Preview: Hands-on with Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Tekken, a name synonymous with brilliant fighting mechanics and amazing characters along with everything else that sums up a series of consistently top-notch fighting games. One of the most popular to the series is now finally getting a sequel which also means the first time Xbox owners will have the chance to enthrall themselves in it, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is the fabled title I speak of, and after so many trailers, sneak peaks and rumours I recently had a chance to get my hands on the (at least for me) Holy Grail of fighters.
With Tekken Tag 2 boasting 50+ playable characters I was immediately impressed with the choices laid in front of me, unfortunately on release a handful of fighters will only be available depending on which retailer you choose to buy from, however Katsuhiro Harada, producer of the Tekken series, has made it clear that after a small period of time all of these exclusive fighters will be made available through FREE DLC. Considering the past issues and amount of backlash previous developers have received this is a clearly smart move on Namco’s part.
Tekken Tag 2 is laid out in much the same manner as its predecessor, with matches tasking the player to select two fighters for their team. Players are able to switch their fighters out at any time, allowing the inactive character to gradually recover some life they might have lost as well as being able to be “tagged in”. At certain points in the game you may tag in your additional fighter, giving them a temporary boost in strength and therefore able to turn the tides of battle..
The first big change I immediately picked up on was just how much the tag mechanics had been expanded upon allowing for extended tag combos and combined moves. New techniques include: combined tag throws which, if timed properly, can be escaped from. ”Tag Assaults” can now be done simultaneously with both characters participating in the combo at the same time. The Tekken design team have also chosen (quite wisely) to bring across some features from Tekken 6, “Bound” hits are a brilliant example of this, allowing you to bring opponents who are airborne crashing to the ground temporarily stunning them in order for you to keep your combos flowing.
With the game mechanics now even deeper, I’m sure anyone new to the franchise may have reason to quake in their boots at the thought of the steep learning curve ahead but Namco have provided a rather brilliant solution. That solution is a new Fight Lab mode. Fight Lab puts players in the electric clogs of Combot, a learning fighter robot. You’ll have the chance to take Combot through a series of progressively more difficult mini games, teaching combos and schooling players on what to do in specific scenarios.
Katsuhiro Harada explained his thoughts on this new feature to Eurogamer -
“To novice players, they’re playing various mini-games that we’ve prepared and enjoying them while gaining customisation items and techniques, then they’ve gone through the mode a certain amount, and they’ve gained more Tekken knowledge and ability in the game.”
Character customisation is back, as in previous instalments, however the system has been developed a lot more with over 30 items per character at your disposal. Some items will cause special actions during battle. For instance, if King is wearing a particular belt and you use a certain skill for your K.O. you’ll see a special winning sequence. You’re free to change any of the characters costumes, hair styles and items at your leisure. The colour of costumes can be changed in specific areas, as can the colour of your fighter’s hair, in addition to changing the front and back you can also change sideburns as well as equipping hair accessories.
As you would expect from a Tekken title, there are plenty of varied stages to choose from, including the initially pre-order only Snoop Dogg stage laden in solid gold dollar signs, flying cars and the man himself. This level is actually a highly entertaining place to stage a fight between Alex and Kuma (all rappers hold their own Dinosaur vs. Bear fights right?) much like Tekken 6 the stages are all walled allowing you to interact by throwing your opponent through certain areas breaking down into another level of the stage, this may seem like a small idea especially for a time in which games are built to be so complex but that satisfying feeling of body slamming your friend through the floor before finishing him with a tag assault is a brilliant addition.
So Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is shaping up to be everything you could want from the next instalment in the series, unfortunately I didn’t have the pleasure of trialling the online multiplayer aspect nor could I revel in the many hilarious and challenging mini games it had to offer, but if they’re half as good as everything else I have tried so far then open your wallets and lay down your notes quick! You’re going to want this game on launch day.