The fighting game genre is massive and continues to grow each and every year, but there are some specific series that continually stand above the rest. Fighting game fans received the more casual fighter with Injustice 2 last month, and now a more technical styled fighter has arrived with Tekken 7.
Tekken has always centered around the theme of revenge, which dates all the way back to the events prior to the first game where Heihachi Mishima threw his son off of a cliff. He survived due to having the “Devil Gene” in him and this game is essentially the final showdown of that ongoing story.
The protagonist found in each game has differed quite a bit over the years, with Heihachi essentially serving as almost the protagonist in Tekken 7, though still being far from what you’d call a hero. As in the past, the events of the game are centered around the King of Iron Fist tournament, with guest fighter Akuma even playing a decently sized role in it.
Story mode in Tekken 7 is handled a little bit differently than in the past, as it offers both a main story and then character specific stories as well. The story presented in Tekken 7 is a fantastic conclusion to the plot that has been around since the first game, along with teases of what is to come in future entries, but it’s done in a very disjointed way. In comparison to the recent Injustice 2 that had character specific chapters, you will be switching back and forth between different sides almost every other fight in Tekken 7, which can get a little confusing. One fight you’ll be using Heihachi and then the next you will be finding yourself fighting against Heihachi as someone else, which just feels a little jarring.
After a 14 chapter story, along with a prologue, epilogue, and special chapter, the game offers character stories for each of the characters in the game that weren’t involved with the main plot. These are short one fight stories that give a little backstory to the ancillary characters, such as explaining why Bob never made it to the tournament itself. They are a nice addition to have, but definitely don’t be expecting anything too meaty there.
The story can get a little difficult at times for newcomers, but it does have an easier option as well. This includes the ability to perform certain special moves more easily with the story assist button option, but any true Tekken player will go for a higher difficulty option than this. Overall, you’ll probably get about 2-3 hours of time out of this mode before moving onto other game modes.
What has always set the Tekken series apart from many other fights is the technical nature of its combat, with each of the four face buttons controlling a character’s limb, giving you full control of their movement. Tekken 7 introduces the brand new Rage Arts as well, which are basically ultimate attacks for each character that are unlocked when they have taken a good bit of damage only. While you can technically button mash your way to victory against novice players, Tekken 7 features a very involved fighting system that requires a lot of time to master. When facing someone who knows what they are doing, you may find yourself not landing a single hit if you are new to the game.
Due to the technical nature of Tekken 7, the game really could have used more of a detailed tutorial mode for not only new players, but those looking to better hone their skills. The game offers a practice mode that you can use to mess around with specific characters, but the more involved mechanics are hard to figure out without a lot of trial and error. While it will take awhile, you should be able to figure out everything on your own eventually though.
These skills can be utilized in a number of different modes beyond story, which include those focused around either offline or online play. Arcade Battle is your typical ladder based arcade mode that those who played the arcade version of the game should be familiar with. Treasure Battle builds upon that by offering a survival mode where you just keep playing until you lose, though you start with a full health bar each fight. By completing these, you will get extra in-game money and also unlock new gear for your characters to wear.
Customizing your character is a really fun addition to Tekken 7, as you can alter the appearance of the characters in the game by unlocking and selecting different options for areas such as their hair, upper body, glasses, and such, as well as some equipment accessories and also what are essentially full body alternate costumes as well. Some of these can be bought, while others are unlocked. Unlike the recent Injustice 2, these don’t play anywhere near the role of the gear system in that game, as they are just for looks, but it’s still a lot of fun to mess around with to come up with some really unique combinations for the various characters.
Those looking for the multiplayer side of Tekken 7 that the series has been known for have a few options as well, starting off with the local versus mode. This then carries over into the game’s online modes, which are pretty much what you’d expect with ranked matches, player matches, and tournament modes to choose from. The online play was a little problematic around launch, but it has gotten a good bit smoother since, though not completely without some slow loading times.
Across the various game modes, Tekken 7 features a very impressive roster of distinct fighters. In total, there are 36 characters to choose from, 37 if you pre-ordered the game. Of those characters, 10 of them are completely new to Tekken. This includes the aforementioned guest characters Akuma, who manages to fit right in gameplay wise, even with a move set taken right out of Street Fighter. The other nine new fighters are also a lot of fun to use, each coming with very different fighting styles.
Tekken 7 also includes one of the coolest features in any long running series to date, the ability to unlock the cutscenes from previous Tekken games. There are bound to be plenty of people playing Tekken 7 that have missed at least one entry in the series, but you can use the in-game fight money to unlock not only the arcade videos, but the endings for each of the characters in the games as well. This includes not only Tekken 1-6, but also Tag Tournament 1 and 2 and the videos from the Pachi-slot and Pachinko games as well. This is a fantastic feature that hopefully other developers may take note of in the future.
The Tekken series has always featured a steep learning curve and that is certainly no different in Tekken 7. With a story that ties up many strings for the franchise and probably the best gameplay the series has ever seen, longtime fans are in for a real treat with the stellar Tekken 7.
Casual gamers might feel a little overwhelmed, but experienced fighting game fans are going to love the pinnacle of the Tekken series. It may take you awhile to get competitive, but there is no doubt you’ll have a lot of fun along the way in the much awaited Tekken 7, whether you are using a newcomer like Lucky Chloe or a series veteran like King.
8.5 Cliff Throws Out Of 10
Release Date: June 2nd, 2017 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
Disclosure: Tekken 7 Was Provided By The Publisher For Coverage Purposes