Review by Rocky Valkryie

"Tekken proves its worth once again."

Well, it's here, and the bottom line is that it's fun to play. Are there any other aspects of the game you need to consider when deciding whether or not to buy this game? Well, of course. Let me address some of these issues, then I'll go on with the review.

First of all, this game can be played casually, as in your friends can come in, pick up the game in no time and play pretty well. Pretty well, but probably not at a high level. But nonetheless, it's not something you absolutely have to devote hours of your time to, but you can through the arcade mode. More on that later. Then, we can consider that it is both a long game and short game. Yeah, that's another paradox, as you can play this game for a few minutes and not have to devote an entire evening to it, like you would an RPG or some action games, but you can also, unlike its previous incarnations and some other fighting games, spend hours and hours unlocking more and more things, raising and maintaining your ranking, among other things. Games like Virtua Fighter 4 and Street Fighter Alpha 3 did this right: it gave the players a reason to stay on for another 60 hours of playing the same game in order to reach goals. Tekken 4, in comparison, had virtually no replay value other than its 2-player mode, which of course is the main draw of any fighting game.

Gameplay 9/10 Okay, well, the first thing to do is compare this to Tekken 4, which by comparison, is really bad. They fixed the sidewalking issues and made the sidestepping a little less sensitive, and the tracks of the moves are more straight now. They also fixed the balance of a lot of moves, which is nice, including removing the metagame-warping JFLS. So basically, a return to more classic Tekken-style combat, instead of trying to incorporate a more 3D system. Lots of characters are more balanced, though a lot of characters are still distinctly better than others, but even characters like JACK-5 can be played on an equal level, up until low to mid-level play. The only gripe I had with playing this game was that the new boss, Jinpachi, was cheap as all hell. I'm not talking scrubby, "Paul's deathfist is cheap," but genuine, "Stun, teleport, fireball, stun, teleport, fireball, you die," cheap. Yes, he has a move that stuns you from about 1 and a half characters' distance away, which knocks you out of whatever move you are executing, even if you are in the air... not to mention that the stun lasts almost 2 seconds. He has an unblockable move which you can't duck or sidestep, and that move drains your life. He has a fireball which takes half your life away. I could get past all that and his stream of Mishima moves, but just when I thought I had him beat, he pulls out his double fireball. The pain... the pain...

Story 7/10 Most of the stories are cute, intense or amusing, but the endings on some of the characters aren't very... anything. They're much too short. Ling's is pretty funny, but they tried to cram the whole thing under one minute, so it feels a little rushed, but overall, it's not bad. My only real gripe, once again, that you have to fight through Jinpachi through the 30th time to get to these mostly unsatisfying 30-second clips. Oh, that and Heihachi in a thong.

Graphics 10/10 Simply at the top of its class. The character models, the backgrounds, the fluidity of it all, it's all good. The collision detection is great, the walls don't get in your way like they did in Tekken 4. Dead or Alive has pretty good character models, but they're just not as smooth and refined as these are and it has more interactive stages, but there's too much of a separation between the way the characters look and the way that the arena looks. Plus, the lighting and shadowing effects, especially in the Secret Garden and Moonlit Wilderness stages are brilliant in the way they look and the way that they interact graphically with the characters. Virtua Fighter 4 was basically at the same level as Tekken 4 was, which is smooth, but it interfered with the physical space and drew too much distinction between the style of the stage against the style of the characters.

Sound 8/10 Nothing that special. The characters mostly spoke their own languages, and that was a new addition. Some of the characters, especially the Chinese ones, spoke languages other than Chinese, but that is forgivable in terms of the story. The music and the sound effects are solid, but nothing exceptional. All in all, it's good, though. It fits.

Replayability 8/10 So here's the thing... with the new arcade mode that emulates the arcade version of the game that incorporates nicknames and different players, a ton of value is added. Many people will point to the lack of online play and complain, saying that since Dead or Alive is online, that it should be doable for Tekken as well. First of all, if you've ever played any game online, not to mention a fighting game, like Tekken, that builds the core of its strategy on exact framerates, frame traps and split-second timing, you should know that lag is a killer. Hate to be the one to tell you, but even Dead or Alive lags a lot. And that's with having good connections; no telling what will happen once you introduce a 56ker. Tekken, online, would lose core fanbase and gain a few casual gamers. If that's your thing, go play Dead or Alive: Ultimate online. But if you want to know the thrill of competing with mind games, frame traps and exact split-second decisions, then play Tekken.

Extras 5/10 Well, Tekken 1, 2 and 3 are included with this game, and that's cool. It lets you play almost anyone in the Tekken universe at one point or another. You get Starblade, which is mostly boring, but that doesn't really matter, since you have to sit through 30+ Jinpachi fights to get it anyway. But my real complaint is Devil Within. Not since The Bouncer has there been such a bad beat-em-up, so boring I spent 15 minutes on it and nearly fell asleep. I'm almost tempted to say that it's worse than Tekken Force. It's clunky, Jin jumps weird and the whole game is just mashing and jumping. Come on, Namco, you can do better. Well... maybe you can't, seeing as how you're partially responsible for Ehrgeiz.

Overall 8/10 An excellent game, if you're into 3D fighters. It's more visceral and more fluid than Dead or Alive, not as clunky or with as steep a learning curve as Virtua Fighter and it's a completely different experience than Soul Calibur. The bottom line is, that it's a good, fun game and if you're into 3D fighters a lot, you should probably check it out. It won't disappoint.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/02/05

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