Review by Pokejedservo

"A genuinely good port thats about on par with its Arcade counterpart."

For a little over a decade now the Tekken series has been a famous 3D fighter from the great folks at Namco. Tekken 4 was not deemed an absolute disappointment but it's been highly said that it could've been so much more than it is. (Admittingly even I am one of those whom have felt that way.) But many a fan has declared this to be quite the step in the right direction. And I for the most part agree with that popular sentiment even including this highly above average port. Granted it alongside with its Arcade counterpart has had plenty of small flaws and a big flaw or few. (But in different ways that I'll tell you more about later in this very review your reading.) But I will already state this much, its still definitely one of the better Tekken games I've played in years. Though one thing that surprised me from the start is that when you start playing the game you'll actually be treated to playing a rather “Original Star Fox”-like shooter game for a few moments. (Strange considering that Namco is being a prominent reason why the Star Fox series is still alive.) Control is not too bad and its overall pretty decent though I wouldn't advise just skipping it if I were you even though you could. (For some strange reason the enemy A.I is more reasonable if you fully play it. Not necessarily easier all that much but not quite as cheap.)

One of the things that impressed me immediately was the great Story Mode. I admit I usually play Tekken games in the Arcade which don't have anywhere near as much storyline as their console counterparts. But still this is a surprisingly well done mode that is even more proof that Fighting games can make GREAT character studies in storyline if done right. Its amount of characterization is not as much as the underrated wonder that is “SNK Vs. Capcom CHAOS” but its very much close. In certain matches the character you play as and his/her opponent briefly chat for a bit. They are usually either Dramatic or Comedic. They are for the most part bits of character development but sometimes their a bit of random fun as well. And sometimes you even get a special additional cinematic sequence either when you win or lose or sometimes both. They are genuinely quite entertaining to watch in more ways than one. They utilize almost every chance they got for good character interaction but not entirely. The voice acting is handled ala “Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution” style on how just about everyone speaks their native tongue. Another words unlike most fighting games the whole entire cast does not speak just one language usually either English or Japanese. While they got some veteran seiyuu (Japanese VA) in this game you can tell that the English VA's are not veteran voice talent. Fortunately the English voice acting is for the most part pretty good except for Steve Fox which sounds like a bad Liquid Snake impersonation. The endings are usually also quite the treat on how most of them are very well done and are quite above average. (Though some of them are just simply decent at best.) They alone give this game plenty of replay value.

And alike the recent aforementioned Sega Budget game wonder this too lets you customize your characters attire in many fascinating ways. It can also be used to unlock certain outfits to even a couple of characters. (Though keep in mind that most of the characters will still be unlocked only if you go through Story Mode enough times.) There are certain other modes to this game as well. Some are pretty good like Arcade and Survival, others are surprisingly not that great like Time Trial. (You barely get any benefit out of it.) The Practice mode is not too terrible but it was one aspect that one would wish they did like VF4 Evolution. (Even though despite that unfavorable comparison this game is still better IMO anyway.) This also features a few new characters such as the rather Wesley Snipes-like Raven, Chinese Musclebond Martial Artist Feng Wei, Asuka Kazama, and last boss Jinpachi Mishima. They all had pretty good introductions in this game not quite up to the likes of Super Street Fighter II but still. Jinpachi Mishima was once the kind father of Heihachi Mishima (and best friend of Wang) now possessed by the demonic “Devil Gene” inside of him. The main plot of this game is that Kazuya was betrayed by the G Corporation while he and Heihachi got attacked by JACKS but during the aftermath devil Jinpachi was released. And now for various reasons due to the various characters you play as its up to you to stop him as he is the seemingly token “last boss that everyone fights”. There are more twists to this but I won't spoil anything for you here.

The gameplay is for the most part not much different to how its been over the past 10 years. (Aside from that Yoshimitsu actually occasionally uses his sword for slashing instead of a pogo stick or helicopter.) The gameplay itself is not bad at all however it is still flawed. Despite on fights can very easily go for about seconds the speed of the actual attacks are usually not quick so you can very easily suffer multiple counterattacks. And while blocking is existent in this game it only functions for a portion of the time. But one flaw from the arcade version that got fixed here is that at least nobody plays a little TOO slow this time like Bryan Fury. (Even though he is even more of a “Arrogant Jerk” to put it VERY nicely in this game during story mode.) The A.I of the characters you fight against can be very inconsistent. Sometimes their reasonable to go through but usually do hold some semblance of challenge (especially in later rounds) other times their frustratingly hard and a lot cheaper in their tactics. (But remember playing that rather “Star Fox-like game I told you about earlier in the review improves your chances of better A.I) The only one that is consistently cheap is Jinpachi Mishima since he can use powerful projectile fireballs, stun blasts and even occasionally absorb your energy. Chances are you'll most likely be spending time with him most especially if the character you fight as is big and slow with easily counterattack-able moves. Though to be fair beating him is still genuinely possible its more of a test of timing if anything else. And besides I've played many a Fighting game and I've seen much cheaper boss characters before. (Though I have also seen boss characters that are also more fair and balanced as well, Jedah from Darkstalkers 3 anyone?)

Music is pretty good as well as it has some of the best music in the whole Tekken series, however its still somewhat above average in general. The Graphics in this game were advertised as “absolutely revolutionary” from Namco. Are they? Not really, the Graphics are definitely good don't get me wrong. Not too mention on how I find this to be better than the past Tekken games in the series. But it's still not quite up to par with Dead or Alive and the like. (Granted which is X-Box only as this game is PS2 only.) No offense to the PS2 and the like but I'm really beginning to wonder if Namco should finally get this series to explore on other consoles like they did wih Tekken Advance on the GBA. I like the PS2 don't get me wrong but keep in mind that this isn't the PS1/N64 era anymore. There are two additional modes in this game one which is “Devil Within” starring Jin Kazama. It's a 3-D brawler in which Jin battles a lot of robots and the like to find out about his dark past. Control factor and gameplay structure are pretty good but its nowhere near as good as the likes of Dynamite Cop and Zombie's Revenge. There is also “Arcade History” in which lets you play “Perfectly Direct” ports of the 1st 3 Tekken games. It's a definitely nice idea and those games are still pretty fun to get into. While its nice that its not hard to get access to the dipswitches (the options list for the Arcade to toggle with difficulty factor and the like). The only flaw I can point out with it is that you can only get out of playing either one of the 3 games only a portion of the time. So in another words for the most part you'll have to reset the game in order to get back to Tekken 5. So its not bad but it lacks the polish the “Midway Arcade Treasures” series had.

Overall if you're a big fan of Tekken this is definitely recommendable to you. As for more casual players and the like well only if your really patient, if not then I'd suggest at least a rental. The good news is that its definitely one of the best games for this series, however even Namco has still done better in the past. *cough*Soul Calibur II*cough* But still despite on how there is room for improvement this does take the series in a very good step in the right direction. Besides if anything else it'll at least be a very good alternative for those whom have no access to its Arcade version whatsoever at least.

+ One of the best games of its series in years
+ Great Story Mode with lots of characters to choose from
+ Has some of the better music of this series in here
+ Some of the additional modes are interesting
+ Tekken 5 utilizes some of the best features from VF4 Evolution
- The Gameplay ITSELF is not bad at all, unfortunately it has plenty of small buy annoying flaws
- Jinpachi is not one of the cheapest boss characters ever for the genre but he is still awfully cheap anyways
- Time Trial mode is pretty much worthless
- Arcade History is not bad at all it just lacks the polish that the “Midway Arcade Treasures” series had
- Those whom are more impatient might want to just simply rent this game first and Namco still has a way to go before Tekken will be more on par with the Soul Calibur series.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 04/04/05

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