A lot of fighting games have been released since the last time Tekken graced the consoles. They have all appeased me in one way or another. Games like Injustice 2 as an example, were brilliant and highly enjoyable, however Tekken 7 once again proves why it is the best fighting franchise that has ever existed. T7 strikes the perfect balance that allows gamers without any beat-em-up knowledge to pick up a controller and simply start mashing buttons against someone else who is doing the same. It is also one of the most skillful fighting games on offer right now. The developers have managed to provide such accessibility to a wide range of gamers by providing movesets that require a huge amount of practice to perfect. Those who are veterans of Tekken however will feel right at home.
T7 had a lot to prove this year. Injustice 2, Street Fighter and Killer Instinct are just examples of games that have released, all of which are giving the Tekken franchise a run for its money. They all have something different to offer, but they simply do not compare to what the home of the Iron Fist has to offer. It has been a long time since Tekken 6, but I was able to pick up the game and without a few fights, remember how to execute the epic combos that King can carry out, or the special power punches that Paul would unleash. One of the major gameplay differences between Tekken and its competitors is the ability to side step. Generally in other fighting games, you can move back, forward, jump or crouch. In Tekken, you have always been able to side step too, giving you a more three-dimensional playing area. It adds another method to dodge enemy attacks, especially ones that are long distance. Some of the side-steps also are required for combos.
One of the greatest aspects of Tekken is how it focuses primarily on close quarter combat. Very few characters have the ability to use projectiles or long-ranged attacks. The ones that do, can very easily be dodged. It means you need to get close and personal with your foe.
Tekken 7 introduces a brand new story mode, focusing of course on the Mishima family. As far as beat-em-ups go, the Mishima family is probably the most interesting out of all families across this whole genre of games, and I’m very content with the continuation of their story. In this case, T7 explores the ruthlessness of the Mishima family. The younger generation of the family is obsessed with killing their seniors, whilst the seniors are content with abolishing their children to lava pits. Somehow, the children all control organizations where they own private militias and are trying to use their power to gain control over their senior counterparts. Strangely, the writers of T7 try to show Heihachi in a better light, trying to make the gamer feel more sympathetic towards the old man. It might work for newcomers, but I have played enough of the old Tekkens to feel no remorse for the old man!
There’s no doubt that the story of T7 is ludicrous and over the top. However the way the writers have integrated the other characters as part of the saga is pretty genius. Injustice 2 perfected this, and T7 is not far behind it. Despite the plot being primarily about the Mishima family, the other fighters in Tekken also make appearances in ways that are novel to veterans of the franchise. The story sometimes lets you play from Heihachi’s perspective, whilst other times you play as his child. The downside to this is that you cannot really choose your own path with a specific character, as the game dictates the flow of events and how the story pans out. However, I wouldn’t ask for it any other way. The developers and writers spend a long time making the game and if they have a particular story that they want to tell, I want to play it how they intended it to. Even if it means that I have to constantly jump from one character to another, I am happy to do so. Those who are new to the game will be happy to know that in the story mode, you can make the game easier by letting the game choose predefined attacks for you. I didn’t spend much time on this however, as I don’t believe that it’s the way the game should be played. If you just want to rush through the story mode for the sake of it, then it could be a worthwhile option to switch on.
Character customization is where T7 truly shines. I have never seen this level of customization in Tekken before and to be honest, I was very surprised with the sheer amount of detail that has gone into the customization aspect of T7. You can change the looks of characters in ways that are unimaginable. You can alter their threads with a very sophisticated amount of detail. There are literally thousands of options to choose from, and you can transform your favourite characters into some very bizarre beings! However, the customization doesn’t just stop with the threads you wear. You can even change the visual effects of your attacks as you hit someone, change the way your health bar looks and even change the backgrounds. Who would have thought that changing the art around your health bar would be so fun?! It’s important to note that this is all visual, so customization doesn’t suddenly make your character unbalanced when fighting. When playing online however, this customization can carry over, so even though you might be playing as Yoshimitsu, you’re most likely playing as a customized version that nobody else in the world has designed.
As you compete online, you can unlock new content too. However, if online is not your thing, you can still unlock new content by spending in-game currency or competing in Treasure Battle. Essentially, the more you play, the more you can unlock. If you’re a completionist, you’re in for a really long ride. Being able to play as King with a cape on makes you feel like a hero. Even though his moves are the same, I couldn’t help but feel that I was playing better knowing that my character looked the part.
For those who have come from Tekken 6, you’ll be pleased to know that the longer combos now deal less damage. Veterans of the game were able to string together combos that were pretty lethal, and they did too much damage. The damage scaling in T7 has been vastly improved, allowing for fights to last longer but most importantly, fights to become more balanced. Also side-stepping is less about dodging as previous games. Despite all of these changes, T7 is still from a gameplay perspective, the best fighting game that is on offer right now. It is the best Tekken released to date and there are enough characters in the game to suit everyone’s playstyle. As a worst case scenario, newbies can just play as Eddie Gordo and start mashing buttons. The entire game is complimented with a pretty epic soundtrack that pumps you up before each major fight, especially when playing the story mode. You can even customize the playlist!
For me, the longevity of T7 is primarily down to the online multiplayer, which I am pleased to say is stable at the time of writing this review. Sometimes when I have people streaming at home, or when I’m matched up against someone on the other side of the world, fights have some latency which really ruins the experience, but 95% of the time the matches were silky smooth. There really isn’t a current generation console fighting game that has taken off in the eSports department. We have now seen pretty much everything that is on offer, and if I had to personally choose, I’d give my vote to Tekken 7. It has the potential to go the furthest in eSports and I’d definitely tune in to watch live streams of the best gamers competing on the big stage. EGL, make it happen!
Review code courtesy of Xbox