Tekken Hybrid – The PS3 Attitude Review
Tekken Tag Tournament was one of the early highlights of the PS2 era, and it’s possibly the most fondly remembered of the series. Nevertheless, nostalgia has its way of clouding one’s judgement, and the question we should all be asking is: is there enough value in this Tekken Hybrid package —even with a Tekken Tag Tournament 2 demo and a schlocky animated movie included— to justify paying a decent price again for this 11 year-old title?
The good news is that the gameplay more than holds up. It’s still fast and supremely tight. It may lack the elegance and flash of later games, but it remains a dream to play as a pure fighting game. With our ageing memories it’s hard to tell, but we also suspect that the engine has never run this smoothly.
Time has been less kind, however, on its looks. The textures may be tidied, colours sharpened and some of those rough edges may have been smoothed out — it’s amazing what a bit of glasspaper can do for a pixel — but it’s still not enough to save it from looking unmistakingly last gen. Some of the character models look very blocky, particularly Kazuya — whose shoulders would be classified as lethal weapons in any self-respecting civilised society. It’s pleasant enough on the eye, but we doubt we’d be this forgiving if it was a new game.
More frustrating, though, is the lack of anything new. This is essentially the exact same Tekken Tag Tournament that was released all those years ago, but with polished visuals, trophy support and everything unlocked from the beginning — which suggests that even Namco doesn’t expect players to hang around for too long.
We obviously appreciate the inclusion of trophies, but an online component would have gone a long way to making the package more attractive, just as it did for Capcom’s re-release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
Nevertheless, it’s still at its best, as is the case with all fighting games, when it’s you with a mate or two in a room duelling. It also has all the classic singleplayer staples (arcade, survival, team battle, etc.), so it’s still enjoyable for lone wolves. Revisiting the Tekken Bowl minigame is also fun – it’s about as good a bowling minigame you’re going to play.
Tekken Tag Tournament isn’t just a nostalgia piece; there are other tag-style games available, but none that feels like Tekken Tag. The tag gameplay suits Tekken. It raises the tempo, jazzes up the gameplay and increases tactical options. It crucially doesn’t break the core game by using it as a gimmick. Tagging mostly gives players an opportunity to rest their wounded fighter, as opposed to being an excuse to perform a flashy but unbalancing move — although some of the tag moves are very tasty.
It’s frustrating that we haven’t had a sequel to date, despite its popularity, but thankfully Namco has finally bit the bullet and are forging ahead with Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and it will be arriving on our PS3s sometime in 2012. The other good news is that Tekken Hybrid contains a sneak peek of the game in the form of Tekken Tag Tournament Prologue.
We can’t say too much about it because it really is little more than a demo, so don’t expect a substantial game like Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. There are only four fighters, a few stages and the one arcade gameplay mode — in which you fight two fighters from the same pool of four for every round. At least a small selection of trophies is up for grabs to make it a bit more rewarding.
It’s still a good chance to sample the gameplay. The four playable fighters are Alisa Bosconovitch, an android teen with a penchant for losing its head; Ling Xiaoyu, a teenage school girl with outstanding agility; Devil Kazuya, a tough satanic fighter; Devil Jin, the equally satanic son of Kazuya. Both Jin and Kazuya fight as they always have, albeit a little slower these days, while Ling and Alisa are all about chaining quick combos. The latter two are easier to use and more satisfying for beginners.
Our main worry for Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is that it will overplay the tag gameplay and unbalance the fighting. Thankfully, despite clearly having more tag options available and making those easier to pull off, they don’t appear to distract from the core gameplay. It still pleasingly feels true to the original Tekken Tag style.
For the visuals, Namco have gone for a brighter palette, more animé than cyberpunk. It looks fresh and rich in detail. It is also playable in 3D, but sadly we didn’t have one of those pricey sets on-hand to test it out. We can at least say that the 2D looks fantastic. Our experience with Tekken Tag Tournament 2 may be brief, but it’s still substantial enough to leave us craving the finished product.
The third and final pillar in the Tekken Hybrid collection is the CGI film, Tekken: Blood Vengeance, which is also available in 3D.
The story revolves around the four playable fighters from demo, but it also has cameo appearances from numerous Tekken all-stars. The gist is: Nina Williams, under the orders of her boss Jin Kazama, sends Alisa Bosconovitch to spy on youngster Shin Kamiya. At the same time, Anna Williams, under the orders of her boss Kazuya Mishima, sends Ling Xiaoyu to also spy on Shin. Things then naturally get out of hand and everyone starts fighting.
The story is complete fan service, which will appeal to just about no one but the most hardcore Tekken fans — and the poor voice acting and wobbly story don’t help much either. It will still be a welcome addition for those wishing to delve deeper into the Tekken mythology, but we are looking at a niche teenage audience.
While Tekken Hybrid promises three products for the price of one, you really need to question how much you really care about most of its components. One part is a glamorous demo, another is a niche film and the main component is an 11 year-old game that sits largely untouched.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re enjoying playing Tekken Tag Tournament as much as we did first time round, and we’re also delighted to have a sneak peek at its sequel. The question is how much are you willing to pay for it? It’s best to shop around for this one.
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