Over 20 years ago we saw the release of a game that was to mark the birth of a fighting franchise that would last for decades. That game was Tekken. Since that first release we have experienced seven more console released games, as well as a number of handheld titles. The story of the series has not been able to continue since the launch of Tekken 6, though, so fans have been waiting very patiently for the tale to progress. Now that Tekken 7 is finally upon us, was it worth the years long wait?
Tekken 7 has been heralded as the conclusion of the Mishima family conflict that has dominated the series from the start. The story of Kazuya, Heihachi and Jin is one that has had its ups and downs in terms of player engagement throughout each instalment. This game continues that trend, although it seems that the developer has radically modified how we experience the story since Tekken 6. Much like how NetherRealm approached storytelling in their Mortal Kombat and Injustice titles, cutscenes primarily progress events with transitions into fights becoming the main source of actual gameplay. Tekken 7's approach is definitely more succinct albeit somewhat less interactive, making it less successful than those titles.
A random unnamed narrator takes us through the major events of the story, explaining how he has been affected by the ongoing war that the Mishima family has unleashed on the world. The personal vendetta between Heihachi and Kazuya takes priority over everything else, while supporting characters such as Nina, Alisa, Lars and Lee (and Akuma from Street Fighter, weirdly enough) add their own flair to the story. This story has a lot of missed potential and is an anti-climactic conclusion for the Mishima saga, although the ending alluded to a potential eighth instalment. It's certainly worth playing through for completeness' sake, but don't expect the campaign to be the primary draw for your time with the game.
Also within story mode lies the character episodes. Much like how Arcade Battles from previous titles concluded with an ending movie for a specific character, these work in the same way. However, they only provide you with one fight before showing a movie at the end. Many of these stories are uninteresting, but much like the main story, they are nonetheless still worth experiencing for simply discovering the motivations behind each character's appearance.
Alisa may be able to summon saw blades as arms, but a gattling gun is apparently much better.
Fortunately for the most part, Tekken 7's story is where the glaring weak spots end. The most important aspect of any fighter is the way it plays and this is a fighter worth playing. Tekken has always evolved throughout its history, introducing us to new fighters and mechanics to keep it on par with newer and flashier fighting games. A number of favourites return in the roster, such as Hworang, Yoshimitsu and Law, but at the same time, a lot of iconic faces have vanished. The likes of Lei, Julia and Anna are nowhere to be found and have been replaced by a surprisingly large amount of new fighters instead. Here, we see fresh meat like Katarina, Gigas, Claudio, Shaheen and even the ridiculous Lucky Chloe. It's great to see new people this late into the series, but veterans will definitely miss the familiar faces.
Whether you're playing as a veteran or newbie, there's plenty for you to get stuck into with the latest King of Iron Fist Tournament. The bright and vibrant colours are a treat as you fight, while every fighter moves fluidly in the variety of 3D stages presented to you. The cinematic camera is also put to good use when knocking out opponents or taking advantage of the new mechanic, Rage Arts. Acting as a last resort super move when low on health, inputting a specific button sequence will cause a fighter to unleash a cinematic-style move that devastates an opponent's health. Rage Drives, quick-fire attacks that work in the same way, are also an option and these keep fights fair, even when the odds look bleak.
A number of options are available when putting these fancy fighting mechanics to good use. Offline modes are fairly limited aside from the story, but nonetheless they can provide hours of entertainment. The classic Arcade mode returns, having you endure four fights and then Kazumi as this instalment's boss. It's nothing revolutionary — it's just another way to fight. The better offline mode is Treasure Battle. Here you will be fighting for the chance to receive the returning cosmetic items and customisation rewards at the end of a match. Treasure Battle presents a variety of crazy looking characters with which those items are put on show. The mode itself is both useful for that and simply a way to enjoy Tekken 7's best quality.
A fancy coat won't stop Lee Chaolan smacking someone in the face.
If you're up for some player-on-player action, online modes have been given just as much treatment, if not more. Ranked and player matches are the bread and butter of any fighting title, so they will be your go-to modes for a quick fix. For those who are after something more, the tournaments are highly enjoyable and well worth checking out. Once the host amasses enough players, a tournament will begin, pitting players against each other in rounds until two are left in the grand final. The fortunate twist, though, is that people who lose matches aren't just eliminated altogether. Instead they are grouped into separate rounds against each other, until the winner of that category makes it into the final. You never know who will make it through because of this, so watching each match unfold as a fighter or spectator can be quite exhilarating.
As a series, Tekken has provided a plethora of character ending movies and cinematic scenes for us to indulge in. Something that many will be thrilled to see is Tekken 7's Gallery because of this reason. Going all the way from the beginning to the very end, every single opening, character ending and cinematic scene of every console title is available to watch after purchasing them for a small fee of in-game currency. Fans will experience a wave of nostalgia when seeing clips of titles from years past, and any newcomers or players who may have missed some games in the series can catch up on everything they haven't seen. A good chunk of time can just be spent here and it's a brilliant way to wrap up the franchise if this is to be the final entry.
The fluidity and fast paced nature of a fighting title needs to be constantly flowing to keep up with the momentum of the players, but sometimes Tekken 7 can struggle to do that. While lag and freezes are only extremely minimal, the technical issue that remains is the fairly slow load times. While they aren't utterly horrendous, they feel slower than they ought to be, whether it is online or offline. When the game tells you to "Get Ready For The Next Battle", it really means it. Online tournaments have sometimes gone into infinite loading, as well, so the game appears to be in a consistent battle with this issue. It simply requires a little bit of extra patience, but it is a nuisance that would certainly not be missed.
Get online and put that giant fish to good use!
On the brighter side of things, any TA'er, whether they're a fighting novice or grand master, will love Tekken 7 for its achievements because of how easy they are. You will need to play through all the story and sample all the modes to varying degrees, but natural play will see you snapping up much of the simplistic list. The games before it weren't necessarily tough in comparison to other fighting games, but this one is even easier. If you play naturally you should eventually get all of the achievements even if you don't pay too much attention. However, if you're going for every one of the 43 achievements and nothing more, then you'll most likely be done in a matter of hours.
SummaryWhile Tekken 7 has a few problems, the positives certainly outweigh the negatives. It's a series known not for its highly engaging story, but rather its vibrant and colourful, yet complex gameplay. With the addition of Rage Arts, fights look even better and feel fluid in the process. Witnessing this in all modes, especially the online tournaments, is a treat and hitting the Gallery for some nostalgic downtime stops the gameplay from becoming too stale. We may be missing a few of the series' beloved characters and load times may hinder it slightly, but one thing is certain — Tekken is still an addictive fighting franchise that definitely deserves its place in 2017.
- Fluid and enjoyable gameplay
- Rage Arts add diversity to fights
- Great implementation of online tournaments
- Plenty of nostalgia to be found in the Gallery
- Mediocre story
- Iconic characters missing
- Long load times both online and offline
EthicsThe reviewer spent 12 hours playing through all available modes, while also managing to gain every achievement along the way. A physical Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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