The new entry in the Tekken franchise – Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (TTT2), feels a bit too familiar, sticking closely to the core Tekken experience. But is that a boon or a letdown? Depends on who is asking.
The non-canonical addition to the Tekken storyline, TTT2 takes place at a strange time after the events of Tekken 6, when Heihachi somehow still sports a youthful appearance. The story is no reason to pick up the new Tekken title, but Just about everything else is. Featuring a mammoth roster of 49 characters (plus an additional 10 DLC ones already announced) from all versions of the Tekken universe and unlocked from the get-go, TTT2 has the biggest line-up of any fighting game till date.
The gameplay feels mostly unchanged from Tekken 6, having the same launches and juggles, which can drain one’s health bar in a jiffy. The tag team mechanics are a welcome addition though, but most of them, such as the extended tag combos, play very similar to those of the original Tekken Tag Tournament. The new techniques – Tag Throws and Tag Assaults (the latter involves both fighters on stage performing combos at the same time), do little to add a new layer to the gameplay, as is also the case with the more destructible environments.
So TTT2 eventually boils down to the audience it caters to. Those looking for innovation in the fighting game genre and that of the Tekken franchise in particular will be disappointed. However, a true Tekken fighting fan with some level of skill will appreciate the game’s finesse. Truly, this is the best Tekken game yet, with all the subtle refinements to the characters and the tag mechanics working wonders. The character roster balance is commendable, as is the uniqueness in the movesets of each of the 50+ characters. Indeed, learning the combos well and pairing fighters to create an ultimate team requires a great amount of time, effort and patience.
Those willing to stick to the offline modes will have to satisfy themselves with the Arcade Mode with a cheap boss fight; Ghost Mode and Survival, which both offer endless array of matches; a Practice Mode to hone one’s skills; Time Attack; and the unique Fight Lab. The bizarre and downright hilarious Fight Lab mode consists of the mad scientist Violet coaching his robotic creation Combot through various missions with intermittent boss fights to serves as a great starting point in teaching the game mechanics to the player. The Combot fights ninjas in school playgrounds with exploding balloons scattered around and is stepped on by gigantic versions of Tekken fighters, all while unlocking various characters’ moves to its arsenal, which can then be used in the Arcade mode. Offline multiplayer can also be enjoyed in the Versus Mode and the fairly fun Pair Play Mode, which allows up to four players to engage simultaneously in tag teams of two.
Unfortunately, gone are the good old days of unlocking Tekken Bowl and Tekken Force mini-games. TTT2 includes zilch to unlock, and the only option for spending the currency points earned throughout the various modes is for buying various add-ons for the fighters. However, everything from new hair-styles and clothes to weapons can be unlocked, adding great depth to the visual customisation system and making it comparable to that of Soul Calibur V.
TTT2 also introduces the World Tekken Federation, a global community leaderboard of sorts that tracks every aspect of the player’s fighting style, both offline and online, similar to the premium services offered by some FPS titles. Do note that the online modes with ranked and unranked matches need an online pass, which ships with new copies of the game. Thankfully, the future DLC characters will be free, something Capcom could take a cue from.
The visuals of TTT2 are gorgeous. Using a modified version of the Tekken 6 engine, the game enables up to four fighters on the screen seamlessly. Backgrounds feel alive with swaying flowers, truly destructible walls and collapsing floors, and the fighters themselves have brilliant hair and cloth physics, making the graphics truly pop. The ending movies are beautifully rendered in multiple art styles and are long enough to provide a decent level of satisfaction on beating the abnormally difficult end boss in the Arcade Mode. Also, the foot-tapping techno music adds to the overall immersive experience.
With its “why change what isn’t broken” approach, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 does very little to bring about any innovation to the legendary franchise. As a result, beginners to the fighting genre or to the Tekken franchise will probably have a tedious journey ahead of them before reaching a point where they can truly appreciate the game. However, Tekken lovers will witness and enjoy TTT2 for what it truly is – the best Tekken game till date.