September 12, 2012
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 foregoes any real story, and it's easy to see why. After all, you've got almost every character to ever appear in a Tekken game all under one roof. The list of characters stretches from old classics like Wang, Paul and Kazuya, but also newer characters such as Lars Alexandersson and Alisa Bosconovitch. Overall, there are over 40 characters to choose - a number which could be intimidating to gamers who are new to the franchise. However, quite a lot have very distinct play-styles, so it shouldn't take too long to find something that suits you.
There are the stance-based fighters like Lei Wulong and Ling Xiaoyu, the grapplers like King and Craig Marduk, then the stand-up fighters like Paul Phoenix and Marshall Law. That's the great thing about Tekken's array of characters - there is so much history and so much depth, that almost every style of martial art is featured.
To help you on your way a bit, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 introduces the Fight Lab. It's a smart little mode, which has its own little story. To summarise, Violet is trying to create a fighting robot to defeat his rivals, but his own arrogance causes him to make a huge mistake - he destroys his perfect robot! All he has left, is an un-programmed combot which he has to train up to be a world beater - it's very reminiscent of a recent Hollywood film.
Most of the basics are covered in this mode, but it's most useful for going through the new gameplay mechanics introduced in Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Outside of the basic tagging mechanic, which is the entire basis for the game, you're now able to perform specific tag moves like tag throws and tag assaults. These help to change things up a bit and make the action a bit more fast paced.
Tag throws, as the name suggests, allows you to call in your team-mate for a throw. Tag assaults are slightly more difficult as they rely on the "bound" mechanic that was introduced during Tekken 6. This type of move allows you to slam an opponent into the ground, bouncing them up for a further combo opportunity. Juggling has become a staple of the Tekken franchise, so introducing this mechanic to the tagging system makes perfect sense. It also allows for far more interesting combo types. Of course, each character still has the traditional combos, but when introducing the bound attacks and also tags into the mix, things can get a lot deeper.
When you're on the receiving end of a beating, it can makes things rather frustrating. Sometimes half of your health can disappear before you've even done anything. But this is one thing that Tekken does right. Some might say that it makes the game too hard, but it's more so that the game rewards dedication. It's wrong to go into a fighting game expecting to become a master within 5 minutes, just as it's wrong to walk into a martial arts dojo expecting to kick the sensei's behind. If you want to get good at Tekken, you will need to pick a fighter that suits your style, but you will also need to spend time gaining experience. You'll need to know the move sets of other fighters, what combos they're likely to do and what you'll do to counteract this - it requires a lot of dedication and practice.
There are numerous modes through which you can learn your craft, both offline and online. One positive thing, is it feels like even the default difficulty has been spruced up. Your opponents know how to fight and if you aren't on your toes, you can still take a bit of a beating against a weak opponent. As you start to feel more confident, you can work up to challenging Ultra Hard opponents, or tackling the Survival Mode. Online is then a whole different ball game.
You can compete in ranked matches, but also friendly matches to help you gain some experience. Matches can also be recorded, so it's possible to look back at why you might have lost, or to study other people's play styles and learn.
Outside of the game's online arena, you're able to upgrade the Combot from Fight Lab. You can do this by performing better throughout the "story" mode, but also by spending cash. If you're new, this will help you learn whose move set might suit you.
One of the disappointing things here is that there aren't many fun, additional modes. It would have been nice to see Tekken Bowl make a return, or something of an equivalent nature, just to make the experience a bit less serious.
Graphically, the game feels like a small step-up from Tekken 6. There is obviously a ton of customisation available and almost everything you do in the game will give you some G. This can be used to buy character-specific items and even weapons. However, it's not exactly a new concept for the franchise. The stages are now more dynamic, with the ability to smash through floors and walls. This certainly adds an extra dimension to the combat, as well as the game's presentation.
After more than a decade away from the fighting scene, Tekken Tag Tournament makes a successful return. With new gameplay mechanics and a bustling roster, there's plenty to keep fight fans satisfied. The Fight Lab mode helps to introduce the new tag elements seamlessly and while some might say the game is too challenging, that's one of the elements that makes Tekken stand-out. If you're a fan of the franchise, this is a must-have and if you haven't checked out a Tekken game before, you could do much worse than starting here.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was reviewed on the PS3. You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.