Sunday, 26 December 2010

Game Review: Tekken 6-PS3, Xbox 360

In todays competitive games market where online gaming is the dominant factor in the success or failure of a title even the most popular franchises have to do more than a tweak here and a polish there to raise its head above the crowd in a bid for front room dominance. One such series is Tekken and from its early days as the king of Playstation fighters Tekken has always been a firm favourite amongst beat ‘em up fans by not so much re-inventing itself, but by staying true to its form as an accessible fighter that boasts huge amounts of hidden depth and character. It will come as a welcome surprise then to learn that Tekken 6 has stayed true to said formula.

Arcade, Vs, Online and Ghost Mode, (where you’re pitted against an endless stream opponents who’s skills are based on some of Tekken’s most proficient players as well as those you can download to test your skills), continue to deliver as satisfying a fighting experience we’ve come to expect from the series and will often have you reaching for the pad for ‘just one more go’. In a surprise move from Namco the game starts with every character unlocked; however there are also several new faces added to the roster with each bringing their own unique style to the proceedings. These new fighters come in the shape of all rounder, Spanish born Miguel; head popping cyborg Alisa; a rather large but deceptively swift Bob; wiry Egyptian hotty, Zafina; Lars who has connections to the Mishima’s; and Leo, who's is possibly the most accessible of the new breed. Along with these new characters there’s also two new systems present in combat; ‘Rage’ and ‘Bound’. The former gives players whose health is at a dangerously low level the ability to hit just that bit harder whilst the latter allows players who have begun a juggle combo to literally smash their opponent into the ground making them bounce back up into the air to unleash another barrage of strikes.

In past iterations Namco have included a handful of game modes with Tekken that stray away from the normal Vs modes. These have come in the shape of Tekken Bowl, (a very playable take on 10 pin bowling), Tekken Force and Devil Within, (both an awful take on the scrolling beat ‘em up of yesteryear), and in the sixth iteration we now have Scenario Mode. Much like Tekken Force before it Scenario Mode requires that you move from one area to the next happy slapping anyone in your path before ending each stage with the obligatory ‘Boss Fight’. Unfortunately it rarely raises itself above being anything other than a mild distraction and only really serves as a tool for which to add more features and customisations for other game modes whilst also allowing you to put your own stamp on your favourite fighters with new clothing and accessories. You could simply ignore Scenario Mode but, and here’s the rub, whereas before the unlocking of hidden characters, extra costumes, levels, cinematics and story came down to playing through Tekken’s single player arcade mode, in order to unlock many of Tekken 6’s bonus content you have to play through this dreary scrolling beat ‘em up many times over.

Thankfully then the combat proper in Tekken 6 looks and plays fantastic and is unquestionably the best of the series yet; both visually and in execution. Characters are big, bold and beautifully rendered with slick animations that are complimented with fighting arenas that are lavishly detailed and a musical score that carries the pace of battle superbly. While the traditional game modes may have-for reasons only known to Namco-taken a back seat to some half baked scrolling beat ‘em up, Tekken has a had long and favourable history where even the low points have always outclassed many other games in the genre and Tekken 6 is no exception to that rule.

Great to look at and-Scenario Mode aside-even better to play, Tekken 6 can safely hold its head high as a testament to the fact that while the humble beat ‘em up may have taken a backseat to the draw of the First Person Shooter in many a gamers homes it’s a genre that is still very much alive and kicking.


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