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Tekken 7 Review

by | @AttackFanboy | on May 31, 2017

Tekken 7 has been out for over two years now — Japanese arcades have had the game since 2015 and they’ve even had a second iteration on the game with Tekken 7: Fated Retribution which launched about a year ago.  Bandai Namco is finally ready for a worldwide release of their flagship fighter, and while the finished product that’s coming to Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4 has all the features of Fated Retribution, it’s dropped the name entirely.  The ninth installment of the Tekken series across over twenty years, Tekken 7 on consoles will definitely be enjoyed by franchise faithful, as it’s been quite a while since we saw the last release in the series. Tekken 7 is a great arcade fighter, but on consoles it’s beginning to show its age and determination in clinging to those roots.

That’s not to say that nothing has changed in this installment of Tekken.  On the gameplay front, Tekken 7 is quite different than its predecessors.  A number of new mechanics like Rage Art and Power Crush are new additions that tweak the classic gameplay.  There have been a few new characters added to the roster, and the story does answer some burning questions for fans of Tekken lore, but when compared to recent releases in the fighting genre on consoles it feels a little short on content and on quality.  That said, on the PlayStation 4 Pro Tekken 7 does look sharp in motion.  The visuals and effects are the best we’ve ever seen in THIS series, even if some of the stills and cinematics don’t quite feel state of the industry.  On the whole Tekken 7 feels inconsistent at times in its presentation, when transitioning between fighting, cinematics, and storyboards.  Tekken 7 can look absolutely jaw dropping at times, and a step behind the competition at others.

Tekken 7 Video Review

Tekken 7 is the conclusion of the Mishima Clan saga.  Fans can expect that there will finally be some closure brought to the battle between Heihachi and Kazuya.  The Story mode is somewhat patch-work, however.  The Mishima Clan saga features some of the characters from the game, while others that are not directly related to this story have been relegated to what is the equivalent of side missions. The main story is told through the eyes of a reporter looking to seek out truth and vengeance for the destruction of his family by Jin Kazama. The story mostly follows the path of Heihachi and why he cast out his son at an early age and murdered his wife.  This is done through some animated stills, some cutscenes, and of course, fighting sequences.  Players will encounter both character on character battles, as well as face survival stages where they’ll fight soldiers and robots.  The Mishima Saga side of the story mode in Tekken 7 is decent, with the payoff being some real closure to a long-running affair.  It’s darker than what you might expect from Tekken or have seen from the series in the past.  The side content, or the character missions that are played within the story mode also have a little bit of story attached to them as well, though they’re only tangentially related to the main course and are much lighter in terms of tone.

Street Fighter fans will certainly take interest in Tekken 7 with the inclusion of Akuma.  It’s a weird spot where Japanese culture, Street Fighter and Tekken collide.  The themes of Tekken 7 touch on the demons inside the Mishimas and the origins of them.  Akuma slides in to this story in a weirdly appropriate spot and you’ll see him multiple times throughout the campaign.  While this information is widely available on the internet as to why Akuma is in Tekken 7, we’re not going to go into spoiler territory here.  All we’ll say is that his inclusion in the game is handled well from both a story and gameplay perspective.  He’s actually a fun character to play with as he combines his moveset from Street Fighter alongside plenty of new moves that are wholly original and specifically designed for Tekken-style combat.

Where other fighting games have shaken their arcade roots, Tekken still feels very much grounded in them.  Seeing as this game did arrive in arcades some time ago, it’s pretty clear why it feels the way that it does on consoles.  Unfortunately, arcade style fighters that offer little more than just bare bones battles don’t carry the same weight that they once did as the genre has been evolving in recent years.  We can point directly at developers like NetherRealm Studios for recognizing the value added and offering a little more with fighting games than just the barebones options and modes of the likes that we see in Tekken 7.  While the game does offer plenty of cosmetic customization for your characters, a currency system for progression and some customization for your online profile, there’s little else to do in Tekken 7 once you’ve seen the story to its conclusion other than play online or offline in versus matches or tournaments.

If you’re OK with that, Tekken 7’s another fine entry in the series.  The classic Tekken 3D combat still feels great, and there is plenty here to wrap your head around in terms of strategy.  Tekken has always had a distinct style to it that has trended away from its competitors.  Players use buttons that correspond to the limbs of their character, instead of ones that correspond to power of attack.  Combining that with a system of blocks, throws, parrys, and dodging elements, Tekken has always been a lot of fun to play and master. This is still very much intact with Tekken 7, and the new additions thrown into the mix feel like they mesh well with the traditional elements that make a Tekken game.  Rage Mode introduces incredibly powerful attacks that can be activated when your health is critical.  This can swing the tide of battle at the very last moment, keeping things tense until the final smidgeon of health is taken from your enemy.  While Power Crush is an interesting mechanic that allows players to continue attacking while being hit.  The latter is the more complicated of the two new additions to the game and will likely be the more difficult to master.

Instead of bringing the franchise forward, Tekken seems to be content with basking in the glory of its past.  Yes, it’s a long-running franchise.  Yes, this series has a ton of fans.  Just about anyone that has played fighting games over the past twenty years will certainly have crossed paths with a Tekken game at some point.  Instead of engaging players with more gameplay options, most of the game’s menus are littered with unlockables that don’t really add much to the game.  You can purchase videos from previous games in the series, you can play Tekken 7 using the background music from previous games in the series, and you can purchase cosmetic items that are in many cases absolutely ridiculous.  Tekken does have a single player Treasure battle mode to earn currency for unlocking these things and unlocking items from different tier chests, but other than that, the game doesn’t really seem to care about giving the player any real sense of progression other than the mastery of learning the many complex moves of the game and displaying your skills online or locally.

Outside of the aforementioned single player story and treasure battle, your versus options are pretty limited offline.  You can play versus battles, that is all. Online it’s only slightly better.  You’ve got ranked and player matches, with the ability to either drop into matchmaking or search for people who are already waiting to play.  You can also create single or double elimination tournaments with matches that can be played simultaneously or not.  The actual play options are pretty limited here.  It’s not very far off of what you’ve probably come to expect from Tekken as a series, but in the time between the last iteration to hit consoles and now, we’d like to see more options to keep players coming back for more.

Tekken 7 is surely another solid entry in the series when it comes to the actual fighting mechanics of the game.  It’s got a very unique rhythm to it that once you begin to learn features some of the most fluid fighting around.  The Mishima Saga is also a pretty incredible finale to this long running story.  It’s just a shame that Tekken 7 is so inconsistent.  For every fantastic looking spot in the game there are others which are not, for every high note that the campaign hits, there’s a low note just around the corner when you start taking a look at the options you have in front of you once you’ve finished.  It’s hard not to compare Tekken to other fighters having released so closely to a handful of big names.  In the past, Tekken may have arguably been the most anticipated of the bunch, but the sheer lack of content has it paling in comparison.

The Verdict

For better or worse Tekken 7 stays grounded to its arcade roots.  The console fighting game scene seems to have changed in the meantime.

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