Tekken has a history of incredible games. Unfortunately, that streak has come to an end with Tekken 7.
Before I start getting into the details of why the new Tekken game has left me so very disappointed, I want to make some things really clear. When it comes to fighting games, the Tekken franchise has no peer. It is head and shoulders above any other one-on-one combat game, and I’ve spent a good chunk of my gaming life trying to master the insane amount of depth each character has, whilst battling out with mates for hours, often deep into the night.
I fucking love Tekken! I swear by these games! Some of the greatest moments of my life (I should probably apologise to my wife here) have been those super tight victories over friends that finished with my jumping into the air and literally roaring.
I first fell in love with the series all the way back in 1994 when Tekken 1 was released in the arcades and I’ve been dragon-punching people with Paul for over 20 years. Each iteration of the game has only improved upon the original mechanics and, as technology has improved, so has the feel, look and sound of this smashing series. As far as arcade games, it’s pretty much been perfect.
With the advent of the home video game system, a little bit more has been asked of traditional fighting games. It isn’t just about the brilliance of the fundamental mechanics, but about all the extras that are now possible. Now we have things to think about like the one-player experience, character customisation and different ways of playing multiplayer. And this is where the Tekken series has been a bit more hit and miss.
Tekken 3, often considered the pinnacle of the series and one of the greatest video games of all time, featured a number of innovative and ‘interesting’ game modes that set the standard for what we could (and probably should) expect from a Tekken game on a home console.
Aside from the standard Arcade and Versus modes, we had Survival mode, Time Attack mode, Tekken Force mode, the first attempt at a one player experience, and Tekken ball, which was kind of like volleyball except that you use the ball to hurt people….a bit odd, but hey, at least they tried something right??
The biggest innovation in the series came right afterwards with the release of Tekken Tag Tournament. Instead of just one-on-one fights, it now became a two-on-two tag team, which meant that up to four people could play at once.
This version of the game was incredibly popular with fans, which led to Namco coming up with the brilliant idea of keeping it out of future Tekken games until the more recent Tekken Tag Tournament 2. A great way to make money but, honestly, a bit of a ‘F YOU’ to fans.
So how does Tekken 7 compare to the game’s previous iterations?
Which brings us to the long awaited release of Tekken 7. This game has been in the arcades for some time now, so we know what to expect when it comes to its fundamentals. It’s fucking brilliant.
The controls have never been tighter, the move lists have never been longer. It’s far more accessible to newer players, with the new Rage Art, allowing players to execute a critical attack when their health is almost depleted, giving them a great chance at a dramatic comeback.
The graphics are amazing, the soundtracks are pumping and the new characters give you plenty of new and exciting moves and ways of fighting to keep you invested in learning them for hours. The game has never felt as good or been as much fun to play.
The only problem is, well, when it come to game modes, the selection is frankly, fucking terrible. Possibly the worst ever released as part of a Tekken game.
So what does Tekken 7 include and what’s wrong with it? Well, where to begin…
Let’s start with the story mode. We were promised that Tekken 7 would be the final instalment of the ‘Mishima’ family saga, which has basically been the central storyline for all the Tekken games so far.
What we get is the usual convoluted, nonsensical story narrated by some weird journalist who we’ve never heard of, which would be all fine and good except that we don’t get any sort of ending or resolution!
There are some interesting fill-ins about the history of the family and more details about some iconic moments that we’re familiar with, but very little new information going forward.
The main thing to know is that Heihachi’s wife, Kazumi, the new boss of the game, orders Akuma to find and murder her husband and her son, Kazuya. We never learn why she does this or even why we’ve never heard from her before, and that’s about it, because there’s no follow up with her at all.
There’s some dramatic battles between Heihachi, Kazuya and Akuma, and someone dies but maybe doesn’t a few times and who knows? Don’t try and make sense of it.
Most importantly, the actual levels are just basic one-on-one fights that are fairly repetitive and the whole thing can be beaten in an hour or two.
Along with some single fights and brief cut scenes for every other character in the game, that’s all the story you get. It makes you wonder why they bothered with any story mode at all.
When you’re done with the brief confusing story mode, you can have a crack at arcade mode, which has no character endings or unlocks anything and is good for all of about five minutes. Or have a go at Treasure mode, which is entirely centred around unlocking customisable gear for your characters.
There’s actually a huge amount of customisable items to dress your characters up in, so if that’s your thing, this Tekken will probably please you. Then, when you have a go at online play, you won’t be so disappointed by the choppy connections because at least you looked good right?
When you want to play some multiplayer with your mates, you’ve got the basic Versus mode and…..that’s it. No other way you can play multiplayer.
It shits me to bits that they won’t include the Tag mode in the normal Tekken games. Without it, it’s hard to mount any sort of argument about why you should buy this game if you already have Tekken Tag Tournament 2. If I meet up with a bunch of mates for a wild night of gaming, I know which Tekken is making its way to my PS4.
With no unlockable characters and no decent practice mode, I’ve found it very hard to keep Tekken 7 in my console for very long without being bored or just running out of things to do. It’s a damn shame, because the gameplay is so damn good.
Did I mention there’s a VR mode in the game? No, I didn’t, because it’s completely pointless and the less said, the better.
We’re just going to have to wait for better until the next Tekken game comes out, which I’m sure we’re all hoping is another Tag Tournament game.