Review by SieckJ
"This is game is great for nostalgia, not for the knowing"
I can remember being sixteen and hustling little kids for quarters in my local arcade (located within the mall of course) at Tekken 3. Ah, how they banged their wee fists on the arcade board and shouted slurred curses through their soft drinks. There were even almost a few fights due to my volumetric belly laughter; which I used to retort their whiney protests. Little did those tiny vagrants realize that I possessed two distinct advantages over the average Tekken gamer. First, I gave three hours of every day after school to my favorite character, Paul Phoenix. Second, I actually did many of the martial disciplines being displayed on screen. Years went by, and the sun finally set on my mall-going days due to maturity. During those years, other 'Tekken' games arrived. Oh sure, there was that Tekken Tag Tournament thing, but it was just a knock-off of Tekken 3 with a weird new ' WWE character-exchange function. Then there was Tekken 4; which although a good game as a stand-alone, failed so miserably to compare to its predecessors that it still makes true Tekken fans shiver a little when they hear it mentioned. Finally, the light of Tekken 5 has arrived. Gone are its predecessor's limiting caged arenas and uneven terrains. We now find ourselves returning to a more classical era of almost limitless arenas, all lined with flat floors- the way it should be. In fairness however, Tekken 5 is, if anything, an excellent rehash of the good old days.
Aside from a few subtle improvements and hiccups, I noticed almost nothing different from Tekken 3 in this title. Characters are responsive and dynamic to your will. Some interesting additions include the ability to splice attacks with throws. King has a particularly familiar action of kicking his opponent in the stomach and following suit with a Stunner. My favorite change-up amongst the characters was Jin Kazama, who plays virtually nothing like his former self. Jin now has a much more practical form of Karate that mixes change-ups with straight-line power kicks and punches. A notable exception to these improvements however, is the new 'Devil Within' mode. By playing from a third-person perspective (this doesn't work in anything but platformers Namco), I was subjected to a barrage of moronic guards and fetch the key quests not seen since the N64 jumped the shark with Banjo-Tooie. Also, the exception of Tekken Bowl in this title is a subject of shame; SHAME. I miss the wiggly Gon nudging a ball up the greased lanes. One other minor complaint is the final boss character, who just loves to follow unblockables with throws to drop you down to half of your health within two seconds of each round. Only the top tier of skilled Tekken fans will overcome this cheap character to arrive at the always pretty (but rarely having a point) full-motion cutscene that waits on the other side. Tekken 5's gameplay gains and loses some ground; keeping the current generation of gamers interested in it's mixed offerings.
Tekken has always been known to provide a superior background and story with each sequel, and Tekken 5 is certainly no sloth or exception in this regard. Each character has his or her own unique reason for being drawn into the 'The King of Iron Fist Tournament'. The Mishima clan rivalry continues, with Heihachi being blown up in the opening cinema this time. To add to the breadth of knowledge available through each subplot, there is also the usual CGI thrown in for every character's ending. Individually, a character's plot is usually rather uninteresting; when coupled with the overwhelming cast however, the game really has its own movie-like quality of events. Some endings are even comical, giving credit to Namco's consistent willingness to experiment. Perhaps someday, in some sequel, we will see Martial Law (Bruce Lee's likeness) actually finish the game with some demeanor of seriousness. I would also like to make special and positive mention of the sheer variety of characters the player is given the option of interacting with. Some characters might seem similar, but Namco has done a great job this time around of setting apart Tekken 5's cast through plotline deviations.
This game is certainly a late bloomer in the Playstation 2's swollen library. Characters are richly detailed, and look realistic against their living backgrounds. A special example of the in-game graphics is an area where the player undergoes combat in a field at night. Wild plants ebb and flow to slighting winds; all while releasing seeds into the air. In fact, Tekken 5 is such a head above other PS2 games, that it is probably better compared to newer PC games in terms of graphical quality. Sound is rich and engrossing while in the heat of battle. Dolby Digital is a fully supported option, and can go a long way in bringing the action a more immersive feel. The background music doesn't seem as memorable this time around, but it is possible that I have simply become jaded towards Tekken 3's faster techno tracks. With that minor music qualm on the backburner, I can confidently say that this game looks and sounds like a five star title.
Play time/ Replayability:
Sadly, Tekken 5 is easy to complete in about a weekend. The only way to get any continuous enjoyment out of this title is invite your friends over. From the looks of Sony's so-far non-existent network strategy; it looks like you should book your friends for a few days at least. The lack of an online element in Tekken 5 with newer Xbox Live fighters on the way might have been a major blunder. Personally, I love the idea of testing my skills against strangers from around the globe (since the arcade scene is officially dead). There just isn't enough social interaction on the consoles yet- but I am patiently waiting for that to change.
Tekken 5 has so much in common with it's predecessors that it is easy to get bored on single player. Once you have all of the endings and have mastered a general strategy to each character's fighting style, there just isn't much of a need to keep your PS2 going. There are however, the first three Tekken prequels included as unlockables on the disk; which should provide some replayability to older gamers, or just condense your disk library. Being a quality title, I can sincerely recommend this game to newer fans. I can not however, recommend this aspect of the game to seasoned veterans or people looking for a more expanded online element to their console gaming experience.
I recommend this game to those that are in need of an in-road into a quality fighting game. Tekken 5 simply won't appeal as much to gamers who played the prequels. This sequel is more about flare than inspiration, making Tekken 5 not for everyone. Virtua Fighter 4 has been out for a little while, and a new Virtua fighter is rumored to be on the way. Hardcore gamers might find more use of their skills with those titles; but not here. With a sigh for nostalgia, I give Tekken 5 a seven out of ten.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 05/06/08
Game Release: Tekken 5 (US, 02/24/05)
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