Tekken 6 Preview 1 Oct 2009
I can’t believe it’s been as long as it has since we’ve seen Tekken. I mean, according to the Bastion of All Facts – Wikipedia – Tekken 5 came out in 2005, on PS2. Yeah, okay, there was Dark Resurrection awhile back, but for all the additions and upgrades that wasn’t a brand new Tekken. That was a revamp of Tekken 5.Which, altogether, means that Tekken 6 is the first real Tekken title on a next-gen console. As expected, it’s a graphical powerhouse, and it looks beautiful. The backgrounds are lush and animated, with plenty of incidental details (like roaming pigs in one arena, and villagers just off to the side who, despite being outside of the play area, actually appear to fall over if you knock your opponent into the stage wall next to them.) The character models themselves aren’t quite up to the quality you might expect for something that really only has two characters on screen if you stare at them when they’re not moving, but it’s impossible to care when they’re in motion – the fluid animation disguises any imperfections and just leaves a feeling of overwhelming power.Still, to paraphrase Mark Twain, graphics don’t make a game, as shiny graphics have little or no influence on gameplay. So what’s new on the gameplay front? Well, the newest addition to the Tekken fold is the Scenario Campaign mode – an update of the Devil Within/Tekken Force modes found in previous titles which turns the game into a Streets of Rage-esque brawler. You wander linear levels as whichever character you like, accompanied by a partner, beating down weak mooks before bumping into a boss at the end. It’s an interesting mode, with each character having a movelist pulled together from their attacks in the real game and a variety of extra weapons littered around (including miniguns) to assist, but let’s face it: it’s a diversion. It’s not the real game.The real game is the tactical and brutal one-on-one fighting that fighting games are all about, and from the short few hours I’ve had with it, Tekken doesn’t disappoint. There are a whole raft of characters – in the region of 40, I believe – with a new end boss, a new bonus boss, and a few characters new to the home console version.Chief among them is Alisa Bosconovitch, robot “daughter” of older character Dr. Boskonovitch, who displays a frightening mix of frailty and brutality through her stances and animations. Her default stance is to simply stand still, with no fighting pose, making her look both unassuming and weak. Her attacks, on the other hand, are brutal – chainsaws form from her hands, jets propel her kicks towards her opponents with frightening speed and power… It’s all visual, but it makes her a fun character to play as and against. She’s also one of the two main characters of the Scenario Campaign along with Tekken Force rebel Lars Alexandersson, who’s a tad more generic.The other new character that took my fancy was Zafina, who provides a sharp contrast – she’s got a wide mix of stances and relies on agility and precision, with attacks reminiscent of insects, including a wince-inducing high kick from behind that pretty much goes over her shoulder to hit the opponents. So, yes, all of the new characters have their own unique styles and personalities inherent in everything from their manner of dress (with Zafina’s being girlfriend-worringly skimpy) to their animations, which is a beautiful touch.As for the game itself, there are two major additions immediately apparent. The first is the Rage mode, which grants a player extra strength when they drop to critical health – a nice touch which makes fights all the more exciting at the last minute and allows for some great comebacks, but also has the possibility of annoying players with seemingly unfair comebacks. The other new gameplay feature we’ve seen essentially causes characters to bounce off the ground if they impact it heavily, making juggles a whole lot easier. This, I suspect, is what’s going to divide the hardcore – it’s hard to tell how much it impacts the game from our brief play, but this added juggle potential could well define winning strategies.At this stage, the game looks pretty close to completion, with minor bug-fixing likely to be all that’s left. If that’s correct, and the game stays true to how it’s played over the last few days, then lighter Tekken fans are almost certainly going to have a fun follow-up to look forward to, while the hardcore will pick it up and be arguing over it for years to come (as per usual.) It looks like Namco’s onto a winner here.