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Tekken 7 Review – Tekken is Back

Tekken 7
Bandai Namco Entertainment

Okay, I’ll just come right out and admit it—I’ve had a long and heated romance with fighting games throughout my whole life. Ever since I first started playing Street Fighter 2 back in 1991 I was hooked. But even though I loved SF 2 and its little pixilated 2D sprites, I’d often wondered—what if someone came up with a fighting game which played out in 3D?

Even though Virtua Fighter came along a couple of years later in 1993, I didn’t get the chance to play it. Considered to be the “grandfather of 3D fighting games” Virtua Fighter is considered to be the first 3D fighting game in the history of video games. But instead, my first 3D fighting game experience was with the original Tekken, which released back in 1994.

What I liked so much about Tekken (plus its sequel Tekken 2 in 1995) was that it seemed to have a backstory that was a little more serious in tone, overall, than most other fighting games. I also liked Tekken’s characters more than Virtua Fighter’s, along with the fact that many of them were based on classical fighting styles such as Karate and Kung Fu. For instance, for the first time I could have dream match between SF’s Ryu and Bruce Lee, articulated through Tekken’s Kayuza Mishima and Marshall Law, a contest between the masters of Karate and Kung Fu respectively.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about the early Tekken titles were that the movement speed seemed a little slower and more deliberate, making for more tactical, in-depth, and stylistic fights. The characters also didn’t seem as floaty as the ones in Virtua Fighter, they seemed more weighty and substantial. Each Tekken character’s movement list also dwarfed any other fighting game on the planet, and still does to this day.

When I used to play games on consoles, I remember playing Tekken 3 (my favorite up till now) religiously. Fellow gamer-geek buddies and I would get together and play it for hours and hours, and many pizzas were gobbled up and Mountain Dews quaffed during those all-too-fun days of yore.

But when I gave up console gaming to become a full-time PC gamer, Tekken sort of slipped off of my radar since its developers had decided not to develop any of their Tekken titles for the PC. Sadly, since then I’ve had to watch video clips in order to get my Tekken fix. But that has all changed. Bandai Namco Entertainment surprised everyone last year by announcing that the latest edition of their flagship fighter, titled Tekken 7, would be released on PC in all of its splendid, fighting-goodness glory. But was it worth the wait? Read on…

First of all, I hadn’t even known that this was the first Tekken game to be released in a whole five years. Tekken 7 originally debuted in South Korean and Japanese arcades in 2015, and many fans of the series declared it as the greatest of the fabled fighting franchise. Its backstory involves finding and getting to the bottom of the mystery behind the Devil Gene that has plagued the Mishima clan, as well as bringing to a close the final chapter of the Mishima’s internecine familial squabbles.

I must say that I was initially blown away by Tekken 7’s absolutely massive character roster—chock-full of extremely varied types of fighters. Of course what Tekken game would be complete without your classic characters such as Kazuya, King, Nina, and Marshall Law? Not only can you play your old standbys but there are a veritable plethora of new faces that have been added to the mix (especially for someone who hasn’t played since Tekken 3!).

Brazilian newcomer Katarina fights in the French Savate style and is easier to pick up and play for amateurs, while Lucky Chloe, an anime-inspired cosplayer, uses acrobatics and highly fluid dance-like moves. Along with other newcomers Gigas, Claudio, Josie, Shaheen, and Master Raven, even the most hardcore of Tekken stalwarts will have fun experimenting with their new fighting styles. The star of the attraction however, is Street Fighter’s Akuma, whom has been articulated very smoothly into Tekken’s 3D environs.

Tekken 7 also sports some really nifty customization options. For instance, I’m a big Jin Kazuya fan, and so was able to re-envision him as the ultimate Karate master complete with a more traditional, slightly off-white Karate gi. The game also features your usual modes such as Arcade and VS, as well as a cool new one called Treasure Battle where you can unlock new gear for your characters by beating increasingly difficult AI opponents.

Luckily, the Training mode is back for people new to the series, or for those who wish to practice with some of the newer characters. And if you ever grown tired of the game’s single player features, you can always dive into what I consider to be the real meat of the game—its amazing online multiplayer mode. Tekken 7 packs a surprisingly robust network code. I never experienced a single hiccup or lag spike in any of my online games, so was able to watch my multiplayer battles fought out in silky smooth 60+ frames per second.

There are three new additions to Tekken 7’s core combat mechanics: Rage Arts, Rage Drives, and Power Crushes. Rage Arts can be activated once a character’s life bar gets below 25% and if unblocked, can deliver a spectacularly cinematic special attack. Rage Drives are similar, but aren’t accompanied by the bombast of the Rage Arts. However, you can follow up with combo moves with Rage Drives, making them seemingly more practical than Rage Arts. Power Crushes ignore incoming attacks and will deliver their damage regardless, making them excellent punishers to button-mashers. These awesome mechanics make it possibly for some truly incredible comebacks.

As far as graphics go, Tekken 7 really shows off the power of the Unreal 2 engine. Simply put, even though the game’s been out for a couple of years it looks absolutely stunning. Not only are the stages highly detailed and beautiful to behold, but you can actually smash your opponent through some of their barriers, only to fall into some equally gorgeous secondary areas. The characters themselves look almost life-like, and as each battle progresses you’ll even witness the various fighters begin to sweat. This is the best looking fighting game I’ve seen so far.

Sadly, a few classic characters didn’t make the cut, including Lei Wulong, Bruce, and Marduk, but perhaps Bandai Namco are planning to release them as DLC. I’d happily pay for them if so.

In all, Tekken 7 delivers unparalleled 3D fighting fun. Its huge assortment of characters, truly diverse move sets, brilliantly executed combat system, and staggering visuals make it a no-brainer for any fighting fan, as well as the hardcore elite of the fighting game genre. I know that at least for me, Tekken 7 will be occupying space on my hard drive for a long time to come.

SCORE: 88%

Tekken 7 offers some amazing graphics that match its martial arts tournament theme. However, you have to have a pretty fast gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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