Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (XBOX 360)
There is no doubt that Tekken is one of the most well known fighting game franchises of all time. With roots stretching back as far as 1994's original arcade game the series was, for a large portion of its existence, a title associated with the PlayStation brand. Times have changed though and nowadays almost everything is multi-format and Tekken is no different, first hitting the XBOX 360 in 2009.
Tekken as a franchise isnt just games though, it also stretches across media to movies and one of them was Tekken: Blood Vengeance which we saw on the Tekken: Hybrid disc last year. It was paired with Tekken: Tag Tournament, a spin-off from the main games and saw us play through a remastered version of the 1999 Playstation original.
Tekken Tag fans haven't had to wait the entire 13 years since the original for similar action as Street Fighter X Tekken provided a fix for us in recent times. That game saw characters from both universes battling out using Capcom's fight engine in tag battles, though tweaked for the Namco characters. Without doubt Street Fighter X Tekken was executed very well, putting some significant pressure on the main franchises for their upcoming games and despite also working on Tekken X Street Fighter (the alternate game to SF X T using Tekkens fight engine) Namco Bandai are ready to release Tekken Tag Tournament 2, bringing new content to their key franchise.
Like the original game Tekken Tag Tournament 2 doesn't have a particularly strong story running through it. We do get intro and ending videos (also available in gallery mode) however the main content is very much about the fight. As is common for modern games we get online and offline modes with the developers looking to push us towards play with others thanks to the online mode being top of the main menu... unlocking of content is required with an in-box code so remember to do that.
Once fully unlocked the game (online) is split into two key areas, Ranked Match and Player Match with both being similar, other than the outcome affecting (or not) our online standing. We can also access details for our fighters, replays and leaderboards when in online mode and battles can be 2vs2, 1vs1 or 1vs2.
Elsewhere the content is greatly expanded when offline, starting with the traditional Arcade Battle mode in which we choose two fighters (from over 50) and work our way through best of three fights against our opponents across various interactive backdrops. Ghost Battle is up next and surprisingly see's us take on ghost characters. This leads us to VS Battle against a local opponent and team battle (player or bots). Time attack asks us to clear stages as quickly as possible and survival has us take on a number of opponents with limited health available to our characters.
Even then there are additional areas of content which include a practice mode, complete with mini-story which allows us not only to learn the fight mechanic but to build our own Combot. Added to this are character customisation where we can use in-game credits (earned with progress, just like our achievements) to tailor the appearance of our on screen warriors... considering some of them are crazy enough anyway (dinosaur?), it adds a certain uniqueness to the game.
One thing which is common to all modes are the controls and Namco Bandai have taken a familiar route with these. Like previous Tekken games each of our main thumb buttons is assigned to a type of move (left/right kick and left/right punch) and the shoulder buttons used for tag. We execute more advanced moves with button combinations and move with the D-Pad by default, not the left stick and this edition of Tag Tournament allows us to more actively involve our partner. Tagging them in to throw/combo the opponent, switching at game prompted times to get an energy boost and allowing up to four players on screen at any one time.
Graphics and Audio
It comes as no surprise when playing Tekken Tag Tournament 2 that the graphics have moved on a load since the original, it has after all been a few generations of console tech since then. Even when we look at the remastered version of the first game there is still a huge leap forward and this game is filled with detailed backgrounds, good animation and well done cut-scenes. We noticed no notable slowdown on the XBox 360 version and while the overall experience is good visually there are a few rough edges. Little areas here and there that needed more time and polish such as the character customisation screen, one of the least demanding, which has some sub standard items in the background, a little surprising given that the developer has taken the time to build in clothing that changes with age or environment. On the plus side, 3D is fully supported in-game by both consoles and the strength of effect can be tweaked in the options menu.
On the audio front the game gives us exactly what we expect from the genre, loud tunes with nice solid impact noises and some minimal but effective shouts and ambient noise. Tekken Tunes allows us to take control of the soundtrack, importing our own audio of we wish which is a nice touch. Finally the dialogue is not in english, though still easy to tell that it is over the top in delivery and subtitles are provided as standard.
Upon firing up Tekken Tag Tournament 2 we are immediately dropped into a game which tries to emulate the arcade experience of its roots. We are immersed in a soundtrack reminiscent of the classics and the interface is also very similar, having to enter the game by activating player one for example. To activate 2 player in the menus the 2nd player also has to hit start, almost like adding coins would do in the past.
Once into the game itself there is a huge amount to do with a wide range of varied modes available offline which allow us to fine tune our skills before entering the online mode where its us Vs. the world.
The gameplay feels a lot different to many other fighting games, Tekken is a much more chunky, slower paced fighter (initially) than some but when the hits start flying combo's speed up the play and rounds can become very short which is great if on the winning end, not so much when beaten. It is also worth noting again the fact that D-Pad is the preferred mode of movement in this game, moving away from the stick method used by most. Those who attempt to change this will find that the default controls work much better, or are more accurate for this fight engine, than the stick and well worth persevering with, even if they initially don't feel natural.
The overall presentation continues to be of a good standard throughout, other than the occasional rough edge and it could be said that some extra background detail could be added if this is to compete on a visual level with other fighters. That said, if keeping the frame rate steady was the trade against detail then we are all for the decision by the developers.
With a very basic plot and a game built around the fight, online or offline, Tag Tournament 2 had to be solid in play and it is. Like the other key fighting franchise from this publisher, Tekken requires time to master and the lower speed of movement can initially seem tricky. Take time to learn the game though and the experience is rewarding and quality high.