“Despite a few minor shortcomings, this is the best Tekken to date.”
So it has taken me half a year to finally cave and review Tekken 6. This is odd considering I picked this game up on launch and that I like it very much. This may be a good thing however, as I am reviewing Tekken 6 after clocking dozens of hours in it.
First off, what is Tekken? It is a fighting game series by Namco that has enjoyed considerable success and is, without a doubt, the most respected 3D fighter. Tekken may not be able to garner as much respect as Street Fighter, but it isn’t far off.
The Tekken games all revolve around the King of Iron Fist Tournament and the Mishima family members behind it. Originally started by Heihachi Mishima, control over the tournament and the Mishima Zaibatsu (the “family business” of sorts) has bounced around between himself, his son Kazuya Mishima, and his grandson Jin Kazama throughout the course of the series.
In Tekken 6, it is Jin Kazama who controls the Mishima Zaibatsu and is the one behind the King of Iron Fist Tournament 6. Typically the one behind the tournament is usually a bad guy, and given how Jin was the series protagonist from Tekken 3 onward, some may be confused as to why Jin is hosting the tournament in Tekken 6. Jin has his reasons for doing so, and I won’t get into them since they are quite spoiler heavy.
To find out what’s going on with Jin, players will have to play through the Scenario Campaign mode. This is a beat ’em up sort of game mode and plays like a heavily upgraded Tekken Force. In Scenario Campaign, players will play through a few dozen stages, fighting notable Tekken characters at the end of each stage as bosses and uncovering more about the game’s story after beating each stage boss.
Scenario Campaign primarily follows the adventure of two new characters, Alisa Bosconovitch and Lars Alexandersson. The game will encourage the player to use Lars as their character, though once you beat a stage boss they will become playable in Scenario Campaign. Lars then becomes sort of “optional” for Scenario Campaign, but all cutscenes will still feature him as well as Alisa.
I found Scenario Campaign to be very tedious. It wasn’t overly difficult (except for the optional secret stages) and I never died too many times. What made Scenario Campaign tedious was the fact that, overall, it wasn’t really a lot of fun. It didn’t do anything very interesting and the gameplay was mediocre at best. Despite the fact that your character controls exactly as they do in the standard fighting game modes, camera issues and hordes of AI enemies will make pulling off certain moves difficult. The only incentive to playing through Scenario Campaign, besides uncovering the story, is item collecting. At random, fallen foes will drop treasure chests which contain items for character customization. Beating stages will also grant you bonus currency that you an use to unlock new items.
Scenario Campaign really throws a lot of these items and coins at you, making it the best way to unlock items. While you may receive nearly 200,000 coins for beating a two or three minute stage in Scenario Campaign, a fight of any length outside of this game mode will regularly only net you between 2000 and 5000 coins. This makes fighting, the main focus of the Tekken games, become an unviable way to unlock game content.
Speaking of the actual fighting, I think that I should move on and talk about that. Simply put, it’s great. Tekken 6 has the best fighting mechanics in the entire series. Juggles have become more lethal, health bars have been extended, and “rage” power-up has been introduced when players are almost defeated. The changes to the juggle system, as well as bouncing becoming more prominent, has led to many people criticizing Tekken 6 and saying that all players have to do to win is juggle the opponent, since they last longer and inflict more damage now. This is just nonsense spouted by people who took the game’s features out of context. You will so rarely have trouble avoiding being juggled or beaten senseless that it isn’t an issue. I’ve had a few rounds with friends that have been a little unexplainably one sided, but this happens so rarely that it just doesn’t impact the enjoyment that we get out of this game.
Before I forget, Tekken 6 introduces an impressive six new characters to the roster, bringing the total number of selectable characters in Tekken 6 to an amazing forty characters, a huge number for a fighting game.
The new characters are probably the best crew of newcomers since Tekken 3, which was notable for introducing Jin Kazama, Ling Xiaoyu, Hwoarang, and Eddy Gordo to the series. Tekken 6 does an equally impressive job with it’s cast of fighting misfits. Alisa, Bob, Lars, Leo, Miguel, and Zafina make up the cast of newcomers.
Alisa, mentioned earlier, is a cyborg creation made by Doctor Bosconvitch and created in the image of his daughter. Alisa is a very speedy character with several bizarre attacks which make her very unpredictable to fight against.
Bob is an overweight American who likes to fight. He is essentially a fat version of Paul in that regard, though he plays entirely different from his fellow countryman. Bob is surprisingly fast and graceful, and is sure to beat down players who underestimate him simply because of his appearance.
Lars is apparently the new poster boy for Tekken, acting as the main protagonist in this game. Lars is Heihachi’s illegitimate son who rebels against the Mishima family, intending to bring it down. He plays like a standard Mishima, but with much more flair.
Leo looks like a gender confused Rock Howard from King of Fighters. Leo is called both female and male ingame, so this can make things a little confusing. However, after using Leo once, you will be able to draw your own conclusions as to which gender this character is. Fortunately, Leo is quite beginner friendly and can kick quite a bit of ass.
Miguel is a Spanish brawler with no defined fighting style, instead opting to just beat his opponents until they can’t move any longer. Miguel is probably my favourite new character. He has a very badass look and his moves look just plain painful as he smashes opponents in really brutal ways. Stick with Miguel and learn his moves, and you will be rewarded greatly.
Zafina is weird. I could just leave it at that, but I’ll explain a little. Zafina is Tekken’s new sex appeal icon, quickly (and thankfully) demoting Lili who was introduced in Dark Resurrection. She is a Middle Eastern (or perhaps North African) assassin who fights using animal themed stances such as Mantis and Tarantula, as well as a third stance called Scarecrow. In these stances, particularly Tarantula, Zafina will bend her body in very peculiar ways and become incredibly unpredictable. I haven’t been so confused by a character since Eddy Gordo’s floppy introduction in Tekken 3.
So Tekken 6 is a great game, but what are it’s flaws? There are four, and I’m going to go over them.
Flaw #1. Character rankings work the same in Tekken 6 as they did in the previous game, meaning you will start at beginner before progressing through the kyu ranks until you hit 1st dan. Unlike Tekken 5, this is the highest rank you can reach offline. If you want to progress through the rest of the dan ranks and go even higher, you will have to play online.
Flaw #2. The second player cannot use custom costumes made in the character customization. In offline versus and team match, this can be a little annoying and, when player two selects and uses a default costumed character only to face off against player one’s Eddy Gordo with an afro and pink clothes, they just might feel a little left out. I count this as a very significant flaw because it only favours the first player and shows that Namco neglected putting much effort into local multiplayer, instead opting to make online fighting the main draw.
Flaw #3. The final boss, Azazel, is borderline ridiculous. I really enjoy difficult bosses, but only when they are legitimately difficult. Azazel’s abilities and tactics are questionable at best, and if you fight the beast without using boring and cheap tactics, then you’ll likely find yourself becoming frustrated.
Flaw #4. The graphics. Tekken 6 was originally released in arcades a whooping two years before seeing a console release. In this time span, Tekken 6 went from being a visually amazing fighter to, well, a mediocre looking one. To Tekken 6’s credit, the game does look great in motion due to the animations and stage lighting being absolutely fantastic, but the graphics are overall on the dated side.
These four flaws are actually fairly small. Character rankings really don’t even matter, the lack of 2P customization is nearly forgotten after extensive play sessions, Azazel is rarely fought, and the graphics never dip below average.
Overall, it’s an incredibly solid package and definitely my favourite fighter this generation. There’s lots to do and plenty of unlockables, and the fighting is so intense and rewarding that it never gets old. Tekken 6 is as good as the series gets, making other noteworthy entries in the franchise appear average. Tekken 6 is a Tekken like no other. If you have any interest in Tekken, then this game is a must purchase.