Everyone has a Tekken story, whether that’s a tale from the first game, playing Tekken Bowl or laughing at the many ‘button mashing’ Tekken memes that have spawned over the years. For me the release of Tekken 7 brings back memories of crowding around a PlayStation with some mates for an afternoon of winner stays on. Tekken brings out the unexpected when fighting with friends – guaranteed to include plenty of “oohs” and “ahhs” from those watching the action.
Like the many Tekken stories that everyone holds dear, the newest entry comes with its own tale to tell. Story mode attempts to fill in the blanks between the ongoing feud between Heihachi and Kazuya, while loosely giving reason as to why Akuma has made the jump from Street Fighter to Tekken. Told via a series of CGI and graphic novel cutscenes, the story is told by a journalist recounting the events. Mostly it works, that is if you can overlook the nonsensical events and the dull tones of the journalist’s narration – he couldn’t sound any more disinterested even if he tried – this rubbed off on me slightly and I began to phase out of the story, and with lots of characters stepping in to have a turn, I cared less and less about the feuding of Heihachi and Kazuya.
The story does serve as a loose introduction to the combat of Tekken 7, while offering no real direction on the intricacies of blocking, parrying and sidestepping, it (mostly) goes easy on you and offers an LB assist to pull off advanced moves. Throughout the story you will face off against numerous other fighters on the Tekken Roster and fight waves of grunt enemies. Fights follow the traditional 2-bout win, but are rolled together into one long battle. Often the second bout saw a more vicious and precise AI – I’ll happily admit to making full use of the shortcut button in order to win.
Tekken is all about combos and devastating moves are often only accessible at the end of a set of punches and kicks. With the face buttons mapped to left and right punch/kick, combos are fast and furious – it’s no wonder Tekken made a name for itself among button mashers. There’s no real difficulty to stringing complex moves together other than remembering which buttons are in the combo you’re attempting. This makes Tekken 7 instantly accessible to the newcomer – and annoyingly – to those intent on using a one-button smash to clinch victory.
To master Tekken 7 you must persevere by studying the move list during practice or take to the Internet to find out which fighter suits your style best. Online fights are where you can really prove your mastery over a particular character – and while online has never managed to entice me before – I had a bloody good time fighting through the various tournaments.
Only suffering the odd disconnect – or is that rage quit? – There is nothing more frustrating when you progress to the final of your first tournament only for the host to leave. Pure nirvana was only three bouts away as I smashed someone who was ranked 10 belts higher than me 3-0. This is purely down to the strength of Tekken 7’s roster. It’s diverse enough for any player to find a fighter suited to their style. New players may find this too much of a hurdle to overcome, hoping for a pick up and play romp like Street Fighter, but Tekken 7 should be treated like EA’s UFC – there’s plenty to learn, just be patient and don’t treat it like other fighters.
Beyond online bouts and the main story, there is very little content to get your teeth into other than character customisation options rewarded via treasure battles or unlocking a plethora of bonuses in the gallery, but this is mainly aimed at the hardcore Tekken fan. Not all characters get a say (or a battle) in the main story, so there is a single battle and story to uncover, some of which are rather amusing, but this really is clutching at straws to string out the longevity of the game beyond the online fights.
The best tool in Tekken 7’s box (besides the roster) is the Rage bar. Only available when your health has taken a pounding, you can unleash a super move that can often turn the tide of battle. If you don’t respect an opponent on the brink of Rage, then you will surely lose the fight. To combat this, the Rage super can be blocked and even reversed, if your timing is right and that is the crux of Tekken’s combat… timing. Button mash and your moves will be clumsy.
Unfortunately Tekken 7 does suffer from one or two technical issues. The most annoying and frequent issue I suffered was long load times – a real pain when you’re battling with mates on couch co-op. Load issues even affected cut-scenes during the story, frequently freezing mid-animation. This aside, Tekken 7 is an excellent fighter. Reversing moves, parrying, double KOs and reversing grabs makes for a game that an audience will reward you with gasps – it’s certainly one for some sociable violence among friends.