For 15 years, Tekken has been a staple in the fighting game genre. It’s gone from being an arcade and PlayStation exclusive, to finally including the millions of Xbox 360 owners across the world with it’s latest installment. So Tekken-newbies, prepare for a world of hurt. Tekken-gurus, dust off your fighting fingers. Whichever you are, prepare yourself for some frustration, rage, and glory-moments as you welcome Tekken 6 to your console.
This is a big game, and there’s a lot to tell, so let’s start with the strongest feature of the game – the roster. Tekken 6 has 41 playable characters: from the old favorites (like Kazuya, Paul, and Nina) to a few brand new characters. Experienced players will notice a few changes that were made to the characters including: a couple new attacks per character; a few changes made to the move-sets of returning characters; powerful combos deal less damage; and a few fighting stances were tweaked. Overall, those modifications are very minor, and you will slip right into your old standby’s fighting style without a hitch.
Here’s a rundown on the new playable characters:
- Alisa Bosconovitch is a fem-bot with a bizarre move set including chainsaw arm attacks and offering her exploding head to an opponent. She is also your AI helper in the campaign mode.
- Bob is an American martial arts expert who purposefully became obese as part of his training. It pays off though, because he’s big, strong, and surprisingly fast.
- Lars Alexandersson bears some kind of relation to Heihachi. With that Mishima blood pumping through him, his moves are very similar to Jin and Kazuya. He’s the plot mover and main character for the Scenario Campaign.
- Leo Kiesin is androgynous by name, by outfit choices, and even by the masculine fighting style used – but this tiny German female character can play with the big boys with powerful moves and a stance like Heihachi.
- Miguel Caballero Rojo hails from Spain and has no formal martial arts training. Instead, he has a very unique fighting stance and style — like a bull fighter. But with enough dedication you can master his one hit KO.
- Zafina fights like no one I have seen before; her influences take strongly from a snake and a spider. She bends, slinks, and attacks from unexpected positions. While the style is beautiful and fierce, it’s ultimately creepy.
There are two non-playable characters as well:
- Nancy-MI847J is a multi-legged robot that sports a dinosaur head, a heavy arsenal of weapons/attacks, and a huge health bar. Nancy-MI847J is only playable once during the campaign mode, and otherwise is only a mini-boss that precedes fighting Jin as a bonus round during the arcade play.
- Azazel is the final boss for the game. He’s towers over his opponents and has moves similar to previous Tekken bosses including a stun attack (Jinpachi Mishima) and shooting fire lasers (Devil, Angel, and Devil-Jin). He can also summon claw-like boulders to shoot out of the ground, form into a ball and launch at his opponent, and slam them with his tail.
Experienced players are used to performing juggling combos, roll evasions, throw counters, and wall juggles. Tekken 6 gives you something new to add to the damage your 10 move combos dish out. The bound system allows you to slam your airborne (and thoroughly juggled) opponent to the ground, leaving them incapacitated for a few moments and vulnerable to attack. Each character has their own launch for using this trick, adding to the list of moves for Tekken worshippers to learn.
Another new feature added to Tekken 6 is called Rage. Basically, when you reach about the last 10% of your health bar, your character will glow with a red aura of Rage, letting you deal more damage to your opponent. This gives you a chance to pull off an incredible win from time to time, but normally, since it kicks in so close to death, it does little to help you.
While Tekken 6 supplies the standard Survival and Time Attack, there is the usual Arcade mode, which held on to the ranking system from Tekken 5. As you fight you earn ranks, and the AI emulates a human opponent by giving itself a name, a win/loss record, and it ups the difficulty as you progress. If the Arcade mode is getting too drab, you can take on a virtually endless list of opponents in Ghost Battle. The difference is that you fight against the ghost data of real players downloaded online. There are also two dedicated 2-player modes consisting of VS Battle and Team Battle. If you feel you’re up to snuff, you can venture into the online VS Battle, playing in ranked or social matches. Upon trying this you may find that your button-mashing skills will get you killed over and over, requiring you to hit the Practice Mode to polish your moves. This proves to be invaluable. There you will have an opportunity to learn the moves and combos for each character. While you may be concerned with your combo-tapping abilities, the real concern with the online play is the LAG. It’s terrible. I have a fantastic connection, but the lag was still bad enough to be noticeable in the delay between controller input and what’s happening on screen. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like if I had poor connection and was matched with someone with equally poor connection. Yikes.
Past Tekkens have offered a couple gameplay variants besides 1 on 1 fighting, but this one only offers a beat-’em-up style Scenario Campaign. If you’re at all vested in the Tekken storyline, you may enjoy it a little, considering there are a bunch of long cut-scenes associated with each ‘level.’ It also is the only way to unlock the full video endings for each character.
Now, let me elaborate a little. This is by far the most frustrating part of Tekken 6. You go from level to level, running along a linear path in a visually pleasing (but repetitive) cycle of locales. You play as Lars (though you can choose to play as another character, but it’s always Lars in the cut-scenes), and Alisa joins you as your AI teammate. They are on a mission to do…well, whatever it is that apparently seems so important to them. Hear me out: Lars has lost his memory (of course!), is on a mission to find so-and-so, runs into Heihachi blah blah blah, fights Jin, yadda yadda, “oh-no!” - a surprise twist, and has a vague ending with no definites. If you’ve played Tekken in the past then you’ve seen it all before. Same story…new characters…and boring to most gamers. Besides the story, there are some serious gameplay flaws. Getting to each boss requires fighting through hordes of enemies, sometimes 6+ at a time. Your AI is both a help and a burden to you — sometimes she’ll fight, and sometimes she’ll stand there while an enemy kicks her ass. You cycle your attention on different enemies by pushing a button, but it can take a second to react. This can be detrimental when your attention is still focused on a dead enemy while you have 3 more kicking your butt. The ledges are slippery and you’re constantly falling off them to your death, and if you die at any time you have to start over from the beginning. You can’t play Campaign with a friend, either local or online, you must use the AI. The camera has a mind of it’s own and likes find angles that prevent you from seeing. The only real plus to the Campaign is that it’s your best chance at banking some serious coin to spend on customizable clothing — which will give your favorite character not only a cool new look, but little perks and bonusesthat carry over into all your offline gameplay. The baddies drop the loot (clothes and money) and you can equip them for the character you are currently using, giving incentive to play the Scenario Campaign multiple times. For some that may be true, but I couldn’t imagine doing it more than once. It’s that annoying and poorly done.
Tekken 6 is definitely a pretty game, but it’s by no means the most graphically amazing fighter out there. The skins have a waxy look, making them look doll-like, but the details on the models are pretty solid. The stages’ environments are rather lively and can actually be pretty distracting. It’s hard to focus when you have helicopters crashing around you and watching poorly rendered farm animals go flying when you accidentally kick them. The sound is well done though, with effective bone-crunchings and wails from fist-throwing players that add a little dash of realism. The worst technical downfall of Tekken 6 is it’s load times. You load before battle. You load between cut-scenes. You load to select a character. You load to go online. You load to go offline. Get the idea? Come on Tekken, you can do better than that.
All in all Tekken 6 is a solid fighter game. If you’re already a fanboy of the franchise then you’re going to love this. Assuming that’s you, then you are probably a combo-master, and this game will entice you even more. If you are the button-mashing type that only plays games like this when your friends taunt you, then don’t bother getting it, unless you have LOTS of time to dedicate to learning to get better. The learning curve on this game is slightly steep (like any fighter game), and button-mashing will not get you very far. If you’re more the casual Tekken player, you might give this a try. You have the potential to at least beat the game, but the frustration level gets pretty intense unless you too have the time to spend hours in the Practice mode, polishing your game. Also, being the casual gamer, you won’t be able to overlook all the aforementioned faults to really enjoy this game much, unlike the fanboys. I have always considered myself a casual gamer, though I have my strengths in certain genres and games — Tekken being one of them. Even so, I can see where this one missed the mark, and will abandon a great many uninformed and blindsided consumers. So please, heed my warning and rent this one before you buy it, if you aren’t proficient in the ways of Tekken.
I give Tekken 6 3.5 “Punch-dancing Bears” out of 5