Release Date: 10/27/09
Tekken 6 is actually about the eighth version of the Tekken franchise to grace the console market, if one includes Tekken Tag Tournament and Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection, but that doesn’t make it any less welcome. Generally speaking, with the possible exception of Tekken 4 and its weird position change mechanics, the various games in the series have often been solid improvements over one another and are usually quite enjoyable, if you’re a fan of the franchise. Those who aren’t fans of the franchise could point out that there hasn’t been a lot of innovation to the games over the years, but for fans, that isn’t a major complaint. Why fix what isn’t broken, right? Well, Tekken 6 adheres to that concept as much as any of the games, as it still plays like you’d expect, which should allow fans to really jump into it without a problem. That said, there are some interesting changes and additions to the game that really make it worth checking out, even if you’re starting to tire of the series, so long as you can also handle the missteps the game makes along the way. This isn’t to say that Tekken 6 is a bad game, but some of the things done in the game are far better than others, and because of that, the game ends up being less impressive than it first seems to be.
The story this time around is a good bit more involved than it was in previous games. It appears that Jin Kazama was the ultimate winner of the previous King of Iron Fist tournament, and as such, he becomes the new leader of the Mishima Zaibatsu. His first act as the leader of the organization is apparently to declare war on the whole world, for no adequately explained reason (at least not at first). This in turn inspires his father, Kazuya Mishima, to rally the G Corporation, who fans of Tekken 4 and Tekken 5 will recall is the company that essentially brought Kazuya back from the dead, against Jin. Kazuya places a bounty on Jin’s head, which in turn inspires Jin to create a new King of Iron Fist tournament, which is exactly what Kazuya was hoping for. On the other side of things, a rebel organization run by a man named Lars Alexandersson finds a robot version of Doctor Bosconovitch’s daughter, Alisa, during a raid of one of his facilities. Lars ends up developing amnesia during the raid, and he and Alisa decide to travel a bit in hopes of jogging his memory, not realizing that they both will play a rather significant part in the events taking place. The various other tournament fighters all have their own personal motivations that compel them to take part in the tournament, of course, and each character has their own storyline and ending waiting to be seen and unlocked.
On one hand, the storyline in Tekken 6 is incredibly involved and, as you’ll see during your time in Scenario Mode (where you see all of the storyline elements), it generally fits together well enough. For a fighting game, the storyline in the game is one of the most robust and in-depth storylines written, and the various endings you can earn ON TOP of the Scenario Mode storyline are cool and generally give the game a rounded feel, story-wise. On the other hand, a lot of the character endings are joke endings that don’t really mean a lot and the plot of Scenario Mode ultimately leaves a lot of questions unanswered, presumably because there will be another sequel coming to answer those questions. It’s also kind of annoying that the hot new character introduced into the game, Lars, is really only a major character in the franchise because he’s ALSO a Mishima, as it would have been interesting to see a major character introduced into the series who WASN’T blood-related to something like half of the cast at this point. The ending is also kind of weird, frankly, as Lars goes from openly loathing Jin one moment to being worried about his well-being the next for no real reason, and ultimately there wasn’t any point to that. Oh, yes, and finally, can we PLEASE stop with the “evil demons of immense power trying to end the world”Â gimmicks we’ve been seeing for the past few games now? Couldn’t the final boss have just been Jin? Did we need there to be some sort of world-destroying entity involved in the mix? I understand that the whole plot hinges on the existence of this demon, but couldn’t we have done something ELSE with the plot instead? It’s getting old, guys. Anyway, the bottom line is that there’s a lot of depth to the storyline in Tekken 6, which is good, but the plot of the games in general is becoming a bit silly, which is not, so we’ll call it a wash.
In terms of gameplay modes, however, Tekken 6 rocks. You’ve got Scenario Mode, which is essentially a single-player beat-em-up mode, similar to the Devil Within mode from the prior games, which will take you a good few hours to complete. Inside Scenario Mode there’s also the Arena, which is where you’ll unlock all of your endings with whatever characters you defeat in Scenario Mode. There’s Arcade Mode, Versus Mode, Team Battle, Ghost Battle, Time Attack, Survival Mode and Practice Mode available in the offline play modes, as well as Ranked and Player matches for online play. The game also allows you to take any financial gains you earn in the various listed modes and invest them into customizing the various characters, allowing you to build different costumes for your favorite grapplers, and the amount of options available to customize characters with here is pretty large. In fairness, the Scenario Mode is the biggest and most impressive addition to the franchise, but the other modes will occupy your time long after you stop playing the Scenario Mode, as there’s a lot to see and do in the game, both online and off.
Visually, Tekken 6 is definitely impressive. The character models are attractive and well-animated, and combat flows together seamlessly overall. Older characters have been given an attractive visual update, and the new characters don’t seem out of place in the least. The environments are flashy and attractive, and break apart believably as battles take place, making the whole experience come together mostly seamlessly from start to finish. There’s still some clipping issues here and there, especially with custom costumes, and the various foes you’ll face in Scenario Mode aren’t as attractive and well designed as the characters themselves, although there’s a wide enough variety of them to counter-balance that. The game also isn’t as stunning as Soul Calibur 4 in the visual department, primarily because when Soul Calibur 4 came out it looked downright outstanding, while Tekken 6 really only looks a little better than that. It’s not that it looks bad by any means, but it’s just not as visually stunning as the advertising had led us to believe. Aurally, Tekken 6 impresses as much as any of its predecessors. The sound effects are crisp and convincing, and the shattering of an opponent is as aurally satisfying as it ever was. The soundtrack consists of rock-techno tunes with some swelling orchestral bits here and there, and this serves to make the game feel impressive and powerful. The voice acting in the game is odd, as essentially has the characters speak either in English or Japanese, depending on which is the more likely language for them to speak (or so I’m assuming), which is neat, but there’s no option I could find to have the dialogue be one or the other, which is kind of odd considering how Street Fighter IV allowed for this sort of thing. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just odd.
If you’ve somehow never played any of the Tekken games in your life, explaining the game is actually pretty simple. The battles you fight take place on a pseudo-3D plane. Pressing forward and backward on the D-pad moves your character in those directions, while holding up jumps and holding down ducks. Tapping up or down allows your character to step into the background or foreground, holding back allows you to block (which you’ll also do if you remain stationary), and double-tapping allows you to dash. Combat works with the four face buttons, and their placement and layout are relative to the arms and legs of the characters. In short: the buttons are mapped to the arms and legs of the character, with the top buttons acting as the left and right arm of the character, and the bottom buttons acting as the left and right legs, by default. Pressing both of the left or right side buttons initiates a grab against an opponent, and you can chain various different presses of these buttons, with or without directions, into combinations to destroy your opponents. This is basically how Tekken has worked for almost its entire existence, and this remains intact with Tekken 6, so fans of the franchise should be able to jump right into the game with little difficulty and know how things work. More serious players will be happy to know that many of the tactics from the prior games, such as jacking up opponents on walls, Ukemi and fall recovery actions and the Tekken standard ten-hit combos make their return in this game as well, to keep things interesting.
Tekken 6 does add a few interesting things into the mix, though. First off, when characters get low in health, they now enter a Rage mode, which allows the player to do additional damage per hit, which can allow them to turn the tide of battle if they’re lucky. There’s also the Bound system, which allows players to use moves on airborne enemies that smash them into the ground, allowing the player using the Bound attack to heap on the punishment with more combos or attacks. Parries and Reversals also have more of a role in this game than in prior games, as every character can parry low attacks and several characters have high and mid attack parries or reversals that allow them to change the flow of a battle instantly, if used with the proper timing. Not every character has these options, however, and they’re not easily abused as they require solid timing for most characters, making them more of a nice concession to Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive fans than an actual full-blown change to the gameplay mechanics of the franchise. These changes aren’t incredibly significant, but they do add some interesting depth to the game, and combining these additions with the balancing changes made to the various characters in the game and the whopping six new characters added this time around (eight if you missed Tekken 5: Dark Ressurection), there’s enough new in the game to make it interesting to serious fans of the prior games in the franchise.
Most of your time with the game, at least at first, will be spent in Scenario Mode, which is Tekken 6‘s version of the beat-em-up mini-game that has appeared in the various other console releases of the franchise in the past few years. Instead of simply progressing through various stages, you’ll move to different locations on the overworld map, which allows you to pick your pathways as you wish to unlock everything. The basic premise is the same as it ever was, of course: you play as a character, beat the crap out of everyone you see, and move on to the next stage. However, the way this is implemented in Scenario Mode is a good bit different from how it worked in prior games, and mostly works well. The game essentially plays like Tekken, or, to a lesser extent, Urban Reign, though you can move around freely with the analog stick, while the D-pad allows you to move around as if you were in a regular fight against an opponent. As you beat opponents and break obstacles, they can drop items of various sorts, which have different uses depending on the situation. Healing items, which are usually various types of chicken, replenish your life, while energy drinks can impart various elemental or statistical benefits on your character. Weapons can be used against opponents, and bags of money add to your cash total. The most interesting item drops, however, are the treasure chests, which contain items for your character to wear. Each item is ranked from G to S rank, and the higher-ranked the item, the better the effect it comes with. The pieces of equipment can improve the drop rate of items and cash from enemies, improve the value of items you find in the field, increase your attack and defense, add elemental boosts to your attacks, and other fun things, which turns Scenario Mode into something akin to a beat-em-up version of Diablo.
I cannot stress how awesome this is.
You can play through Scenario Mode with any characters you unlock while playing through the mode (the game allows you to unlock one character up-front and unlocks the rest as you play), as well as Lars and Alisa (the actual characters in the mode itself), and since any items you get ALSO count as items you can customize your character with, you can essentially build up their wardrobe just by clearing out Scenario Mode. There’s also a Hard difficulty to plow through once you complete the mode, as well as some hidden locations to fight through, to keep the mode interesting even after you beat it. That’s not all there is to the mode, however. For one thing, any money you earn in this mode, by clearing stages or selling useless items, can be used when customizing characters, meaning that unless you want to buy the most expensive upgrades imaginable, you can pretty much customize several characters with your winnings here, allowing you the chance to grind up tons of cash for upgrading purposes in a hurry if you just HAVE to own the wok bowl hat for Yoshimitsu. Further, any character you unlock in Scenario Mode is also unlocked in the Arena, which is the mode you now play through to unlock character endings, meaning that if you want to see all the endings you’ll have to unlock all the characters here… or wait them out, as the endings also unlock on a time delay. If you’re impatient, though, unlocking the characters in Scenario Mode and plowing through the Arena isn’t a bad way of unlocking things either, as Arena campaigns only consist of four fights, allowing you to plow through them easily enough… well, mostly.
Outside of Scenario Mode there’s still a ton of modes for you to play through. Arcade Mode is fairly standard, as it has you fight against multiple characters before facing off against NANCY in a bonus stage, Jin Kazama, and finally, demon lord Azazel. You also earn money and ranks in this mode, though no endings can be unlocked through this mode, oddly enough. Ghost Mode takes the place of the Arcade Battle mode from Tekken 5, allowing you to face off against CPU-controlled custom characters to improve your ranking and earn cash. Versus Mode, Survival Mode, Time Attack Mode and Practice Mode all act exactly as you would expect them to, and you can also play the game online in Player or Ranked matches. The online component also works off of the Ranking system that Ghost Mode uses, meaning you can improve your rank by fighting online, and in a nice touch, the game allows you to upload and download Ghost Data, meaning someone could potentially be fighting against you at any point in time. You’ll have plenty of reasons to come back to Tekken 6 if you like the franchise at all, as it’s pretty much the most robust of the games, and with the addition of online play and a bunch of neat trappings to go with it, there’s plenty to the game.
Which is not to say that the game is not flawless, as it’s unfortunately flawed in a few annoying ways. Now, there’s the obvious “it’s still Tekken“Â argument, so yes, if you don’t like Tekken you probably won’t like this much, except for maybe Scenario Mode. Fair enough. Beyond that, though, the biggest issue with the game is that the final boss, Azazel, is a humongous bastard, and you will never want to fight against him. Now, a while back, I reviewed Dead or Alive 4, and when describing the boss, Alpha-152, I believe I noted that I expected to see the word “Velveeta”Â stamped on her forehead because of how needlessly cheesy she was. Well, I never figured anyone would take that as a CHALLENGE, but here you are: Azazel is a walking endorsement for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, because wow, HE’S THE CHEESIEST. He hits for fairly unpleasant damage, is assumed by the game to be blocking at almost all times, has plenty of ways to break your guard, and due to his massive size and ability to block almost everything thrown at him, he cannot be fought like a regular character. You basically have to exploit AI weaknesses and spam moves to defeat him, which is about the worst possible kind of final boss: a boss who is beaten, not by the skill of the player, but by cheap tactics and inane repetition. Oddly, however, you pretty much never NEED to fight against him except in Scenario Mode (where he’s significantly more manageable). You can entirely ignore Arcade Mode because there’s no benefit to playing it that you wouldn’t get from playing Ghost Mode, and you can unlock endings by playing the game a lot, so Arena can safely be ignored as well. This is kind of bizarre, honestly; it was like Namco said “Well, we know our boss is horrible, so hey, good news! You can avoid him entirely!”Â, and while that’s arguably a solution, it’s not a particularly GOOD solution.
It’s also quite annoying that, as of this point, Scenario Mode is only a single player campaign, as the fact that two characters are incorporated into the mode pretty much at all times makes it seem like it would be a perfect two-player co-op mode. Namco has apparently announced that a patch will be forthcoming that makes the mode into a multiplayer mode online, but even then, the omission of this option from the start is depressing, as is the inference that the multiplayer will be confined to online only and will not allow for same console play. It’s also annoying that you have to change partners about ninety percent of the way through Scenario Mode. From a storyline perspective this makes perfect sense, but from a gameplay perspective, having to repeat the first mission you’re given something like eight times just to get some gear onto your new partner so they’re not completely useless is time consuming at best and frustrating at worst, especially considering that they could have simply re-written some of the ending scenes of the game to completely avoid this inevitability without making the whole thing immensely annoying. It’s also annoying that only the primary player can use their custom costumes in same console versus matches unless the other player makes their own profile, earns their own money and then customizes their own character. I have, at present, five million dollars and have customized all of the characters I intend to customize. If my friends want to customize a character or two, I don’t see why that should be impossible, as it is here. Your friends can’t even make up a profile on the console to track their wins/losses locally against you, as the game simply doesn’t support that; whatever Gamer Tag boots up the game is identified by name, and the second player is simply “Player 2″Â, whether they’re logged into a Gamer Tag or not.
Ultimately, Tekken 6 is one of the better fighting games to come out this year, as it’s a lot of fun as always, and incorporates a bunch of new stuff to make the game more interesting than ever, but it could have been better than it is with some minor tweaking. The story is interesting enough and deep, there are a ton of game play modes, and the visuals and audio are quite good. The game plays as well as it ever has, and thanks to the in-depth and enjoyable Scenario Mode and the wealth of online and offline gameplay options, fans of fighting games in general and Tekken specifically will find this to be a robust, full-featured game that will occupy them for a while. However, the final boss is a colossal pain to fight, and the game’s response of making it so you really don’t have to see him very much if you don’t want to isn’t really a suitable solution to that. Further, the lack of multiplayer in Scenario Mode, as well as the specific tailoring of multiplayer to online play over same console play, makes the game less fun for friends than it should be, unless these friends happen to prefer playing online to seeing one another. All of the major elements of the game are good enough that Tekken 6 stands out as a fantastic game in all of the areas where it counts, so it’s a worthwhile purchase if you’re even a little interested, but expected to be a little disappointed at times, if nothing else.
Story/Game Modes: GREAT
Originality: ABOVE AVERAGE
FINAL SCORE: GREAT GAME.
Short Attention Span Summary:
Tekken 6 is a great fighting game, make no mistake about that, but with some minor tweaks and adjustments, it could have been even better, and while it’s still worth picking up if you’re even a little interested, some more work would have made it a must purchase title. The story is solid enough to carry the game along and there are a whole lot of modes to play around with, the visuals and audio both are generally quite nice, and the game plays as well as it ever has. The Scenario Mode is a whole lot of fun and will keep you occupied for hours, for many different reasons, and with some excellent offline multiplayer options as well as a solid and well designed online component, you’re sure to get a lot of mileage out of the game all around. Unfortunately, the game suffers from SNK Boss Syndrome, and basically apologizes for that by minimizing the amount of times you HAVE to face him instead of balancing him out to a level where he’s not annoying, which is bizarre. Further, the game is focused on online multiplayer over same console multiplayer, as it lacks a lot of features in the latter that the former allows, and at present, Scenario Mode is single player only with a supposed online multiplayer patch pending, which is a shame in both cases. Now, don’t get me wrong: if you’re even a little bit interested in Tekken 6 you should by all means go out and buy it, because it’s still incredibly fun and well worth your money unless you hate Tekken entirely, and hey, Scenario Mode ALONE almost justifies the asking price. It’s just unfortunate to look at the game and realize that it could have been BETTER.