Review by GreatMutah

"The King of the Iron Fist Returns in grand form"

The Tekken series has seen a lot these last ten years. From its inception in the arcade years ago to now, the series has undergone its share of upgrades, different characters and gameplay enhancements. One of the first two major 3D fighting games to last this long, Tekken is easily North America's VF. People in Japan line up in droves to play VF. The same can be said for Tekken over here. That being the case, T5 has borrowed a few ideas from VF as well as added their own enhnancements to make this an overall excellent game. More characters, more modes, more replay value and top notch gameplay make this one a winner.

You know, I did like the way T4 looked, but this one blows it out of the water. Aesthetically speaking, the characters are a little smaller than they were in 4, but the detail is much greater. Hair movements, scars, bullets wrapped around the waist (thank you for being awesome Mr. Fury) and just about every little detail being crystal clear really show what Namco can do with PS2 hardware. T4 wasn't a bad looking game, but Soul Calibur II put it to shame easily. T5 redeems itself. It just may be the best looking fighter on PS2. The characters alone are great, but the backgrounds are awesome. The burning dojo has excellent light and fire effects, there's one stage with a giant stone dragon encircling it, the space station looks sweet, it's pretty. The only gripes I have are on the space station. When you slam someone in the ground, the glass cracks. If they're slammed again within proximity of the initial crack, the glass cracks again, but it's a new crack and the old one disappears. This happens on some stages that allow the concrete to break as well. It just seems like a sloppy little thing to miss. It doesn't hamper the game too much but it does detract a little. Overall though, the game looks phenomenal. Excellent. I give it a 9

Tekken's not always been known for outstanding music. This one is. The soundtrack is very cool, each stage has a great theme and the style of music fits each stage. The sound effects are mostly traditional Tekken sounds with some new ones put in, but there's one exception: You actually FEEL the sound when you hit someone!! If there's one thing Tekken's lacked compared to DOA, it's the quality of sound. In DOA, you know when you're smashing someone's entrails. Tekken wasn't always so good at this. Well, that's changed. You hit someone, they feel it, heck you hear and feel it! If you get someone against a wall, through a punch, miss them but hit the wall, the hit with the wall sounds. And it sounds great. Overall, sound gets a 10. This one's golden.

Think about T4 for a minute. The gameplay was a little slow compared to T3/Tag, and it had those ridiculous position change moves. There were objects that obstructed the environment and uneven terrain. Well, take that and throw it out. Tekken 5's pace is more akin to 3/Tag, and it shows. The game moves at a good pace. There's definitely a flow here. Stages are on even ground. No inclines, slopes, nothing. The walls are there, but the position changes are not. Walls can still get you in trouble, but any 3D fighting player knows how to get out of these situations. There's no obstructions in the main arenas of each stage, however, certain objects and floors are destructable (as mentioned above). The game feels much more balanced this time around. It's easy to pick up and play, there's a lot to learn, and fun to be had. The control is as good as its every been. I still prefer the VF style of playing (I don't get in trouble with blocking as much), but this is by far the best controlling Tekken, ever. The combos flow much better (timing's not as bad as in previous games), counters (for those that have them) are effective and overall it's works very well. It gets a 9 because I just don't want to put the controller down. That's saying a lot coming from me.

Story Mode - Same is in 4, pick a fighter go through the story, get info, win game, ending unlock character. Works quite well. Final boss is a beast.
Time Attack- almost same as above, but working against the clock.
Vs.- Self explanatory.
Practice- A few more options have been added and you can have the CPU do combos against you in order to learn how to guard against them. Still not quite what VF4 did with their training mode (have the CPU record a sequence of moves or learn off your fighting style), but they're moving in a good direction.

Arcade Mode - Here's where Tekken really shows a VF influence. Once upon a time, SEGA made Virtua Fighter 4. The japanese arcade machine had a card slot that allowed you to save a character to a card and use that character to win matches, gain experience and get items to customize your character. This didn't happen in the US arcades so much, because VF has a bigger following in Japan. This was incorporated into the single player mode. 2-3 years later, Namco catches on this idea and brings it to the States, which is a sweet idea. The single player version is Arcade mode in T5. You pick a charcter and go through match after match, nonstop. You rank up and gain gold. Higher ranks of characters are more skilled, just like in VF4. All these comparisons I'm making are good things. You use the gold to buy items in the customize menu. You can change your characters costume colors, buy accessories and even new costumes. That's not all! By completing Story Mode, you get 100,000 g for each character you win with (only on their first time through). Okay, cool. The mode works, it basically helps you get better at the game (which is not a bad thing) and tricking out your characters appearance, plus getting new costumes and ranking up, is cool in my book. To win at higher ranks you have to get better yourself.

There are some problems though. The main one is that you have 1 profile for all 30 characters. That's a minor gripe but I had fun naming each character something different and cool in my VF4 save (ie. Jacky- The PAIN, Vanessa - BIG HATE). One profile, one name. You don't earn any points in Vs. mode, which isn't such a big deal, but that's kind of the point of vs. in the arcade anyways. One other thing is there's no stat tracking, at least none that I'm aware of. In VF you get a win percentage, win/loss and experience (it just shows how well you've done). This a small window that shows at the beginning of each match. Why Namco didn't put something like this in is beyond me, but it would have been nice.

Devil Within- Tekken's new action/adventure mode. Reminds me of quest from Tobal no. 1 a little bit. Move Jin through maze, kill bad guys, turn into Devil Jin wreak havoc, repeat. It controls very well and it looks good. The stages though, get repetitive fast and the mode seems to drag on. Not a bad idea though. It's much better than force. And the control is simple, but fluid. It plays great, but it just gets boring.

Arcade History - Tekken 1, 2 and 3 at your service. These are NOT the PSX versions that you've probably played at your house. These are the versions straight from the arcade. They don't save and don't have endings, but if you just want to play, they're great. Everyone can see how far the series has come. Note to Capcom: this is how you do a fighting game collection. New game, plus 3 full arcade classics > Full game of most recent release in main series plus hackneyed version of classic that put it on the map. Hyper SF was fun, but it wasn't the original games.

All in all, even with a not so hot action/adventure game, the modes get an 8. Good stuff, a little lacking in the Arcade mode but definitely a lot in the way of replay value.

Replay- 10/10 Easily. Arcade mode. Try mastering all 30 characters.

All in all, this game's great. The game has made huge strides forward. It doesn't reinvent itself from the ground up, but it reestablishes why Tekken was so good in the first place. The new single player mode will keep you playing for months and the story mode fills in all the details in the ongoing Mishima family soap opera. So pick up a controller, pick Bryan Fury, hit f,f+3 (also known as The Bryan Fury Kick of Doom) and start laying people to waste. The King of the Iron Fist has returned. Enter The Tekken.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/28/05

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