Review by ORCA782
"A Thinking Man's Game"
I think before I start I should mention that the first Tekken game I played was TTT, so all you hardcore players might not want to hear my review, as I have no experience in the first 3 games. I was never much into fighting games, they were kind of a forbidden fruit for me. I liked watching my friends play, because I knew they put so much time into it so that they could comprehend and out-think each other. Most fighting games, with a few exceptions, rely a lot on mind games. Everyone in the game is going to be basically balanced (if this is not true, it's generally a worse game for it, because everyone will pick those few best characters). So with a bunch of balanced characters, you can't outdo the other players moves, because you basically have the same setup yourself. You have to outwit them, surprise them with moves they don't think are coming. This type of gameplay is a great deal of fun, but it is quite taxing on your time, as it will take time to learn all the moves, and when to do them, and time to learn your opponent enough to trip them up. I want to start by saying that if you are a casual player, Tekken 4 will just be one of tens of possibly hundreds of fighting games you could enjoy. As a casual player who knows only a few moves, or just wants a game to button mash with his friends on a friday night, you might as well get Virtua Fighter 4, or DOA (for you younger crowds...) or even Dragonball Boudoukai. All of these games have good graphics, interesting fights, and good multiplayer aspects. What sets Tekken 4 apart mostly is the time and depth you can put into it. Tekken is probably the most widely used tournament fighter in the world. Maybe some of the Street Fighters are up there, but Tekken would have to be the highest as 3d games go. This is because you can play for years and still not be the best person around. This is why Tekken is a thinking game, it's more of a mind game then it is just a video game.
Now on to the material prospects of the game.
As games go right now, Tekkn 4 has top of the line graphics, and few games come near it. I don't think any outdo it. FFX is up there with it, and Maybe Resident Evil. But the level of detail in character design (moving hair, facial expressions, russling clothing) is intense. The level design is also among the best, with water effects that are among the best today, comparable to Mario Sunshine. People will be cheering in some backgrounds, and will move when you come near. Pillars and statues will break if you slam into them enough times. All in all, the graphics department hit this one up quite well.
The music ranges from hard rock to nice techno, and a lot in between. The main problem is that most rock fans aren't techno fans, so you will not like all the music, but you will probably like some of it. I personally like the airport and the mall music. Though music is never a big aspect of fighting games, this music suits the game fine.
Though some sounds will get annoying (Heihachi groaning as if constipated as you finish him off, or Law yelling like a monkey every time he does a move) they are quite well done. The sounds of punches hitting are usually the old school kung fu style (snik, snak, whoosh!), but are mixed in with sound of small explosions when moves hit, and dull thuds as you slam into a wall. Each character has a unique set of groans and battle cries as you get hit and do moves. Very nice. I especially like when Jin pulls off the Electric Wind God Fist (DA!). Voice acting, though there isn't much of it in prolonged periods, is good. Japanese is intertwined with English in a good sort of way.
Gameplay is great. As I said before, there is a lot of depth in the gameplay. Among the simpler things you eventually have got to learn as an advanced player are how to block appropriately, as there is a good mixup of possible hits (low must be blocked low, high can be ducked or blocked high, and mid must be blocked high or will hit a crouching person). Throws have several different breaks, which is somewhat unique. Most games just have a throw repelled by inputting a throw of your own, or a simple throw break button. Not in this case. A lot of characters have a parry, and there is a universal low parry to make an opponent whiff, so you can get back at them. There are countless things to master. I know a lot of people who haven't played the game for long enough will complain that this game is a 'Button Masher,' or that 'the walls ruin the game'. This is simply not true. Yes, a bunch of people who only know how to button mash will beat each other randomly because button mashing requires no thinking. If you know the game, you will only get beaten by the luckiest of button pressers, and then very rarely. The walls do add a new aspect to the game, and I know that a lot of people who are used to infinite area arenas don't particularly like them at first. You can either adjust, or go on hating the game, it's your choice. There are ways to get out of being stuck against a wall, and there are ways to use the wall to your advantage. The movement is still very free, you can do most anything. The fighting is pretty realistic besides the flashes of light and occasional lightning that comes out of peoples hands while they fight. No fireballs or super jumps as there are in other games. Yes, the tag feature is gone, and a lot of people mourn the loss. I think Namco may have done this just so they can make another game 'Tekken Tag Tournament 2', along with a Tekken 5, so they get more money, but I can't be sure of their motives. Tag was fun, but I don't mind losing it too much. This is the only reason the game didn't get a 10. I like one on one fighting better anyway. I'm sure that with the amount of complaining going on, Namco will release more Tekken tag games, whether they have their own title or not. The minigames are apparently another big deal to people, and though I didn't like bowling one bit in Tekken Tag, this games' Tekken Force mode is fun for awhile. It's your own little version of Streets of Rage. Anyway, the minigames don't make the game, so don't worry about that.
The controls are the same as the last few games. If you haven't played the last few games, then the controls are pretty easy to pick up in general, so don't sweat it. The only changes are that up and down now will not crouch or jump, they will sidestep. If you continue holding them, you will side walk (strafe). To crouch or jump you must hit down back or down forward to crouch, and the same respectively for jumping (with up). I play on pad (Playstation 2 analog controller) but many people will play with a stick (joystick) so they can also play at arcades, and some people think it's easier. I don't know stick, but pad is easy besides a few double input buttons, where you have to hit square and circle in unison. This however can be overcome by setting square and circle to one shoulder button. Then all that's left is the annoying superfast combos (a-la Steve) so that you must really have some fast thumbs to do them. These are easier to do on a stick because you have access to all the buttons with all of your fingers.
What is a fighter without replay value? I don't mean the story mode when I say replay, nor the Tekken Force mode. These will take you all of one night to beat. What I mean is that if you get some friends who are as into the game as you over, you can play this game forever. You can save replays and watch yourselves fight, and you can practice alone in order to get better for the next match with friends. Most of this games replay value comes from two player, so if you want a solitary game, the replay falls to about a 2.
Let me first put this in perspective and say that any other fighting game on the market now couldn't score higher than a 3 by my standards. This game has an intricate plot for this genre of games, though in the gaming world overall it is somewhat pitiful. You have a family in turmoil and the world is in danger of an imperialistic regime, or even plain out annihilation depending upon the outcome of this tournament. Those are the cool stories. The bad ones are teh ones that end up with your character in charge of an amusement park, or something equally frilly and pointless. Besides the main characters, the Mishimas and Kazamas, (Heihachi, Jin, and Kazuya) this game has very little plot. Most character reasons for being in the tournaments have been static ever since about Tekken 2. Nina is still an assassin on pointless missions. Lei is still a cop trying to stop some half-hearted attempt at a crime. Bryan is still a robot trying to gain back his life. So yes, the story is good as fighting games go, but don't expect to be blown away by plot twists and intricate inner meanings.
Great game, and if you want a very in depth fighting game. If you want a fun romp with some friends, this is a good choice, but others may be better, depending upon your preferences.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/04/03, Updated 02/04/03
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