Published on June 15th, 2017 | by Sean Warhurst
Tekken 7 PS4 Review
Summary: For the first time in nearly a decade it feels like the Tekken series has undergone an evolution of sorts.
Hail to the... You get it.
The Tekken series and I have had a long history together. Although reared on Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, it wasn’t until I played Tekken 2 on the PSX that I finally found my footing in the fighting genre.
Sinking its claws into me far deeper than its main competitor Battle Arena Toshinden, Tekken 2 was my introduction into the world of quasi-3D fighting and I eagerly lapped up the blocky polygons, complex special moves and the added depth that came with being able to dodge in and out of the screen rather than being restricted to a 2D field.
I followed the series up until Tekken 4 and came back for Part 6 and Tag Tournament 2, but I never fell into the series as hard as I did with Tekken 2 and, to a lesser degree, 3; as games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat made their big comebacks, it seemed like the Tekken series had lost some of its lustre and was relegated to a distant third place, with the latest entries failing to build upon the established formula in any real meaningful way.
Now, five years after the last major entry, Tekken 7 has stepped into the spotlight to see if it can once again regain its place among the upper echelons of the fighting elite.
The first thing players will notice when diving in is that there have been a few major additions to the gameplay, most prominent of which is the new Rage Arts technique. When your character has received a certain amount of damage they’ll become imbued with a reddish glow and gain the ability to unleash a devastating flurry of specialised attacks. These moves are referred to as Rage Drive attacks and will help you regain control of the battle if used strategically. You can also choose to activate Rage Arts, which are finishing moves that can easily take off a maximum of a third of an opponent’s health bar, with the amount of damage increasing the closer your character is to defeat.
Rage moves shift the gameplay dramatically and can quickly turn the tide of any battle; how they will be received by the Tekken hardcore remains to be seen, as their presence removes some of the technical aspects of the combat by giving struggling players a virtual “get-out-of-jail-free” card, but conversely Rage Arts do make the game more accessible for newcomers, especially when it comes to the notoriously punishing online multiplayer.
Unlike the anaemic initial release of SFV, Tekken 7 comes with a bevy of different modes to play through, although there is a glaring lack of an actual tutorial mode to introduce mechanics to newcomers; practice mode allows you to feel out things on your own but it would have been nice to have a comprehensive overview for novices.
The story mode is, as usual, centered squarely on the legacy of the Mishima clan, but instead of acting as mere bookends to the fighting the story weaves throughout the game in a manner similar to Street Fighter V and Mortal Kombat X’s single player campaigns.
Running around an hour and a half, the main story is serviceable enough but pales in comparison with the stellar narrative work developers like NetherRealm Studios have been knocking out. Smaller episodes focusing on different characters help to fill things out but only really run for a single fight and don’t really add anything of worth to the thin storyline.
Thankfully, nobody really comes to the Tekken games for their gripping plot anyway – It’s all about the unbridled joy of making opponents French kiss your fist, and its in this category that Tekken really excels.
With a roster of 36 characters, each with their own unique movesets, you’ll soon discover which ones best suit your own fighting style. The thing I always loved about Tekken was that it was fairly easy to pick up but hard to master; you could feasibly button mash your way through a match as Eddy, hoping for the best, but if you took the time to actually master a character’s complex moves you’d unearth a hidden depth of technicality that sits up there with the best. Tekken 7 manages to maintain this balance for the most part, although again Rage Arts could be a bone of contention for some.
Online mode is where most players will end up spending their time, although I liked to dip into the Treasure Battles periodically in order to rank up and unlock items such as clothing and accessories and strange accroutments such as different impact effects and ghosts that hover around your character.
Multilplayer itself feels a little weak, with only ranked and unranked battles and multiple fight tournaments really on offer. Although it’s fun taking on opponents from around the world, I honestly got a little tired with the lack of mode variety and contending with lag and other issues that come with the territory, hence my constant return to the more fulfilling treasure battles.
Perhaps my favourite feature in Tekken 7, however, has nothing to do with the game itself. Tekken 7 has a comprehensive gallery that provides an extensive look back at cinematics from all of the previous games, allowing this reviewer to revel in the nostalgia that came with watching all of the endings from Tekken 2. Longtime fans of the series will adore the inclusion of the gallery and it’s ultimately a welcome feature that I wish more games would consider.
Graphics and Audio
Electing to use the Unreal 4 engine ensures performance stability across all platforms and a steady framerate of 60 fps, but this comes with the caveat that, whilst undeniably the best looking entry so far, Tekken 7’s visuals don’t reach the level of polish seen in games like the recent Injustice 2.
The audio is your usual pulse pounding industrial and electronic music and is relatively enjoyable, if unmemorable.
For the first time in nearly a decade it feels like the Tekken series has undergone an evolution of sorts, with the Rage Arts and Drive mechanics making for a decidedly different feeling game. Your mileage may vary in regards to these changes but to be fair you’re never forced to employ Rage Arts and can elect to continue to duke it out old school if that’s more your speed.
Technically this is the most accomplished Tekken title yet and despite the somewhat lukewarm campaign mode there is more than enough content to keep everyone from novices to the Kings of Iron Fist Tournament themselves busy for months to come.
Primary Format – Games – PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Game Genre – Fighting
Rating – M
Consumer Advice – Mature themes and violence, VR and online interactivity
Game Developer – Bandai Namco Entertainment
Game Publisher – Bandai Namco Entertainment
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst