Welcome to the King of Iron Fist Tournament 7! The latest entry Tekken’s prestigious franchise returns for the first time on current gen consoles. The fighting genre has seen some big steps forward since the release of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 back in 2012, but has Bandai Namco armed their latest entry with all the features required to stay relevant, or are they simply… Tekken the piss?
The insane story begins with a bang with Heihachi Mishima seizing control over the Mishima Zaibatsu. Meanwhile, Jin Kazama is absent and the conflict he began in Tekken 6 is reaching boiling point. The world is in chaos and for some reason during this ordeal Heihachi decides it’s time to announce a new Iron Fist Tournament.
The main story doesn’t really focus on the tournament at all with the central crux of the narrative being a battle of public opinion between Heihachi’s Mishima Zaibatsu and Kazuya’s G Corporation. It is an interesting twist and as the story develops it becomes more and more entertaining… that is, when it’s focused on Heihachi and Kazuya.
as the story develops it becomes more and more entertaining… that is, when it’s focused on Heihachi and Kazuya.
The biggest problem with Tekken 7’s story mode is the reporter character – who leads the narration throughout the entirety of the game. To put it simply, hes’ bland, boring and has no real need to be there.
That being said, the story mode is at it’s best when it focuses on it’s CG Cutscenes and the narrative story between Heihachi and Kazuya. Whenever the story returns to the narrator it becomes a bit tired and uninteresting.
There are many high points throughout the duration of the narrative and many battles feel like true epic showdowns. The issue is that these fights are scarce! The story only uses a few central characters leaving 90% of the cast out of the main story and with many plot points feeling like they go no were and are not expanded upon. The end product feels really rushed and incomplete with the ending of story mode feeling like it is leading into a second half that just isn’t there.
There are many high points throughout the duration of the narrative and many battles feel like true epic showdowns.
That isn’t to say that Tekken 7 is disappointing however, especially in terms of gameplay. It might just be the best in the series to date. Bandai Namco have certainly tried new things this time around, altering the gameplay system from Tekken 6 and allowing for new juggle mechanics. In addition, brand new moves designed to help new players have also been implemented into the game.
These new attacks are the Power Crush, Rage Drive and the cinematic Rage Arts. The Power Crush allows you to perform an attack that is armoured allowing you to plow through an opponent’s offence, the Power Crush can still be stopped by a low hitting attack however, so it isn’t completely invincible. Where things get really crazy is the revamped Rage System.
Rage activates when you are low on health and gives you a damage boost, on top of that it gives you access to the Rage Art and Rage Drive. Rage Arts are high damage cinematic attacks which are reminiscent of Street Fighter’s super moves. The Rage Drive is a unique attack for every character with different properties depending on the character. Some will have a massive damaging strike that can be used to extend combos, whereas others are able to harness a one off powerful strike.
Part of what makes the new system rewarding is learning how to implement these new mechanics into your playstyle. With the right usage they can turn the tide of a battle in your favour. As with all fighting games the usages between characters vary but there is always an effective way to utilize rage between every character in the game… it’s just a shame that not all the Rage Arts are made equal.
However, the issue is that for myself, someone who has played every entry ever since the original on the PS1, these combos and system changes all come natural to me after a short playtime. To someone who has never played a Tekken title before this is quite a mammoth task and the game has no mode or handy information video to watch that will inform new players how all of this works. This in short feels like a missed opportunity. The Rage Mechanics are bound to bring in some casual players, but with no real mechanics training mode to help new players wrap their head around the various attacks and properties applied to them, a large chunk will probably never be able to get over that hump.
The Rage Mechanics are bound to bring in some casual players, but with no real mechanics training mode to help new players wrap their head around the various attacks and properties applied to them, a large chunk will probably never be able to get over that hump.
In terms of graphics and sound. This is the most complete package in the genre right now. Stages are plentiful and stunning with a variety in location and themes. Across the title a range of scene’s can be found, including a destroyed cities mixed with dense jungles and of course a live volcano. The attention to detail is incredible and the stages ooze character. Character models are intricately detailed. Even small touches like fabric detail shining through with the brilliant lighting engine in the game which makes for spectacularly dynamic fights.
Small touches here and there with camera flourishes make the game pulse incredibly exciting to watch. When two players are low on vitality strike at each other simultaneously, the game slows to a painstaking crawl as the camera zooms to show whose strike will win the match. Counter hits create large explosions that fill the screen with light that acts as a visual indicator of a counter hit as well giving the strike a huge oomph that it wouldn’t normally have.
The soundtrack is outstanding with stage themes bringing out the personality of the beautifully designed stages with music that builds the hype when a match reaches its boiling point. It’s satisfying to note that the team at Bandai Namco created two themes per stage, one for the first round and another for the final round. The final round always tends to be that touch more epic combining a fast paced track with astonishing camera flourishes in order to create memorable moments that I was able to experience in my first 5 matches with friends.
Tekken 7 also features an expansive customisation mode that gives you the chance to make your character look completely unique. Everything from costume pieces, hair, face make-up, hit effects and character portrait can be completely changed to whatever you want. The creativity this mode allows is excellent as I online have ran into so many characters dressed as fan-favourites from various franchises from Solid Snake to McCree. These customization pieces can be either unlocked via in-game gold or through the Treasure Battle mode where customization pieces are awarded at the end of every fight ensuring a steady stream of unlockables.
Speaking of online, Tekken 7 has a fairly expansive if not hit and miss online experience. As many are aware at launch the online was completely unplayable, players couldn’t pair with each other even if they had a strong connection. That has since been fixed. Yet, the experience still feels shaky with lag being present but manageable it takes away from what could be one of the best online systems for a fighter yet.
Ranked and player matches allow players to battle it out for leaderboard notoriety or for fun. Tournament mode is the is a welcomed new addition to the franchise that gives you and 7 other players the chance to duke it out in exchange for gold that everyone throws into the pot when they join. Winner takes all and these tournaments effectively can be tuned to play like the professional tournaments seen at Evo.
As if that wasn’t all Tekken 7 also features a full franchise gallery compiling a story synopsis to help newcomers follow each Tekken game. This also features all the original introduction cutscenes and ending scenes from every Tekken title to date. These can all be unlocked with in-game gold and feature promotional artwork for each title. This is a simply brilliant addition, not only being helpful for newcomers but also giving long-time fans like myself a series case of nostalgia.
Tekken 7 is a brilliant title; it has some of the smoothest most exciting gameplay in the series to date with graphical fidelity and detail that has set the bar for me in terms of what this style can do. It has plenty to do outside of its lackluster story mode and although the online isn’t the most stable, it is still functional enough to ensure you can still have fun despite having to compensate for the lag. It may not arm newcomers with enough information on how to play out of the gate but once the learning curve is passed there is so much fun to be had with this beautiful brawler.
This copy of Tekken 7 was purchased by writer, Jack Gash for £49.99. He has since spent around 22 hours attempting to punch his way to the top of the Iron Fist Tournament.