It's been a half decade since a core Tekken game has come out, but it doesn't seem like the franchise has lost any steam in that time. The recently-released Tekken 7 continues the series' tradition for excellence by providing a great fighting game experience.
Believe it or not, Tekken 7 actually came out more than two years ago. Called Tekken 7: Fated Retribution, it's a version for coin-op arcades. Since then, the game's been tweaked and perfected. Now on consoles, the game is well polished with tight controls, great visuals, and good gameplay.
For the uninitiated, Tekken games are not side-scrolling 2D fighters like the Street Fighter series or the recently-released Injustice 2. Rather, there's 3D fighters meaning that players can not only go forward and back on the X-axis and jump/crouch on the y-axis, but also step into the foreground or background along the z-axis. Movement, therefore, is a large part of combat and it makes it that much different from its competition.
While we're on the topic of combat, gamers should be happy to know that the action is crisp and on point. Like in previous Tekken games, there is an emphasis on finding some way to string combos together whether that's on the ground or by "juggling" your opponent in the air in order to max out the damage. This could be quite the feat depending on the matchup and skill level of the player, but the game's newly-introduced screw attacks make this much easier to accomplish by launching opponents into a slow airborne spiral to allow the player time to get in a few extra hits. Of course, opponents (AI or real life) can do this as well.
Tekken 7 also features an overhauled rage system. The rage system increases a character's attack power and essentially unlocks a very powerful attack (think something like a Hyper combo in the Street Fighter vs Capcom games) once a character's health drops below a certain point. Because rage is based upon how little life a character has remaining, it can be a very good way to make a comeback during a fight. Of course, should an opponent see it coming they might be able to block or evade it, rendering it and the spent rage useless. When they do hit, however, not only can they tip the fight into the player's favor (if not flat-out win it), they also are very cool to watch.
While many games tend to put much of the focus on multiplayer, Tekken 7 boasts plenty of single player content. Offline modes such as story mode, a cut-and-dry arcade mode, and treasure battle can keep players busy for hours and coming back for more.
The arcade mode is pretty much what one would expect with players taking on five opponents before the credits roll. There's a pretty good level of challenge and the two end battles can be rather formidable. Sadly, it's over much too quick. An extra stage or two before facing Heihachi and Kazumo Mishima would be nice.
Story mode continues from where Tekken 6 left off. Don't worry if you haven't played the previous game, though, as Tekken 7 does a pretty good job at bringing players up to speed with the plot. Story mode boasts some extremely good cutscenes and engaging story, but it's hampered by boss battles that are simply cheap and frustrating. And just like arcade mode, story mode is over much too soon.
After checking out the arcade and story modes, it's easy to tell that treasure battle is where the real action is. In the mode, players take on an unending surge of opponents until they've had enough. After each victory, players are awarded with a random piece of equipment that characters can equip. This equipment is completely for aesthetic purposes and have no influence on gameplay whatsoever, but being able to customize fighters with unlockables like this is just way too addictive.
Those looking for something beyond the single-player experience will be pleased to know that Tekken 7 does not disappoint with its multiplayer offerings. Whether online or local, competitive play is rock solid. For online play, not only is it easy to get in a quickie, but a prospective opponent's ranking and connection strength are both clearly shown before a bout is accepted. If you're not happy with what you see, you can easily decline the match.
Tekken 7 also offers online tournaments. Players can put together private competitions for as many as seven others. Winners get prizes like treasure chests and in-game cash.
It should be rather obvious looking at the trailers and images embedded in this review, but Tekken 7 looks amazing graphically. Powered by Unreal Engine 2, the game looks simply awesome. Stages are a visual delight and characters follow suit. The audio presentation, too, is right up there as the soundtrack and sound effects do well to further the game's presentation. What players end up with is a game that is as good to view as it is to play, and that's a winning combination.
Developed in-house at Bandai Namco Studios, Tekken 7 is a fighting game that delivers a solid one-two punch. Gameplay is terrific and the audio-visual experience is on point. Competitive play is well put together, as are the game's single-player modes. It's too bad, however, that the arcade and story modes are over so soon. Overall, though, Tekken 7 is solid.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.