Despite being a hardcore Tekken fan from a young age, I found it difficult to stay into the series as the games progressed and changed. With new characters being introduced and more combos to memorise, I was starting to be put off when the games became more difficult and less rewarding, or changed features as new instalments were released. Tekken Tag Tournament 2, however, is unequivocally the best instalment yet.
Whatever is lost in the unsurprisingly basic presentation of the main menu is compensated by the in-game graphics: overall, they’re delicate but precise. Character detail is near perfect, and stages have beautiful design and softly rendered textures; the sheer look of the game is enough to make you want to continue playing. On top of this, the responsive character controls make combat and movement feel natural and look fluid, putting the icing atop the Tekken cake.
By including every great aspect of Tekken but refining them, this game has become one big Tekken sandwich – tasty, right? It can still proudly say that it’s different, though; there are new features to draw you in, and you’ll still spend days on end customising characters and making the game your own. Regardless, Namco still haven’t made it any less challenging. Timing isn’t massively vital for executing combos, making the controls deceivingly easy (if you can remember them), but those who love to spend their nights learning much-craved combos will be pleased to discover TTT2 is packed full of them.
Newbies won’t be able to stand a chance against seasoned Tekken veterans because of these deadly, superhuman combos; although it might be stating the obvious, the degree to which new players are beaten in Tekken is unparalleled in other fighting games. New players won’t even be able to stand up, spending the majority of their time being juggled in the air. Fortunately, Namco have tackled this problem by introducing an all-new tutorial feature called “Fight Lab”, in which you play as a “Combot” learning everything from basic punches and kicks to more intricate features of the game.
These lessons are laid out in the classic Tekken approach of hilarious craziness and fun, lined with explosive voice acting and gorgeous cutscenes. Furthermore, the experience and money earned in Fight Lab can be used to customise the Combot’s every move to suit the player’s style; Combot can even be selected in other game modes to ease new players into the game. The learning doesn’t end there, either; there’s a Practice Mode in which every single move can be demonstrated by the computer, accompanied by an input diagram to help players perfect their timing – a useful tool for veterans and newbies alike.
Arcade mode is mostly regurgitated: this is the equivalent of any other game’s “story mode”, with eight fights, two mini-bosses, and one ridiculously tough final boss – it’s basically perfect. Ghost Battle is much the same in terms of gameplay, but allows players to choose their next fight from three sets of custom characters, and is essentially never-ending. My absolute favourite feature would really have to be the “Pair Play” multiplayer mode.
Pair Play allows two to four players to battle with or against each other, with all four players able to tag in and out at any time during the match; it’s another amazingly well-polished and solid feature that ultimately ends in four players shouting and laughing at each other in a massive bundle of fun. It adds a brilliant social degree to the multiplayer fighting experience, which really brings it to the next level.
Character customisation is obviously another area in which the game shines; Tekken traditionally offers some of the best customisation options, perhaps rivalled only by Soulcalibur, and the sheer number of choices are simultaneously cool and crazy. For instance, my favourite character, Hwoarang, is currently dressed up as a Power Ranger, sporting a baseball bat that is usable in combat – now that is cool.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is overall a serious improvement from previous iterations, while still echoing the franchise’s classic features and best areas. It honestly has me wondering what’ll come next if Namco continue to do a good job – and whatever it is, I want it. If you’re a fan of the series or just generally interested in playing a kick-ass fighter, then this is a must-have.