The fighting genre was once a juggernaut of gaming, as consoles were only as good as their best looking fighter. These days have long since passed however, as fighters now occupy a niche corner of the market that only has room for established series like Virtua Fighter, Tekken, Soul Calibur, and Street Fighter. Mortal Kombat doesn’t count, as it only sells to teens looking to live out their power fantasies. We’ll just ignore Dead or Alive.
These long-standing series have had to consistently push the envelope and perfect their craft to prove that they deserve a place alongside their competitors, and that’s the big question circling Tekken 6: does it stack up against the other magnificent fighters on the market, managing to exceed the expectations set by its own fantastic predecessors? Yes, it absolutely does.
The King of Iron Fist Tournament has returned, and it’s better than ever before. Whereas Street Fighter IV was instantly fun but somewhat shallow in move selection and Virtua Fighter 5 required days of practice to become effective with just one character, Tekken 6 takes a different route, focusing on long combos, memorization and character mastery to find the median between these two disparate schools of thought. Each fighter is layered and take a while to really understand, but isn’t terribly deep. It counters this by having an absolutely massive playable roster, with 42 unique, fully-featured competitors in all.
All of them have their own specific fighting styles, move sets and character designs, and there isn’t a single fighter in here that doesn’t look absolutely gorgeous in high def. This is, without a doubt, the best looking fighter to date, as each character is lovingly rendered and everything from the flashy special effects to the lavishly detailed backgrounds all look wonderful. Tekken isn’t just about graphical quality though, as the series has always been known for its fantastic combat animation and fluidity. Tekken 6 continues this legacy masterfully, as it flows like no other fighter on the market. There are no choppy transitions between movements at all, with everything fitting together as perfectly as you would want.
On the gameplay front, everything plays like you would expect it to, as Tekken continues to be an amazingly solid fighter with almost no visible defects in the fighting engine. Those who have a pile of broken controllers in their closet will be pleased to know that Tekken 6 is one of the least frustrating fighters I’ve played in years thanks to the new “Rage” fighting system. This activates when a player’s health gets very low, increasing the damage that their moves deal out and giving about-to-be-beaten fighters a chance to make a comeback. On one hand, this system ensures that you’re never truly out of a fight, but it also brings a few annoyances along with it.
If, for example, Rage mode activates when a player reaches 10% life or lower, what happens in a fight when one character has 11% health and the other has 10%? The latter would get Rage mode while the former would not, allowing the Rage-enabled player to kill the other with one heavy blow. It’s certainly not a game-breaking issue since it’s a fairly rare occurrence, but it does happen, and can lead to some frustration when the scales tip towards one player after a close, hard-fought battle.
There are a few more negative spots on the game as well, but they don’t amount to much. The adventure mode that has always featured prominently in Tekken is back, and it isn’t any better than past modes have been. That said, it’s mildly entertaining at times, and can be ignored if one so desires. Lag has also been an issue online, not surprising as many other fighters have struggled with this. While it’s a shame that the online play can be so poor at times, the upcoming patch will hopefully ensure that the network problems are smoothed out and that the community is kept healthy.
With all things considered, Tekken 6 is easily one of the best fighting games in years. Whether you’re a fan of the genre or not, Tekken 6 deserves your attention. It’s just that good.
|Our Rating for Tekken 6|
Tekken 6 finds a perfect balance between accessibility and depth, with a huge roster and gorgeous visuals. One of the best fighting games in years.