Review | Tekken 6
Format: Xbox360/PS3 | Genre: Fighting | Publisher: Namco Bandai | Developer: Namco Bandai | Release date: 30/10/09 | RRP: £49.99
By Daniel Lipscombe
The Tekken series has had a rough time over the last few years.
Issues with the franchise have been simple ones, and the main one has to be its reluctance to change. Only really standing by the classic arcade mode, stopping mid-series to squeeze in a Streets of Rage-style mode called Tekken Force, there has rarely been a gamble – and when there has been, it hasn’t always panned out. Tekken 6 is an attempt to stand tall with the biggest contender of them all, Street Fighter 4. With Tekken previously being one of the strongest fighting games on the market, can it still hold its own?
The answer is… kind of. As a fighting game, in arcade mode Tekken 6 is as good as ever. When simply picking your favourite fighter and taking on a series of opponents, the series hasn’t really changed. The options are still the same – changing the amount of rounds, difficulty and so on. However, whereas that would have been the core of previous iterations, this time round the arcade mode feels tacked on, as if it was a mere afterthought – so much so that even the graphics are sub-par compared to the rest of the game. Instead, Tekken 6’s “real” game lies in the scenario campaign.
The scenario mode is basically a step backwards to Tekken Force again, but this time a little more involving. Or, you might say, dragged out. The mode is very simple: you move through each level in a manner akin to Double Dragon, defeating fighters, picking up health and power-ups and eventually fighting a boss character.
//Style over substance
The issues with this mode start with the intro. Namco seem to have leant how to construct their cinematic scenes from Hideo Kojima, but haven’t learnt to master his substance. It’s all well and good having a long cut-scene, but when it tells very little story, there is a want to skip subsequent cinematics. These tiresome cut-scenes aren’t overly interesting, and the story itself is as contrived as any other in the franchise. In fact, every inch of Tekken 6 feels ludicrous, even for a fighting game. As evidence, look no further than the ability to pick up and use mini-guns and flamethrowers while fighting.
But the issues don’t end there. There are problems with the camera, which doesn’t always point in the direction you want; the levels are linear and basic, usually involving just one road with a few corners; and worst of all are the fighting controls themselves. Although there is a button to lock on to a specific enemy in a group, you often find yourself still kicking and punching to the side of them. Even the simplest of actions – breaking open a box for an item – is difficult, as you spend so much time moving into the right position to kick it open.
Playing through this mode does eventually take you to the best part of the game, an arena in the scenario mode. In this arena you can use any characters you unlock from the scenario chapters and experience old-school Tekken. Choose a fighter, read some charming intro scene dialogue that features truly wonderful anime artwork, and once you’ve defeated your opponents, you can enjoy a terrific ending cut-scene. This, to me, is what the genre is about: fighting for what your character believes in and living their story. It’s a great addition; it’s just unfortunate that you have to suffer through the chapters of the scenario to unlock the characters.
What’s most surprising about Tekken 6 is how inaccessible it feels. The difficulty, even dropped down to easy, feels alarmingly steep. Playing in either the arcade mode or scenario mode is frustrating, particularly when you’ve played so well for all of your rounds and then arrive at a boss that can only really be described as cheap. This seems to be a problem in many fighters nowadays, but when a game breaks your spirit after such hard work, it leaves you wondering if it’s worth it.
The disappointment that Tekken 6 provides is carried through to the online play, which suffers from so much lag it’s barely playable. As it would be in any fighting game, this is a real shame, as this is where you would likely spend time with friends, proving your worth.
Although this version of Tekken has a great number of fighters, is visually stunning in places and holds onto the mechanics it’s famous for, there are so many issues that outweigh these triumphs. The scenario mode feels forced and is a slog to play through, despite holding the true gem of the game inside it. The difficulty spikes are depressing and rob you of your will to play. It’s a shame that Tekken 6 didn’t venture back to its roots in classic fighting, as that’s where its strengths always did lie.