When Tekken Tag Tournament made its debut all those years ago, it changed the Tekken franchises future forever, officially cementing it as one of the greatest fighters you could possibly own. With vastly improved graphics from its predecessors and the first introduction into the tag system Namco had struck upon the perfect title, managing to fluidly mix great visuals, hugely complex combos which were well designed and completely accessible for those of us out there who maybe aren’t quite kings of the iron fist tournament just yet.

With such a great idea, not revisited for some time, other tag in style titles have stepped into the ring in order to take Namco’s crown. Heavy weights such as Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat and even Street Fighter X Tekken (controversial I’m sure) have done a decent job so is this the right time for Namco to bring back Tekken Tag or have they missed the boat completely?

Tekken is the ultimate tag game

Thankfully no, Tekken Tag is back and it WILL regain its crown, with over 50 characters available to mix and match fists with then you just can’t go wrong. Sure there aren’t any new characters brought to the mix but who cares? Especially considering that now (finally) you can take a team of both Marshall and Forest law onto the battle field to wreak some serious Kung-Fu havok! Controls are just as well-balanced as previous titles in the series, with serious thought gone into what move sets have been brought over and built upon but is the tag mechanic any good?

Well, yes, yes it is! With ideas no doubt learnt from big hitters of the past year such as Marvel VS. Capcom 3, Tekken Tag 2 adds a lot of flexibility with just how you decide to use your partner.

Your simple switch out is ready and waiting, if you choose to hold someone back for that moment you’re on your last ebb of life (that’s my personal old-school/foolish style) If you want to kick things up a notch, literally, you can launch foes into the sky and keep juggling them around the screen with some nice tag work. Namco have also taken some considerable time and effort to introduce the assault and crash features. Many Tekken fans will have been anticipating the assault which essentially allows you to law the smack down two-fold. Once you’ve knocked your opponent skywards, unleash assault sets of a huge combos with both players at once which goes on for quite some time (it felt like it anyway, I checked my watch and everything)

With all these combos flying around, it could seem intimidating for many to jump in on the franchise, but thankfully Namco have thought this through and come out fighting with an all new Fight Lab mode.

New to Tekken? Fight lab is here for you

Fight lab puts you in the steel clogs of Combot and takes you step by step through all of Tekken’s basic combo concepts right through to their most complex but at a pace that makes sure you’re certain of how to execute that ball busting assault after a short bound move. This for me was a huge addition, fighting games haven’t always been my strong point but after some time in the Lab I’m pretty confident I could give the best of them a run for their money!

Character customisation has entered the ring in a lot more depth allowing you to not only edit the clothing of your character right down to their hair but it’s now possible to buy equipment ready to whip out in battle for a quick gag or even a devastating blow, from spears to handguns this is a great new addition which certainly serves to spice things up as well as completely personalise your fighter which can’t be anything but good news for those of us who will be devoting our time to some serious online action! The only drawback I found lied within the actual navigation of the customisation menu, which is fairly cumbersome and clumsy with mistakes often requiring you to leave the entire mode in order to fix.

Graphically Tekken Tag 2 looks gorgeous, with crisp colours and smooth rendering it’s clearly at its peak and with the addition of some beautiful levels and the addition of Stereoscopic 3D there’s even more to gawp at happily as you lay down a pounding, or receive one.  The game’s soundtrack isn’t anything refreshing, with the almost obvious selection of dance style tracks laid out menu to menu and the inclusion of a special Snoop Dogg (or is it Snoop Lion) track especially for the game, it feels neither here nor there but lets face it, we don’t play Tekken for the music so this is a small misgiving.

Tekken Tag 2 features a nice set of modes both off and online.  Online there’s everything you would expect to face off against opponents in both tag and solo modes, but now with the addition of The World Tekken Federation which is much like Elite for the COD fans around, essentially allowing you to track your stats and compare them with any players world-wide (ahhhhhh I understand the name now) Team mode is also available allowing you and your mates to form clans and head out into battle, while gaining a small boost in XP for clan wins.

Unfortunately you’ll find similar problems with menu navigation as found in character customisation but thankfully nowhere near as annoying. Just try to be certain you’ve chosen the right settings unless you fancy cancelling your whole battle search and starting from the very beginning.

The king of tag is back

Offline again you’ll find everything you’d expect from a staple Tekken title including survival, team battle, time attack and ghost battle however pair play mode has been thrown into the mix and for me this is truly a nod to those of us who love nothing more than playing against mates while crashing on your sofa.

Pair play mode allows up o 4 players to group into 2 teams and take control of one partner each, meaning you have to keep a keen eye on the matches proceedings so that when your thrown into the ring, you don’t fall flat on your face and lose the match (and possibly some friends in the process) This mode alone kept me playing for several hours of fun, it may not be Tekken Bowling but I can forgive Namco thanks to pair play!

Tekken Tag 2 is back with a bang, there are a few minor niggles when it comes to menu layout and the soundtrack isn’t anything fresh (sorry Snoop Dogg/lion) but regardless of these facts Tekken fans everywhere will find more than enough to sink their teeth into and it will remind you why you’ve always had a soft spot for the series.

The King of Iron Fist Tournament champion is back! FIGHT!