Review by Nabeshin

"Welcome to the King of Iron Fist Tournament 6. IMO, the best one yet."

Round one, fight! The announcer shouts as Armor King and Ganryu square off in an old stone building. Lava rains in through the destroyed structure as Ganryu rushes in to give Armor King a vicious slap to the head. Armor King ducks it and, in an impressive show of strength, lifts his enormous opponent, holding him verticaly, upside down, just before jumping up and driving the hapless sumo head-first into the floor. Suddenly, the entire floor collapses as both fighters fall to the ground below. Despite being dropped on his noggin hard enough to break a stone floor, Ganryu picks himself up at the same time as his armor-clad, jaguar masked rival. Now they are outside in the middle of a violent volcanic eruption in what would otherwise be a tropical paridise, as lava continues to rain in the dying sunset, spreading fires amongst the stage. Armor King's armor gleams in the flames' red light as Ganryu promptly whips the masked wrestler aside. He jolts from the impact of colliding into a nearby stone wall just before the sumo gives him a palm combination not unlike E. Honda's patented Hundred Hand Slap. The palm trees scattered about and sparkling orange ocean bear the only witness to the intense battle.

Namco continues to imrpove on the Tekken series by adding destructible walls and floors to the battles. And the graphics, while not state-of-the-art, are the best the Tekken has seen yet, and this is coming from someone who doesn't own an HD t.v. Even in standar depth, if you zoom in on a character's model in the customization mode, you can see incredible detail put into just their skin alone.

Speaking of customization, Tekken 5's customization is back, and much improved. The items you can equip your characters with are no longer limited to just accesories. Many new attires can be equipped on the characters, some of which giving them stat boosts like in Soul Calibur IV. Putting a baseball cap, shades, a mucle tanktop and camo pants on Kazuya is especialy entertaining, as is giving Paul a cowboy hat that somehow manages to conceal his famous tower haircut. You can actualy change Paul's hairdo to a ponytail, give him a red jacket, grey t-shirt and blue jeans to turn him into something that greatly resembles Terry Bogard. Julia can be outfitted with her adoptive mother, Michelle Chang's attire from the first two instalments of the series.

The game's awesome graphics, which give near-perfect lighting effects that gleam off of certain attires, like the afforementioned Armor King's armor, is balnced by an impressive roster of more than 40 characters, more than any Tekken game to date. Nearly every character from the series, including characters that have only been in a couple of games, such as Bruce and Ganryu, have returned. Only Michelle, Forrest Law (Marshall takes his stead), Devil Kazuya/Angel, Kunimitsu, Ogre, Dr. B, Jinpachi, Combot and Gon do not return.

Naturaly, several new characters have appeared. like the morbidly obese American fighter Bob, Spanish matador Miguel, and a mysterious astrologer chick Zafina. Lars is your stereoptypical spike-headed anime-esque amnesiac, Dr. B's pink haired daughter Alisa who fights with an assortment of high-tech gear, and a young kid named Leo have joined the fun as well.

The gameplay is just how Tekken should be. Fast paced, fluid, and most importantly, FUN. The same familiar left/right punch/kick has returned, because it works. This should be a treat for veterans of the series and newcomers alike. One of the things I like best about the Tekken series is the fact that, unlike some fighting games such as Street Fighter, you don't have know every character down to the last gritty detail to have any chance of winning, yet it's deep enough that only expert players will know how to pull of some of the REALLY wicked combos. There's enough here for casual and hardcore gamers alike. Another thing I really like about Tekken 6 is the character balance. Unlike some XBL games, (Marvel vs. Capcom 2) T6's roster is incredibly well balanced in my opinion. Hwoarang and his sensei Baek with their lightning fast kicks that put Chun-Li to shame, Supercop Lei Wulong, Paul Phoenix and his Bruce-Lee esque buddy Marshall Law, the Brazilian capoera beauty Christie Monteiro, and wooden mimic Mokujin all have well-balanced characteristics that make no fight completely one-sided. Every character in this game is perfectly capable of taking on any other character on the roster.

Let's get into single-player mode for a while. The ranking-system endless battle from Tekken 5's arcade mode is back, under the name "ghost batte". There's the same survival and team battle modes, as well as a classic arcade mode, which has the ranking system of ghost mode but eventualy ends after several stages and you defeat Tekken's most horrifyingly cheap final boss yet: Azazel.

Tekken 6 adds a new mode of play, "Scenerio Campaign." While it doesn't bring anything new to the table, it's the best way to earn money to unlock the over-priced extra attires for characters, and occasionaly find a freebie after defeating an enemy. It's pretty much a side-scrolling brawler along the lines of Streets of Rage and Final Fight, albiet with a 3D twist. I found myself uninterested in the story of this mode and skipping through the cutscenes, so I'm not sure on the actualy story here. It starts out with only Lars and Alisa as playable characters, but more become unlocked as you progress through the mode's many stages. One of the stages is actualy a seperat mode, "Arena." This is the classic Tekken mode, where you learn each character's story, advance through stages to ultimately fight the final boss and unlock your character's ending. Once you complete Scenrio Campaign, single player modes become nothing more than practice and earning more money to unlock new attires for characters.

Online mode is a treat. The fights I have competed in so far have been almost lag-free, and with the well-balanced roster I found myself never having to cower in fear of certain characters, unlike MVC2's Sentinel. Online player matches are fun when you're in a four player lobby all taking turns to try and beat the champ. Tekken 5's ranking system also reappears in ranked mode. You can spend hours on this mode trying to get every character to the highest rank.

While Tekken 6 doesn't really bring anything new to the table, it's still a very fun, fast-paced title with very high replay value between promoting all of your characters to the highest rank and buying all of their available clothes. After all of this and you're still feeling iffy, it's at least worth a rental. But when you do fight online, get ready to put up a fight if you come across thunderdragonus (myself).

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/30/09

Game Release: Tekken 6 (US, 10/27/09)

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