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Tekken 7 review

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • May 31, 2017 at 9:37 a.m. PDT • Comments: 95

In the modern landscape of fighting games, excessive accessibility is a real concern amongst the competitive scene. Making a title that caters too largely to a casual crowd could lead to overly simplified mechanics, which would result in less depth and interest for hardcore players.


Though the opposite of this phenomenon is seldom seen in this day and age, it certainly exists, and it’s Tekken 7’s biggest flaw. A little over two years after its arcade release in Japan, Bandai Namco’s latest entry in their legendary fighting franchise has come to consoles, and though it’s bigger and badder than ever, it falls short in a handful of important areas.

Despite its age, Tekken 7 still looks great. The 3D fighting series has always provided highly detailed character models and gorgeous backdrops on which to do battle, and this installment keeps the tradition alive and well.

Matches have more of a cinematic feel to them due to the powerful Rage Arts – hard-hitting super moves that players can access when their health is low – and the slowdown that occurs when two attacks are set to land at nearly the same time and decide the match outcome.

These features make bouts even more epic and are a welcome addition to an already enjoyable experience. However, getting to a point where you can comfortably participate in said experience is a challenge.
Tekken 7 lacks any kind of tutorial or instructional course for newcomers. Though this might not present a problem for veteran competitors, someone like me who has played Tekken games in the past -- but definitely needed a refresher -- really could have used some guidance to hit the ground running.

The game’s story mode provides on-screen notation at the start showing that each face button is mapped to your character’s limbs. It also tells that Rage Arts can be initiated with R1 (on PS4), and… that’s about it. You’ll find helpful tips here and there during loading screens, but it’s really not enough to introduce players to the intricacies of the 3D fighting titan that is Tekken.

In a world dominated by 2D fighters, Tekken 7 really should have done more to bring new players into the 3D realm and make them want to stay. Unfortunately, we see a step in the opposite direction with Tekken 7’s “story assist.”

Instead of a crash course on the basics, the game’s main story arc gives players the option to use simple shortcuts to work their way through the game’s 14 chapters. Holding L1 and hitting any face button will execute an effective special move, eliminating any real need to do anything else. I found myself clearing most of story chapters on normal difficulty without ever using the joystick. It's a useful feature for those who just want to run through the story mode, but doesn't teach anything about the actual game.

Following the feud between Kazuya and Heihachi is interesting, and Tekken 7 shares an emotional backstory for Kazumi that had me hooked, but pacing issues and events occurring without much explanation kept me from ever really getting immersed in the story. The main arc focuses only on a handful of fighters, and the remainder of the cast gets their own side stories that are short, but sweet, and do a great job of bringing out each character’s personality. Watching Eliza, Tekken 7’s first DLC fighter who happens to be a narcoleptic vampire, struggle to stay awake whilst conversing with Lili was just too good.

Once you get past the thick barrier of entry, Tekken 7 becomes a world of possibilities. With an impressive 37 characters to choose from -- including Street Fighter guest character, Akuma – as well as hundreds of attacks and combo strings to learn, a deep and rich fighting game experience lies in wait for those willing to put the time in. And boy, is it fun as hell.

The 3D fighting foundation holds true to form, with extended juggle combos feeling better than they ever have before. Power Crush attacks – specific moves that come equipped with armor and blow through oncoming attacks – toss another layer of depth into an already satisfyingly complex fighter. Using Power Crush is a great way to keep button-heavy players in check, especially since these attacks can absorb multiple hits. Power Crush moves generally have slow start up and are punishable on block, though, so you’ll have to be careful with how you implement them into your gameplay.


Click image to view an Akuma sample combo

But if you’re down on your luck, don’t worry. Rage Arts are your ace in the hole when your life is low. Players can also opt to fire off a Rage Drive -- a unique special move that is only accessible during Rage – for a more strategic approach. These attacks differ from character to character and not only hit hard, but can be used to extend combos, apply pressure, and more.

Outside of the core gameplay, players can dive head first into the robust customization mode. By using in-game Fight Money to purchase special items for your favorite characters and player profile, you’ll be spending quite a lot of time gathering the best equipment and assembling the wackiest and most badass combinations you can drum up.


            "Oh, deer..."
Fortunately, acquiring currency in Tekken 7 isn’t difficult thanks to the Treasure Battle mode. Fighting your way through an endless stream of opponents nets you a consistent Fight Money income, and each battle rewards players with a treasure chest or two that contain more customization items.

One of Tekken 7’s best features (for those who own a PS4 copy) is its musical library. Players can choose from an extensive catalog of songs that spans across all main Tekken titles and set specific tracks to stages, menus, and more. This coupled with the huge gallery that contains legacy videos and art pieces from the entire Tekken series makes up the ultimate nostalgic package for long-time fans.

Editor’s note: A fair assessment of the game's online features could not be made due to the pre-launch conditions. I will be testing more thoroughly once the game is officially in the hands of the masses.

Closing thoughts: At its core, Tekken 7 is a fun, complex fighting title.; it’s a hardcore fighter for hardcore fans.

Unfortunately, newcomers will require some outside resources to get a handle on the battle system, but once they become acclimated will find a satisfying 3D fighter with a plethora of possibilities.

The main story mode features some truly epic and beautiful scenes, but the overall experience is bogged down by pacing issues and the story assist that takes the place of a basic tutorial.

Still, there’s much for fans of single and multiplayer content to enjoy. The King of the Iron Fist tournament is here to stay.

Pros:

+ Gameplay is deep, rich, and better than ever.

+ Characters and stages look fantastic, despite the game's age.

+ Customization mode is robust and gives players major incentive to unlock items.

+ Character side stories do a great job of breathing life into each fighter's personality.

+ Musical library feature (PS4) is amazing.

Cons:

- Lack of in-game tutorial mode makes it difficult for newcomers to get the ball rolling.

- Main story mode suffers from pacing issues.

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