves have adapted to new voices complete with more realistic-sounding grunts and cries as they're bashed and trashed through stages (Paul Phoenix the most notable). New characters that have been introduced such as Marduk and Steve Fox have voice-overs that suite them to the bone; Marduk's loud and aggressive while Steve's confident and low, complete with an actual accent.
Controls are similar to its predecessors. Triangle and square are punch buttons, circle and ex are kick buttons, and if you press enough at the right time, you get a hefty combination. Tekken 4 however took outs it square + ex grapple so now you're left with trying to grab hold of your opponent with only a single, simple hold while trying to press different directional buttons to see if you can't come up with something new. In its place is now a move where you grab hold of your opponent just along enough to shift them back a bit. Not only is this move unnecessary, it's downright annoying when you're used to previous controls.
However, the addition of using your environment to harm your enemy was refreshing. You'll enjoy launching your opponents through phone booths and statues as they try to catch their bearings, and laugh when you knock them into rounds of people watching your fight with their fists raised. It's just as hilarious when you miss your opponent and accidentally deck one of said people in the face. It's almost more satisfying than your actual fight at hand, and you may find yourself looking for reasons to head back to that same guy you slugged and give him another punch in the kisser.
Tekken games are generally fun to play over and over as you try to unlock characters and new modes to engage in. However, Tekken 4 just doesn't have enough of this to keep you interested for long. There are few characters (21 in total, compared to its non-canon predecessor, which had 39). The characters you do start out with are generally dull, for all the good characters you would want to play with are unlockables. The only mode you get for beating the game is Theatre Mode, and that's after only one play through of Story Mode.
Only two stages, nine characters, and one mode can be unlocked. Needless to say, you'll be through with the game fast enough (one sitting on an easy setting and one match should get you everything the game has to offer, which is sad). However, it's not all bad. If you have reason at all its to replay as your favorite characters and master their multiple techniques for more challenging modes such as Tekken Force and Survival (Tekken Force in itself has become more of a 3-D environment with rich additions). In any case, when it comes to unlockables, you don't have much to work for. But when it comes to the updated modes and character strategy, Tekken 4 becomes enjoyable, almost even fun.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 06/30/06
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