Tekken 6 – The PS3 Attitude Review
The wait is finally over, Tekken 6 is here! With the biggest roster yet in fighting game this generation, crazy combos, refined gameplay, tons of customizations, new characters, and intensity like none other, Tekken 6 might just be the most fulfilling game in the series. There’s just one problem, the online mode was unplayable at release.
Does the newly improved online netcode put The King of Iron Fist Tournament back in its throne?
For those unfamiliar with the Tekken series, it is one of the first 3D based fighting games and it has been associated with every PlayStation system released so far. The gameplay in Tekken can be simple enough for a newbie to jump in and play, but mastery of Tekken is no easy task. Random button mashing will not get you very far, and if you’re against someone that even remotely knows how to play, you will be crushed.
The controls in the Tekken series are unique and intuitive. Each face button on the controller is tied to a limb. Square (1) is for left punches, triangle (2) is for right punches, X (3) is for left kicks, and Circle (4) is for right kicks. By doing a combination of button presses and directions, you will be able to pull off the moves of the game, provided that you do them correctly.
After starting up Tekken 6 and watching the beautiful CG intro, you will notice that the load times are atrocious. The first thing you are going to want to do is install the four gigs onto your PS3. Even then, the load times are still noticeable, although they are nowhere near as bad as before. When playing with friends, ghosts, or online, the loading isn’t really too bothersome. The game does insists on auto-saving all the time though, which can easily irritate someone just navigating menus.
The menu system is a bit different than what a Tekken fan will be used to, but that’s not a bad thing. You are able to choose a character to display and a stage for your character to stand in, and this will be viewable at all times in the main menu. It’s a completely pointless feature that just makes everything stand out in a neat way.
The main menu is completely cluttered with information. On the top left side of the screen is where all the gameplay modes are located at. On the right side of the screen is your PSN ID, the amount of matches played, a portrait of your main character and rank amongst other rank related information. The menu system isn’t as clean as previous games, and there is a lot of navigating to be done just for simple tasks.
The standard modes of Tekken are still around. Arcade Battle, Online, Ghost Battle, Team Battle, VS Battle, Practice, Survival, and Time Attack are now joined by a new mode for Tekken 6 called Scenario Campaign. It’s clear that Namco wanted to make this the star feature of the game, but it hardly is, and it’s best to be viewed as an extra. All the modes have stats that are tracked online, which is a nice feature for those that like to see how they hold up against the world.
In the Scenario Campaign mode, the main story of Tekken 6 is told from the perspective of Lars with his AI sidekick Alisa. You can actually switch Lars to any character as long as you unlocked them. In order to unlock a character you have to beat their level in the campaign. When using a different character, they will actually react to other characters that they have a personal storyline with. It’s a nice addition, but there is a bit of a disconnect because Lars will be in all the main story scenes. At the moment, Scenario Campaign is strictly an single player offline experience. Namco plans on updating the game sometime in the winter to allow for cooperative online play [As of Jan 18 an update enabled online co-op. Read our impressions].
Once you unlock a new character in Scenario Campaign you can use them in the Arena. The Arena is a series of four battles which will unlock the prologue and ending movies of the character you’re playing as. That’s right, you can no longer unlock endings in the normal Arcade mode, although endings will randomly unlock as you play the game anyway. Considering how Namco was very proud to mention that there will be no character unlocks in Tekken 6, that actually only applies to all modes except for Scenario Campaign.
The campaign mode is seemingly never ending, and consists of beat ’em up action utilizing the mechanics of Tekken 6. In reality, the campaign is around six hours long and each character has their own dedicated level to play through. The main issue with the Scenario Campaign mode is the camera, since there is no way to actually manipulate it yourself. The controls also take some time getting used to. When near enemies, the game locks you into Tekken 6 gameplay, so it’s not possible to freely run around at that point. In order to actually do moves with your character, using the d-pad is required. This actually isn’t an issue, the problem is that you may find yourself switching between the d-pad and left analog stick so you can move around easier throughout the levels. Since the movement in 3D, it’s a bit weird to use the d-pad to run around, but you’re more than welcomed to do so.
The story in Tekken 6 will annoy fans of the series. Many characters that were important in the previous games are just simply not used to their potential. Asuka’s ending in Tekken 5 built her up to be an extremely important character that could have had a huge influence on Jin, but Namco gave us nothing this time. This trend continues for many characters, and it’s hard not to be disappointed since we have to wait so many years just to see 30 seconds of sigh inducing footage.
Seeing as the storyline and campaign mode are all but a fraction of what people are playing Tekken 6 for, these slight disappointments are easy to overlook. The main attraction is obviously the versus gameplay, and that will undoubtedly please fans of the genre. The hard hitting intense gameplay is better than ever and with 40 characters at your disposal, there is just so much to learn and experience.
One of the great things about Tekken is how there are practically no clone characters, with exception to Christie and Eddy. Some characters may share a few similar moves, but that’s it. Even the Mishima’s play very differently from one another, and it’s this uniqueness that makes Tekken 6 stand out against other fighting games, especially considering its huge roster. Balance also isn’t much of an issue, and you will find yourself able to have competitive matches with any character you choose.
Tekken 6 features six new characters: Bob, Zafina, Leo, Lars, Alisa, and Miguel. If you haven’t played Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection on the PSP or PS3, then Lili, Dragunov and Armor King II will also be new to you. Not only are these completely new characters to learn, but the cast from previous games have been updated as well. You may find yourself attempting to do moves that just may not exist anymore, and you may be pleasantly surprised to find new techniques that will greatly improve your strategies. All of these aspects will keep Tekken 6 fresh for even the most hardcore fan as there is much to learn and relearn.
Tekken 6 also features a new mechanic called “rage”. Once your life bar is at 5%, rage is enabled and you will do more damage to your opponent. At first it sounds like this would cheapen fights, but rage makes for some of the most intense matches ever in a fighting game. The health required to go into rage is at the point where it isn’t even a tactic that can always be relied on. There are countless fights where you will just be beat down and never get to use the extra damage. As always, the result will depend on how good you an your opponent are. It’s possible to make a dramatic comeback when in rage, but it’s also possible that it won’t help at all. There is a nice balance to it, and having rage absolutely makes each battle more interesting.
Another new mechanic to Tekken 6 is the bound system. Tekken is a heavily juggle based fighter, and this makes juggles even longer. When an opponent is in the air and a bound move is done to them, they will be slammed down to the ground hard and bounce up, which will then allow you to continue on your juggle. The amount of hits that you can do after a bound is dependent on the moves you do and how many hits were done before the bound. Only one bound can be done during a combo and when you try to do it a second time, the juggle immediately breaks. Despite the longer time in the air, the amount of damage done actually seems to be lessened from previous Tekken games.
The stages in Tekken also have some new additions. There are now breakable walls and floors, and it’s almost as ridiculous as it sounds. The breakable floors are probably one of the most annoying aspects of Tekken 6 just due to the fact that it looks so poorly done and ruins the flow of a match. When a character is slammed through the floor, the opponent is put in a bound state so you can continue to do juggles. The variety to the levels are always nice, but there surely could have been a better way to make it happen. The breaking of walls adds for some powerful looking attacks, but the whole thing happens so fast that you don’t pay as much attention to it when compared to the magically breaking floor. Stages that have no walls or breakable floors still exist, so if you’re not a fan of certain mechanics, you can always choose to not play those in versus or online.
Long time fans of the series will notice that there are new animations, and they look really good. Low parries have a new animation, and KOing an opponent using certain attacks will also make them collapse in refreshing ways. The old falling down and holding your back still is around though, so there is still some familiarity there. Overall the changes made to moves are nice additions, and they are easy to find if you’re familiar with the previous games, as you will see that they have more of an impact than before.
Graphically, Tekken 6 has the best visuals in the series without a doubt. Seeing screenshots just won’t do the game justice, especially when the motion blur effect is turned on. While the motion blur can be a feast for the eyes, the game does become noticeably jagged as a result. There are a few options for the visuals, and messing around with them until you find the right setting for you is the best way to go about it. Display setting Type C and turning the motion blur off looks the best to me, but the blur is very enticing to always turn back on once in a while.
While the graphics are great, they suffer from not being as great as they could have been. The Tekken games have always been visual masterpieces, but this game doesn’t quite hit that mark, especially when it comes to the water. The water in Tekken 6 is just so disappointing and distracting to look at. The actual stages themselves have so much more action in the background in comparison to other games in the same genre or series. It does give the game a more livelier appearance, but it’s also distracting in certain levels (especially with sheep all over the place). Despite the slightly underwhelming visuals, Tekken 6 runs at a constant 60 frames per second, and the animations are extremely fluid. In motion, this is probably the best looking fighting game around.
The music in Tekken 6 is hit or miss. Some tracks sound incredibly action packed, and in those levels, you may find yourself stalling a bit just to hear your favorite part. There are some songs though that are just boring to listen to. The game does allow for custom soundtracks via the XMB, so you can put all your favorite Tekken tunes in an playlist to enjoy.
Tekken 6 utilizes many aspects of the PS3. Not only is there custom soundtrack support, but you can also take screenshots in-game by using the function through the XMB. Tekken 6 also supports PlayStation Home. There are numerous Home items to unlock as you progress through the game, and one of which is a Tekken 6 arcade machine to place in your apartment. Home also is giving away a free Kazuya costume, so be sure to pick that up if you haven’t yet. The gloves are missing, but they are unlockable through playing Tekken 6.
The online gameplay in Tekken 6 suffered tremendously when the game first came out. The lag was just too much to handle, even when playing against someone in close proximity. Somehow it was worse than Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection Online and Soul Calibur IV, and all three games fall under the same company. However, after a few weeks Namco fixed the netcode and we couldn’t be happier. Aside from Ghost Battles and Versus against humans, Online will be one of the most played modes by gamers. Since it actually works now, a lot of bitterness towards Namco regarding Tekken 6 is alleviated.
There are five bars to signify the connection of your opponent. One bar is the worst, while having five bars is the best. Since the patch, I have not had a one bar match yet, but I’ve had numerous two bar matches. These are typically battles that would make you cringe, but they are actually quite playable now. There is just no reason to play a single bar match anymore, so it’s best that you just don’t even test your luck with those.
The delay when playing online has been reduced so much that most people will not even notice it anymore, although there could actually be a few frames of delay. Three bar connections are highly playable now, and four bars can almost replicate the offline experience. Before the patch I had never once played a match with five bars, but that has since changed. It’s not as frequent as I would like, but these matches are practically perfect and I’ve personally never played a fighting game that did online so well besides BlazBlue.
When playing online you will be prompted with the connection of your opponent for 10 seconds, which will allow you to then decline or accept the match. The players name and rank will not appear, so there is no shady business to be done. With this ability you can make sure the matches you play are up to your standard and you can decline any bad connections. You would think that this would make finding matches online harder, but I haven’t had any encounters where I would get continuously declined if the connection was appropriate.
Having played the game pre-patch, I actually had to relearn my timing for juggles since they no longer worked because the delay that plagued online seems to be almost non-existent. Fans will be happy to know that old game of overwhelming your opponent online won’t work as well since you can actually defend yourself now and punish accordingly. There is no better feeling than actually ducking a high attack on command. Tekken 6 online is like a whole new experience now, and it’s no longer a sore spot of the game.
Unlike in Street Fighter IV, you can actually have quarter matches online in unranked lobbies that support up to four players. Tekken 6 also features the ability to upload a ghost of your character for friends or random online players to play against. You can test your skills against the number 1 ranked fighter online by downloading the ghost file, which will then appear randomly in the Ghost Battle mode. In addition to this, Tekken 6 also allows for the saving of replay for online and offline bouts. Sadly there is no way to rewind, forward, or even pause a replay (although you can press the PS button to stop the action).
For fans of the series, there are some notable omissions to the game. In practice mode, for instance, you can no longer hold a command and then scroll down to the next one without going through the training menu again. In Tekken 5: DRO, you were able to use the right analog stick to scroll down to the next move, and it made life so much easier. Why this was removed makes no sense.
When playing online as Mokujin, you will lose the ability to randomly change to another fighting style after a round is done. This makes Mokujin more like Combot from Tekken 4, and it really ruins the point of the character. When playing offline, Mokujin plays exactly like how he (it?) should, so it’s a weird choice by Namco to remove a staple function of the character in only one mode. Mokujin can now switch fighting styles due to an update released on Jan 18.
While some of these omissions may seem small, they really are annoyances that just shouldn’t even exist in the first place. For some reason, a second player offline cannot have any character customizations. Considering how LittleBigPlanet allows for one to load up the save files from any profile on a PS3 for up to 3 other players, it’s odd that Tekken 6 doesn’t do anything similarly. It doesn’t even allow you to load up a customization set by player 1 if you’re player 2. Also, why can’t a second player configure their controls in the options menu?
For whatever reason, the name of the mode you’re playing is displayed on the bottom of the screen. It just adds pointless clutter to the screen and there is no way to turn it off. It also would have been nice if we could customize the display in general, but that ability is also non-existent. When playing on an HDTV there is much space above the health bars and it would have been nice if we could move the bars higher up on the screen.
In terms of customizations, there are many different ways to dress up your favorite fighter this time around, and it’s a lot more user friendly as well. Using the in-game money system, new items and clothing can be bought. Unlike Tekken 5: DRO for the PS3, you can actually see the items that you are purchasing now and try them on before you buy anything. However, everything is overly expensive, and you can’t try out the items without having enough money. This is when the Scenario Campaign becomes a must play mode since it’s easily the best way to obtain loads of fight money.
Throughout the Campaign you can unlock new items for free and they come packed in with special abilities. Some of these abilities will allow you to have more health, have more attack power, and there are some that even add elemental properties like lightning to your attacks. By equipping the best items in the Campaign mode, you will soon see that your character is going to look utterly ridiculous since the best pieces will be random items and not sets of costumes that would make any sense. These special abilities only work in the Campaign mode as well, so don’t expect to have any advantages in versus battle. After beating Scenario Campaign, it’s actually a lot more fun now just playing certain levels again with the purpose of gaining items and money.
The customizations do bring a new gimmick to the gameplay outside of the campaign. Characters in versus mode can do a special attack with certain items. Xiaoyu, for instance, has a wand to attack with, but it’s practically useless. In fact, most of these special items are useless and are just for laughs and shouldn’t be taken seriously. I have yet to fight an opponent online that has even used one against me. It’s just a pointless gimmick, but it’s interesting to see the attacks at least once.
So what’s the verdict?
Tekken 6 is easily the best Tekken out now. As a long time fan of the series, it’s incredibly easy to just nitpick and rip apart every little aspect of the game. Regardless, there is just so much done right in Tekken 6, and that’s because the core gameplay is at its best. Tekken 6 isn’t a groundbreaking new release, but the optimizations make this game a very worthy sequel.
For fans of the series, this is a must have game without a doubt. Even for the casual gamer there is still much fun to be had in Tekken. The online play is actually something to look forward to now, and countless hours can be spent playing it, all while having an enjoyable experience at the same time. Fans of the genre itself should not miss out on one of the best fighting games available on the PS3.