If you ignore the arcade release (because who really has access to an arcade, let alone one with a Tekken 7 machine) then it’s been a full decade since a mainline Tekken title. That’s quite a long time to wait between games and while the fighting landscape has changed in that time, it feels damn good for Tekken to be back.
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
Platform: PC/PS4/Xbox One
MonsterVine was supplied with a PS4 copy for review
Tekken 7 is the long-awaited conclusion to the feud between Heihachi and Kazuya Mishima and while it’s not as well produced as say, the story mode in NetherRealm games, it’s a fun, blast from the past for fans of the series. As you work through the game’s 13 chapters you’ll get to revisit critical moments from the series such as the fight between child Kazuya and Heihachi, or their battle against the Jack-6 assault on the Mishima Dojo. It’s a real kick to get to actually play through these moments that were previously relegated to simple cutscenes and during certain fights you’ll even get quick flashbacks to previous moments in the series which just adds to the drama. The final fight in particular was very reminiscent of the final fight in MGS4, and is just as dramatic for anyone who has stuck with the series since the beginning. The only real downside to the story mode is that there aren’t that many characters involved in the drama, and most notably Jin himself is absent throughout the entire game with many characters talking about him, but only showing up occasionally in a comatose form. The thread that ties all the plot points together is also this reporter that’s seeking vengeance against Jin, whose plot ends up going nowhere so by the end of the campaign you’re left wondering why this was even included to begin with.
Tekken 7 plays just as the Tekken you remember, with two notable changes to the series. The first is the Power Crush which allows you absorb attacks from another player which will still deal damage to you, but won’t interrupt your attack. The most notable change is the addition of Rage Arts which will activate automatically when you reach a certain amount of health. Once activated you’ll enter “Rage” and begin to deal much more damage than normal. You then have the option of sacrificing your Rage to perform a Rage Art which is the equivalent of a super move and deals a significant amount of damage. Speaking of super moves, Akuma was added to this game and shockingly enough he actually makes me real excited to see Tekken X Street Fighter happen. His projectile based combat transitions wonderfully to Tekken’s 3D fighting space due to sidestepping allowing you to easily dodge his attacks which balances things out.
Once you’ve had your fill of the story mode you’ve got Arcade and Treasure Battle to chew on. Arcade is what you should expect: you’ll fight a few matches against the CPU only this time there’s no ending once you complete it. Now there’s another mode called Character Episodes where each character not featured in the main story gets a single one-off fight with some light exposition that sort of feels like it was cut out of the arcade mode. Each battle has a text introduction and ending, but by themselves they feel a little out of place considering they’re in the Story mode menu. Treasure Battle is where you’ll be spending most of your time though. Here you’ll fight against the custom characters of other real-life players in hopes of getting sick loot. Each fight rewards you with a loot chest and occasionally you get a special match that has a modifier like quadruple damage or a boss holding a rare loot chest.
Tekken 7’s customization options are staggering to say the least. Each character can be decked out with dozens of possible pieces of equipment, and with thirteen slots available to use you can really make your character as gaudy as possible. You’ll find typical things such as hats, to police sirens and even making your hit effect look like something out of the Adam West era of Batman. Possibly the most interesting items to add are the weapons that you can use in fights. There are chairs, guns, and even a fish cannon that you can use in a fight online. These weapons tend to do a surprising amount of damage, I’ve clutched matches with the pistol, but the wind-up on them is long enough to balance it out.
Something Tekken 7 desperately needed was a robust tutorial mode and I’m disappointed at its exclusion. Tekken is a very technical fighter and there are a lot of elements to the game that any newcomer to the series won’t ever know about because the game never makes any mention of them. The loading screen vaguely mentions some of these mechanics but fails to go into detail. A notable example is the tip about pressing the appropriate button to escape a throw, but what the loading screen doesn’t mention is what that button is. There’s also absolutely zero mention of what a screw or power crush is besides trophies asking you to perform them. Fighting games need to start including tutorial modes that go into detail the aspects of the game and genre. Explain what the new additions to the game are, how hitboxes work and the basic lingo of the genre. The hardcore crowd will obviously come into this game knowing everything there is about it, but how does the community expect to grow if it doesn’t offer newcomers a chance to even learn how to play? I let a friend borrow my copy and while he played it nonstop for a week, when I asked his opinion on various mechanics he had no clue what I was talking about since he never encountered any mention of them in the game itself. Even the training mode menu is a confusing mess of options, and that’s coming from a veteran of the genre; I can’t even imagine how it must feel to navigate that if you’re fresh. This is inexcusable and it’s getting quite frustrating that it’s 2017 and we’re still struggling with this when a game like Skullgirls solved this issue years ago.
A fighting game lives and dies by the online portion of its package and Tekken 7 thankfully passes with flying colors. Tekken 7 launched with what’s easily some of the best netcode I’ve experienced in a major fighting game in years. Out of the many matches I played online I came across maybe half a dozen with lag, but I was purposely connecting to people with faulty connections in those cases. I’ll be honest though, it’s a sad state to be in when we have to praise a fighting game for having a functioning netcode. The fact that most games launch in semi-broken states is something that seriously needs to change in the genre.
When you hop online you’ll find your typical Ranked, Unranked, and Tournament modes typical of any fighting game. You can also set up lobbies to host multiple players or spectators and also search for those lobbies. I will say that joining one of these lobbies can be a bit of a pain if you suddenly want to leave because you won’t be given any option of exiting the lobby until after a game starts; this leads to you having to completely shut down the game and restarting it. Something I do wish they’d change is that when you’re waiting to match up with a player you’ll be tossed into a room with an AI to pummel on; it’d be really helpful if I could access a character’s move-list and display the combos on-screen while waiting so I could practice a specific combo while I’m there.
The Final Word
Tekken 7 doesn’t reinvent itself, but it doesn’t need to because it always has been, and still is, one of the best fighting games around.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 – Great