STAFF REVIEW of Tekken 7 (Xbox One)

Monday, June 12, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Tekken 7 Box art I’ve always enjoyed fighting games. Ever since I could remember I was either battling in some Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter, Battle Arena Toshinden, and of course, Tekken. At one point I was so into the genre that I bought one of those fancy fight sticks, granted, I never became actually good enough to become competitive, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I did play. While not always my very go-to, the Tekken series has always been a great backup fighting game to my library over the years. I remember playing hours and hours of the first few Tekken games, though to be honest, I don’t think I’ve played very much of the last two or three iterations, with Tekken 3 or 4 being the last one I put any serious time into.

Here we are in 2017, just shy of almost a decade since the last major Tekken release, so fans no longer have to wait as their beloved series has finally returned, and in a big way with some great changes that not only adds new gameplay mechanics for returning veterans to learn and utilize, but added layers of simplicity for new players to the series to jump in without feeling as overwhelmed with the perfection needed that other fighters tend to do. With a huge roster, working online multiplayer, and some great fighting, Tekken 7 has returned to the forefront of the genre in a big way.

One thing that I’ve always enjoyed about the Tekken series is that its main narrative continues on from game to game, with each getting closer to a final conclusion regarding the main conflicts. It seems Tekken 7 may have finally concluded the overall main storyline involving the G-Corporation and Mishima family once and for all. The story mode last a few hours, being told by a journalist narrating what he’s uncovered about the real truth behind the conflict. There’s even a few really cool parts where you get to reenact, er fight, classic battles from before, but with the new mechanics employed in Tekken 7, complete with the updated graphics, something that diehard fans of the series should really enjoy.

Story mode allows for multiple difficulties based on your skill level, but there’s still a level of AI smartness that will adjust to your fighting strategies. Simply mashing buttons will work some of the time, but eventually you'll need to be purposeful with your move inputs or you’re going to get wrecked very quickly, especially from the ‘boss’ stages. Once you do successfully complete the story, another difficulty unlocks alongside extra bonus stages and a slew of other options that open up the gameplay even further.

I really only had two complaints about the story mode: First, the narrating journalist is poorly voiced and simply not engaging enough to care about. While the main characters are of course done very well and are entertaining, having to slog through the narration bits can be frustratingly boring, especially since many of the cutscenes are done in a comic book style and not in-game, which I found odd for such a AAA game. Lastly, there are some serious loading issues. Not just the loading times between stages, but it seems the game loads during these cutscenes, so there are some major hitching issues that present themselves. As you’re watching a great cutscene, all of a sudden it will completely stop as it buffers and catches up on loading, taking you completely out of the immersion. While it only happens during the cutscenes and not actual gameplay, it’s still a major distraction and was unexpected.

Tekken 7 has a huge roster from the get-go with over 30 characters available, each of which have their own strengths and weaknesses and cater to a specific type of play style. While the roster may not be the biggest lineup in its history, the majority of the staple characters return, complete with a new ingame engine.

Tekken’s unique control scheme maps each individual arm and legs to one of the buttons, so it plays different than other fighters, which is one reason why so many people flock to it and enjoy its style. Each character has simple moves that can be combo'd by button mashing, but there’s a lot of depth contained within each character if you truly want to become a Tekken master. It’s cool being able to put together a few awesome looking combos, seemingly by accident, but once you learn the intricacies of your preferred fighters and learn their move-sets, it becomes even more rewarding when you’re pulling off intricate combos with ease and purposely.

There are two main mechanics that really make Tekken 7 stand out and show that the developers are trying something new to entice new and old players alike. First is the ability to essentially absorb an attack mid-animation, allowing you to take some slight damage, but perform a powerful move to counter, almost like their version of an EX-move. When the AI starts using this in the later fights you’re going to start cursing the system, but once you learn how to harness its powerful capabilities, it’s a game changer.

Secondly is the newest, and arguably coolest, addition to Tekken 7, the Rage Arts. These are fundamentally an answer to Street Fighter’s Ultras, or Mortal Kombat’s X-Ray specials. This is completely new for the series, and while it takes some getting used to if you’re a pure Tekken player, I find it’s done very well and balanced accordingly. When you’re down to roughly a quarter of your health left you’ll start to have a red aura glow around you, indicating your Rage Arts is ready to use. This move is performed with a specific combination of buttons, varying from character to character of course, and will do massive damage if it lands, while of course performing a flashy cinematic move to sit back and enjoy. Miss though and you’re left open for a serious counter attack, so you need to learn your timing and range to utilize it to its fullest.

On a less serious note, you can now earn money and unlocks for playing certain modes, allowing you to purchase cosmetic items for your characters. These items allow you to dress up your favorite characters in some seriously cool, and utterly ridiculous outfits, to suit your preference. There’s a ton of items to get, and if you want to unlock them all it’s going to take some serious grinding to be able to afford them all, which brings up the replayability value substantially for Tekken 7. You can find normal everyday items like cowboy hats, sunglasses and shirts, but there’s even a more completely ridiculous roster of items like frog hats, sushi backpacks, horned hats, sexy outfits and more. This allows for some crazy customization and simply allows you to show your personal flair on your favorite characters, online and off.

Speaking of online, I was honestly expecting the online multiplayer to either not work outright, or not well at launch. I can happily report that neither of these are the case, as I have zero issues finding someone online to battle with each time I tried. Instead of simply waiting in a lobby for someone to join doing nothing, you’re put into a practice arena where you can practice some moves and combos as you await a challenger. There’s a ton of different options and with all of my matches I had no lag creep in, making for some flawless matches online.

I applaud the series for continuing an overall narrative, and the surprise characters and reveals were quite exciting for its story mode. Tekken 7 is not only a return for the series to the forefront, but a great addition to the genre as a whole. It tries new things and succeeds in almost every way, and even though I’m not the biggest fighting fan these days, as I’ve retired my fight sticks, I’m still quite enjoying my time with Tekken 7, in lengthy or short bursts. Even my 4 year old really enjoyed playing, being able to put together a few combos by button mashing, but more importantly, dressing up the characters quite silly to her liking. There’s lots to do for series veterans to learn but is also a great entry point for newcomers to the series. Tekken 7 is back and shouldn’t be missed, regardless of your skill level.

Overall: 8.7 / 10
Gameplay: 9.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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