Bandai Namco has released Tekken 7 to home consoles after hitting the arcades in Japan some time ago. The console version is based on the updated arcade cabinet, Tekken 7: Fated Retribution. Introduced as a 3D fighter back in the late 1990s, the series has expanded its character roster and visuals while keeping its core fighting style intact. Unfortunately, this has seen the series take a back seat to the likes of Street Fighter, especially in terms of e-sports. Tekken 7 has remedied that and offers an experience that makes you wonder why fireballs and dragon punches were ever important in a fighting game.
Tekken 6 was released some time ago and in all honesty felt like a flop. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 also contributed to the series feeling like a shadow of itself and only catering to the hardcore fans of the franchise. Tekken 7 caught the eyes of fans at E3 2016 with the trailer involving Heihachi versus Akuma from Street Fighter. Fast forward to almost a year later and the game has hit home consoles including PC. Tekken 7 is a stiff reminder of what the series used to be and what fans envisioned it would be in the future.
Fighting games have gone the route of including a story mode in recent years and it has normally resulted in a great single player experience aimed at letting players indirectly learn how to play each character. This is a bit different in Tekken 7. The story mode actually focuses on the story involving the feud between Heihachi Mishima and his son Kazuya. The cutscenes combine in-game engine footage and Japanese artistry to portray the story. Players will either go one-on-one with other fighters or take down a wave of soldiers or Jacks. Players will alternate between characters and also different timelines. It’s an origin story that opens the door to expand on the future. Besides the main story, there are character episodes to download and they involve one fight. There seems to have been solid input put into the story mode, but there was more that could have been done.
Besides the story mode, Tekken 7 offers a lot in terms of replayability. There are no fluff modes, but each mode is deep enough to engulf yourself in. There is a traditional arcade mode, along with practice and a treasure mode. The treasure mode allows players to raise rankings for each character while unlocking things along the way. There are plenty of customizations to unlock and the game uses Fight Money as a currency to unlock costumes and other things that should be part of a fighting game. Customization is deep and even consists of a photoshoot mode where pics of your characters can be taken and used as thumbnails.
Online fighting is also in Tekken 7 as it features tournaments that can be created. Eight players can participate in the tournament and matches are done simultaneously. Ranked and unranked matches are offered and players can practice with their characters while waiting for a matchup. During unranked matches, you can join a group and watch each match take place and it plays smooth with no hesitation, skipping or lag. The same can be said for online matches. They play without a hitch at all and are fairly quick to get and out of. Players can challenge a revenge match after each and the default plays to best of five matches. Players who frequently disconnect will be identified with either red or yellow on their banner so you can know what to expect when going against someone. Lastly, this is all done through lobbies and players are quick to join matches. Thankfully, the interface is quick and responsive so it doesn’t take long to find a match.
Tekken 7 offers 38 playable fighters, which is quite hefty. This includes Akuma from Street Fighter and the pre-order character Eliza. Eliza is worth the pre-order as she is a quick and agile vampire. Fan favorites such as Law, Eddy Gordo and Nina return. More importantly is that the new characters do not feel tacked on. Everybody on the roster is worth mastering and even the returning characters have changed up a little bit. Bandai Namco actually put time into developing these new fighters compared to throwing in forgettable characters just to make the number of playables increase.
The King of Iron Fist truly shines in battle. Tekken 7 is vibrant, fluid and features amazing artwork. The cutscenes in the story are worth watching just for how Unreal Engine 4 looks. The stages still feature dynamic backgrounds where players can go through walls or floors, now indicated within the stage. The scenes for the stages look pretty, but it would’ve been nice to have more activity in these backgrounds. As for the actual fighting, Bandai Namco has brought the series to modern day.
There’s a fury bar that gets filled up and allows for two special attacks. Finally, once your health bar gets down to about a third left, you can pull off what feels like an ultra move with a cut scenes that will get you back into the match, or it will finish off your opponent. The action is fast and responsive as players look to generate combos. Throw in the grappling moves the series is famous for and Tekken 7 offers the most complete fighting experience it’s ever offered. With no need for blood and flashy ultra moves, there’s enough for casuals to learn and play and for hardcore players to master.
A series where the soundtrack stood out years ago but went a bit flat, one thing that recent Tekken titles have gotten flack for is the soundtrack. While the upbeat, electronic music and mixes do a fairly good job in Tekken 7, players can now choose classic soundtracks to play the game with dating all the way back to the first game. The voice acting is what you would expect from a translated game, however, it’s hard to understand why there are conversations between two individuals conducted in two different languages.
Tekken 7 is the fighting experience that its fan base wanted it to be. The game will make you want to drop all the fireballs and fatalities and jump back to a franchise that most put on the backburner. 3D fighters have taken a backseat as the likes of Virtua Fighter and Soul Caliber have gone missing. Tekken 7 could be just the title to garner interest in bringing those games back. With little flaws in concept and execution, Tekken 7 feels like a traditional fighting game with the right amount of flash that players will want to master.