Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is finally out for home consoles, which means you no longer have to embarrass yourself in the arcades to play it.
The game provides you with the great, tight, 3-dimensional fighting that has immortalized the series. If you have been thinking of taking the game to a competitive level, you’ll have to learn age-old Tekken techniques that other players have been perfecting for years. Thankfully, if you’re just starting out, the game includes some fantastic training tools to prepare you for the world of competitive video game fighting.
Tekken Tag Tournament, as the name implies, is a tag-based fighting game. Players must pick two fighters to send off into the gauntlet, and only one of them can fight at a time. If you take too much damage, you can swap your characters so that the wounded one can regain some strength. Once one character is knocked out, the team loses the round – by default, best two out of three.
But, I have to forewarn you that there’s some rough experiences on TTT2. There’s a few times when the PlayStation can’t handle the graphics, and you will experience slowdowns both gameplay and getting around the menu systems. The game is like an old muscle car: it’s a great, classic ride but lacks suspension… and airbags.
If you haven’t played Tekken before, this is a very good place to learn 3D fighting.
The roster is big and the practice mode is very informative. There is even a mode called the “Fight Lab” that is a story-based tutorial that teaches you almost everything there is to know about the game. Personally, I’ve found that combos for some characters are a little easier to do, and there is quite a lot of leniency towards counter-attacks and grapple-defence.
Veterans shouldn’t be disappointed. TTT2 isn’t a dumbed down version of its older counterparts, and many characters have several added moves that make up for their previous weaknesses. Using two characters, well, requires learning over 80 moves each, and at the same time understanding the purposes and disadvantages of each attack. Mind games and good combo execution work hand in hand here, and if you want to succeed, you’re going to need a lot of practice.
Tagging out your characters is a habit that you need to master in this game and it may take a while to get used to. Large combos can potentially destroy your entire health bar and getting hit by even a few strikes from some characters can cause a match to end quick.
For those who don’t want to learn the tag system, the game always gives you an option to fight solo.
If you’re used to the old Tekken games, be warned, you will notice that your stamina bar is much smaller as a tag-team. This change might seem a bit strange, but if you did not enjoy the combos that involved juggling your opponent in mid-air from Tekken 6, the smaller health bars make an effective stand-up game a very viable strategy.
In terms of modes, you have a lot of classic options, but nothing revolutionary beyond the Fight Lab and the tag-team gameplay. There’s an Arcade mode, which puts you against a group of opponents and a few boss fights. Ghost mode pits you against AI fighters that mimic other players and lets you keep fighting and fighting until you decide to finish.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of ghost variation, and you often have to fight the same ghosts several times before advancing to the next tier of difficulty. There’s also a Survival mode and a Team Battle mode, both of which are Tekken staples.
Pair-play is the most notable new mode here, despite a similar mode that has been used in Streetfighter x Tekken, and Dead or Alive 2. Up to four players can participate in 2 on 2 tag battles. There’s a lot of fun to be had because playing with a group of friends who know how to play the game is a blast. In addition, a Pair-play arcade mode allows you to co-operatively play with a friend against computer-controlled characters. So, if you’ve got a very talented Tekken buddy you can play together.
Strangely, there isn’t a way to run practice mode with a friend, considering this is a game focused on two versus two fighting. Learning combos with your friends will be quite difficult if you don’t understand each other’s characters, unlike in SFxT, where co-operative combos using a cross-rush are more straightforward.
TTT2’s got an impressive set of unlockable and bonus content. Each character has two or more preset costumes and 10 customizable costumes. Buying accessories such as shirts, pants, helmets, glasses and even hairstyles all cost fight money, awarded whenever you fight.
There are a lot of different options as well, and a great palette system for choosing what your favorite characters look like. A full costume costs quite a bit of cash, though. This means you’ll be spending a lot of time fighting before you can afford two outfits for your main team.
Customization, however, doesn’t end with your characters. There’s also a custom soundtrack option that allows you to set your own music to the different stages the game including the character Select screen and Main Menu screen.
Tekken 6’s replay system has returned too. This allows you to store and save dozens of your favorite matches online and offline.
Now, where does TTT2 falls short? No doubt, it’s definitely the tech department.
On the PlayStation 3, it has a huge 7.3-gigabyte installation. Load times are quite slow and, graphically, the game looks a little dated. The animation may be top notch, but on some levels, you may experience system slowdowns and frame dropping, which should not exist in a game dedicated to timing, co-ordination and reaction speed.
As described earlier, navigating menus also takes a bit of time. There are momnets the Main Menu reacts slowly. Requesting a rematch causes the game to re-load the entire level, while picking-up new costumes often takes a bit of loading.
With regard to online play, the netcode has been sufficiently improved, but the average Filipino connection speeds aren’t good enough to experience a truly playable Tekken match. In fact, most players are much better off meeting with friends to play this game instead of searching for an online match. The technical details are not always game breaking, but were apparent in Tekken 6. Indeed, it was disappointing to see some of the same problems return.
Overall, for TTT2, you have the timeless Tekken gameplay that won’t be gone for a long time. Tagging your characters is easy and the combo potentials are uncountable. The roster sports more than 40 characters, with even more moves and customization options. Namco Bandai will also be releasing even more characters and content, so be prepared for some interesting things to come in the next few months.
Moreover, playing the four player modes are fun, and the game’s bare essentials are easy for most gamers to pick up. Hardcore players, however, may have to stick to playing in the arcades if they’re looking to play against more difficult opponents because of the not-so-smooth gameplay (both online and off).
Nevertheless, this is the best 3D fighter of this generation. It has full of depth and replay value. Yet, despite it being an imperfect experience, it stays true to its roots while opening its doors to newcomers.