The release of Tekken 7 has been looming in the distance like a stalker in the trees, and now that it’s finally here it’s time to relive those golden moments from Tekken Tag Tournament 2 in all of their modern glory, which seems to be the only Tekken game that everyone has unanimously played for some reason.
Joining the slew of classic fighting franchises with modern takes, Tekken 7 is a little late to the party, which I was hoping would mean that it’d end up being a bit more polished and refined than some of the more recent ones such as Street Fighter V. I was partially right. For starters, the roster boasts over 40 characters at launch, which shits all over the latest Street Fighter with almost double their roster almost 18 months after release. While I haven’t no-lifed the game enough to be able to tell you about the subtle differences, nor have I kept up with Tekken enough to tell you which ones are new, the characters feel different enough that most players should be able to find at least a couple with a play style that suits them.
I like to think that I’m at a point where I’m not just button mashing any more when I play fighting games, which probably makes me better than at least half of casual fighting game players, and despite remembering them as being kinda fucky, I found the controls for Tekken 7 to be quite accessible as a newcomer. Attacks for each limb are mapped to the usual buttons, but I found that special moves and combos come a lot more easily in the new Tekken than I’m used to, and require less dexterity compared to something like Killer Instinct. You may think this is “fukken casul” talk, but it goes a long way in making the gameplay flow well and feel nice to play. There are also story assist moves available in the story mode, which offer a shortcut of sorts for a character’s more powerful special moves, allowing even inexperienced players to chain in some fancy looking combos.
What is there really to say about the story mode in fighting games? Usually it’s a bunch of cut scenes that bridge the gap between fights and add a little bit of context, and Tekken 7 really doesn’t do anything different here. Although one thing that can be said is that Tekken lore is absolutely insane. At what point a rivalry between two futuristic mercenary corporations becomes an all out war featuring ancient dragons and demon fights, and where the Mishima daddy issues sub plot comes into it is lost to me, but I’ve learned by now it’s better not to think too much about plot points in Japanese games. Still, the Tekken 7 story fights offer pretty intense battles, especially towards the end, with the trademark final boss fight that’s so unfair you might as well be playing with one hand while blindfolded.
What really counts for me is how the combat feels, and for the most part I was satisfied. As I mentioned, the accessible controls allow players to really feel the flow of battle, and as well as being fast paced, fights last a good amount of time. Not only that, but there’s enough room in the health bars that come backs are possible, especially with the addition of Rage Arts. Once players hit critical health rage mode is triggered, which offers the player a chance to use a one off ultimate move of sorts that has the potential to completely turn the tide of battle in their favour, if it doesn’t win it completely. It really adds to the depth of the fights, without necessarily being too much of a crutch if your opponent knows that they’re doing. The only thing that bothers me about the fighting mechanics is how temperamental grabs are. Regardless of whether the character model seems to be molesting their opponent, the hit boxes usually have their own ideas, and as a result relying on a successful grab always seems to be a bit of a gamble.
The only other thing I can really fault the game on is the graphics. For a new gen fighting game, they lack a certain level of polish and cripsness, and I hate to keep comparing them, but it doesn’t even hold a candle to the visuals in Street Fighter V. Still, I’m told the game runs nicely at 60 FPS (buggered if I can tell the difference at a glance), and if the visual trade off is a more refined focus on the fighting system, I can kind of look past it.
All in all, I enjoyed Tekken 7 and rate it highly on my list of good fighting games, and for the most part it’s certainly the kind of experience I would expect from a modern fighter. As well as being accessible, the game offers a decent amount of content, and fluid and enjoyable mechanics. It’s just a shame they removed Roger – that Australian bastard is due for a hiding.
Also published on Medium.