STAFF REVIEW of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (Xbox 360)

Thursday, October 18, 2012.
by Adam Dileva

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Box art Ask a gamer what their favorite fighting game is and I’m certain a good percentage of them would list Tekken as their preferred fighter of choice. Since its debut back in 1994 it has garnered fans with its unique fighting engine and deep gameplay mechanics. Over the years the series has been refined and evolved into a deep fighter with a vast and unique roster with many characters that are easily recognizable by their face alone.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was originally an arcade only title, but eventually it received a substantial update, named Unlimited. The Unlimited update for the game is what the console versions are based upon and now we have it in our homes, able to play our friends and enemies online. While the original Tekken Tag Tournament came out over a decade ago, it was known for boasting a huge roster with virtually all the characters from the previous titles. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 boasts the same accomplishment and contains almost virtually every noteworthy Tekken character from all of the previous games. With the largest roster to date in a Tekken game you’re now also able to choose a team of a solo fighter or a team of two.

While Tekken Tag Tournament 2’s storyline may not be the “official” plot line (as some characters wouldn’t exist if so), it’s more of a ‘what if’ or super-fight matchup between all of the characters. Not that you would expect a deep and engaging storyline from the majority of fighting games, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 still has ‘endings’ when you complete the Arcade Mode; cheesy videos and all (I’m looking at you ending sequence for Ling Xiaoyu).

The game is not called Tag Tournament for no reason, as you have the ability to tag in your secondary character whenever you choose. As you swap out your current character for the secondary one, the one not in use will slowly regenerate a portion of their health if needed. If a players’ life bar is emptied in battle, that player will lose the round, even if the backup character has a health reserve. This makes it imperative to swap and tag your fighters in when needed and to keep an eye on each health bar. If you happen to see your health bar flashing, make sure you go on the offensive if possible, because you’re being given a temporary boost in strength when you tag.

While the original Tekken Tag allowed for some combos and juggling with tagging characters, it has been greatly enhanced and now allows for extended move-sets and combinations. Tag Assaults are combinations that are finally done simultaneously with both characters making for some spectacular looking beat downs. There are even Tag Throws which can extend your combos and make your assaults even that much more devastating.

My favorite feature about Tekken Tag Tournament 2 has to be the option of allowing the player to choose in what type of battle they want. You can choose between 2 vs. 2, 1 vs. 1, or even 2 vs. 1 battles across mode such as Time Attack, Survival, Versus, or Arcade. Surprisingly there’s even an option that allows for 4 players to play together in a single match in 2 vs. 2 battle.

For those that don’t have hours a day to dedicate to learning all the finest intricacies of a deep fighting game, there’s usually a practice mode included where you can learn a few of the moves. The problem with most of these is that they essentially give you the move lists and that’s it; no real help learning the timing or what you’re doing wrong when it doesn’t work. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 tries to remedy this with not just adding a simple combat arena and showing you a list of moves to attempt. Instead, the practice mode dubbed Fight Lab is a fresh take on trying to teach you the basics but in an entertaining way that involves a robot with a hilarious storyline. You control a combat robot, aptly named Combot and will progress through levels of the Fight Lab, teaching you mechanics and moves to hopefully become a much better Tekken player that can pull off Tag Assaults and more on a whim. The best part is that the whole Fight Lab training is absolutely hilarious and done in such an odd mannar that you’ll laugh at almost every level. Even if you’re a Tekken master, I suggest playing through Fight Lab as it’s completely silly but very entertaining; and if you are a Tekken master, you’ll be happy to know that this is the first time you can customize Combot’s appearance and move-set.

Speaking of changing characters’ appearances, character visual customization is taken to a new level. While you won’t be creating characters from scratch, you are able to change almost every aspect of any characters’ costume. My Xiaoyu for example has a few outfits, one being a pink Power Ranger look-a-like, and another being a Santa outfit with a cute backpack. Being able to customize your favorite character to look exactly how you like does make you enjoy them just that little bit more.

When you eventually go online to play against your friends (after you use the included Online Pass) you’ll still be able to choose 2 vs. 2, 1 vs. 1, or 2 vs. 1 battles. Finally though, someone has figured out that gamers don’t enjoy staring at a lobby screen waiting for someone to join; Tekken Tag Tournament 2 instead chooses to throw you into a training area where you can practice some last minute moves and combos just before you’re prompted that an online opponent has been found. While it may be a small thing, I really enjoyed being able to test a new move just before fighting someone, and not staring at a boring lobby screen is a massive plus in my books. Every match I played was free of lag, and even though you can set to try and find similarly skilled opponents, I almost always wound of battling against Tekken masters, swiftly getting defeated, but at least it was a lag free beat down.

The biggest addition to the online fighting arena though has to be the surprising announcement of the World Tekken Federation; think of this as essentially a Battlelog or Autolog for Tekken. Logging onto the World Tekken Federation (WTF for short; I’m sure not by accident) website, you can get a complete breakdown of your past online matchups and a plethora of other insight to help you become a much more well versed Tekken player. The breakdown of matches will even detail the amount of throws, low blows, counters, throws dodged, low bloes dodged, tag assaults, tag combos, tag crashes, total damage for both players, their current online rank, fight duration, battle points earned, staged played on, date, gamertags of your opponents, and somehow, even more. You can track your achievements, and even see the Tekken tweets complete with a global map showing where people are tweeting from. To be honest it is much more robust than I was initially expecting and the battle history metrics alone is worth the hassle of the free sign up.

With a slew of new stages (with many breakaway walls and floors) and well over 50 characters to choose from across almost every Tekken game, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is without a doubt the most robust, polished, and deep Tekken to date. While it may not have much to completely revolutionize the series, it’s a solid package that can be called the ‘best of’.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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