of the most successful and memorable fighting games of its time, the original Tekken
Tag Tournament (1999) reunited nearly every character in the franchise to
date, presenting an extravagant 39 playable characters and an engaging new
tag-team gameplay system. The highly anticipated sequel has finally graced our consoles,
packing over 50 dynamic fighters from
series history. Utilizing tried and true elements from past installments as a strong
foundation, the feature-rich console version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2
packs a punch.
I'd like to begin this review by talking about one of the things I love most
about Tekken. As far as fighting games go, besides Street Fighter...
Tekken is probably the "most consistent"
series in history. As someone who played the prequel (Tekken 6) regularly
up until TTT2's release, I get
to jump right in and start having fun immediately. With no learning curve
required, I can already use all of my favorite characters and combos just the way I
remember them. I don't have to completely "relearn" anything... I only
have to make a few small adjustments, note some move properties that changed,
get acquainted with new attacks & combos possibilities, and the rest is just gravy!
This idea of "slightly updated but not completely reinvented" gameplay
and characters has been a tradition of Tekken since its humble
beginnings, and the dedicated players around the world certainly appreciate it. The thing is, if
you haven't played a Tekken game in a while, special move commands you may
recall from the early days (Tekken 1/2/3) are most likely still the same!
This means that if you've ever played a Tekken game in your life, you at
least have a starting point if you're looking to get back into the game! Additionally, the updated Tag
System actually makes insanely-badass-looking juggles easier to learn and perform.
After 17 years, Tekken is
still delivering its brand of 3D fighting with style and finesse.
Just as it
did for Tekken 3 in 1999, the Tag mechanics add an entirely new
complexity to the staple gameplay
mechanics of Tekken 6.Due to the vast development of each character's moveset over the last decade, simply being able to
"swap out" fighting styles mid-fight (potentially to characters that
have a completelydifferent strategies and flow)
creates such a unique
competitive experience... even before we factor in the various new Tag
techniques & strategies themselves. Since TTT2 was released in
Asian arcades exactly 1 year before the console release, top players of Japan, Korea
and elsewhere had plenty of time to test the game, thus enabling Namco to
patch out bugs and overpowered combos in time for the console release. The
result is one of the most balanced (and fun) Tekken games to date.
Besides your basic tag-in/tag-out mechanics, TTT2's Tag Assault system enables your
partner to jump in during the midst of a combo to extend it with their own
flavor, opening the door to
potentially limitless combo possibilities and "combo mix-ups". This
really promotes what I like to call "combo creativity," which means
it's less likely to see the "same old combo" over and over again. The combo
"chemistry" between any given 2 characters alone equates to an amazing variety of
juggles. Factor in that there are over 1000 different team
combinations, and you can see how things can get a little crazy.
Once you comprehend the combo "sandbox" that Tekken Tag 2 provides, you may start to daydream about combos
when you're not playing. (The cool part about that is, many of those combos
you conjure up may actually end up working!)
To balance things out, using Tag Assault
gives up your tagged out character's "red life" (which otherwise can be recovered while on the
sidelines). This means players have to strategize and balance out the risk/reward of Tag Assault.
Another new technique, Tag Crash, enables your partner to enter the fight
safely, but also sacrifices red life. Building upon Tekken 6's wall game and floor-break system, TTT2
throws breakable balconies into the mix. After a character knocks their opponent through a
balcony, their teammate can continue the combo on the ground below, or set up a
powerful (or strategic) follow-up attack. Although Tekken
arguably "borrowed" the idea of multi-tiered stages from the DOA series,
the straight-forward gameplay of Tekken still dominantly takes priority.
To a casual onlooker, the constant back-and-forth air juggles in Tekken may
(still) seem silly,
intimidating, and/or overpowered. The truth is... juggles (still) aren't everything.
As always, players with superior movement & spacing
abilities, sidestep timing, and mix-up strategies will claim more victories.
There's also still an important place for those single-hit, powerful knock-back
techniques, sweeping & footsies, wake-up game, ground game, and throws... yeah, I said it....
THROWS!!! You better learn how to break throws, because the all new tag
throws are just too awesome not to perform.
An awesome variety of hard-hitting, and occasionally hilarious tag-team throw techniques
become available when using specific team combinations. Not only are the
animations for these tag throws awesome, but the respective "throw
break" animations for successfully defended throws are pure entertainment. Additionally,
(returning from TTT1 & T6) also functions depending on the
"relationship" of your characters... more specifically, whether or not they currently "like" each other.
a character is paired up with someone that likes them, their Netsu will be
activated earlier than with someone that dislikes them (check out the TTT2
Allegiance Chart for more information on this system).
Get ready for brutal tag team throws... and epic escape animations!
While learning and memorizing a character's 100+ moves can be a daunting task
and surely intimidating for a beginner... it's best to keep in mind
that we all had to start somewhere when we first learned how to
Unlike SC5, character movesets haven't been streamlined or downsized.
Instead, returning T6 characters have been given anywhere between 3 to
10 new moves. Other classics making their next-gen debut, like: Jun Kazama,
Jinpachi, Kunimitsu & Ogre have a multitude of new moves/animations...
they're entirely new characters when it comes down to it, but also share some
recognizable attacks from other fighters (making the overall learning curve just a
little easier). Casual players should also keep in mind that you're not
required to learn all the moves or characters to enjoy the game. Fighting
against the diverse martial artists of Tekken should be rewarding in and of
itself (especially when you play against players that know what they're doing).
The animation of Tekken remains one of the game's strongest visual
achievements. As always, you can really "feel the power" of those
hard-hitting martial arts techniques, not only thanks to the smooth animation, but also in part to the classic "4
buttons assigned to 4 limbs layout," intuitively making button commands cleverly "feel" like the moves you're
performing. Real life martial artists know what I'm talking about.
In the visuals department, TTT2 presents a complete graphical overhaul
from Tekken 6. Every single character and facial model was redone from the
ground up. Overall, the game has a "sharper" visual appearance than
its predecessor. As someone who pays very close attention to detail,
I can tell that Namco had to cut some corners to allow 4 characters on
screen at once (with no drop in frame rate at all). With that said, character
models have slightly less rendering than those in Tekken 6. While
character anatomy seems ever-so-slightly streamlined and some clothing
textures appear fuzzy up close, superior shading and skin textures
actually give characters a more
realistic, "fleshy" appearance. The convincing shine on
certain parts of clothing and armor, paired up with pleasantly exaggerated stage
lighting effects on
stages, actually makes characters appear sharper during gameplay than their predecessors in
While a beautiful and noticeably sharp game visually, TTT2
does suffer from aliasing (on both systems). Those unsightly jaggy edges are noticeable primarily on dark stages, and on characters with
lots of fine details. Thankfully, once the fighters are in motion, it's hard to
notice (and once
again "motion blur" can be turned on/off). Thankfully, aliasing
is hardly noticeable at all on the brighter stages, where the vivacious lighting
effects steal the show. The 30+ distinctive background environments are
interesting, moody, energetic (thanks in part to the killer BGMs), and possibly offer the
best variety I've ever seen in a fighting game!!!
Many stages feature
interactive elements like sand, dirt, and water. The visual appearance of
moisture and dirt on the fighters doesn't only look
great, but is actually done in real time. Whatever part of a character's bodytouches
the ground will be effected by the environment. For instance, if a character's left
knee touches the muddy ground, only that knee will have dirt on it. Pretty
Brand new character models from head to
toe... no extra charge for the facial expressions.
Returning from the previous 3 installments,
Customization Mode once again evolves. With over 50 characters to
customize and an exceedingly generous 10 creation slots per character, this
mode will keep you busy! Once you learn your way around the clunky menu, you'll find TTT2's
customize options better than they may seem at first. It actually took me a week
before I figured out how to customize each hairstyle with bangs,
sideburns & other accessories... because it's kind of a ridiculous process.
(You have to buy the hair first,
equip it, take a snapshot, then return
to the Shop, where 2 new hair menus will magically appear!)
There are indeed more hair options than in Tekken 6, but unfortunately there
are limits in other areas. This time, hand/foot gear are
paired with specific tops/bottoms, with no option to swap them out.
While that's an obvious downgrade from T6, there are other aspects of
TTT2's customization that succeed the prequel's.
Utilizing a similar layout to SC5, nearly all
clothing items and default outfits can now be colorized with a full-spectrum color palette. It's actually an improvement over SC5's, because it
automatically saves specific colors as you use them. For instance, let's say I found the perfect
shade of purple for a jacket. That exact color will become selectable at
the bottom of the screen; so if you want to add matching purple sunglasses & pants, it
takes 3 seconds to do so.
You can also permanently save 16 colors for quick access. As someone who's fond of most characters' default outfits, the new Color
Edit option stands on its own as an excellent new feature in TTT2.
Customization offers some other exciting tools, such as: Versus screen panels featuring
awesome character artwork that you can set to show up for your characters on the
VS screen, hundreds of customizable a decals & logos you can add to
clothing, heaps of
ridiculous odd items & weapons (many which fighters actually hold in their
hands) that enable the use of extra moves, taunts, etc. There are a ton of
service" items as well... just to name a few: decals, banners & flags featuring 8-bit Tekken
characters and even old school Namco icons, Pac-Man and Dig Dug (one of my
favorite games as a kid).
The best part is, you're constantly unlocking new
content as you play, adding a ton of replayability. Lastly, Customize also
allows you to save your preset teams with specific customizations (up to 10).
While there are a number of cool-looking items to unlock in Customize, some of
the clothing items look too bulky and stiff. Generic T-shirts
and pants seem to oddly warp "around" the characters instead of
fitting them properly. They're also graphically ugly, right along with some of
the eerily plain 2P costumes (which I think would've been better left out of the game).
With that said, there's a strange and noticeable graphical contrast
between clothing items. On one hand, you have Anna's bikini top, which is so
detailed that you can literally see the
bikini tight on her skin... and on the other hand, boxy shirts that don't look like they fit the characters properly.
The only other
complaint I have is that load times are pretty long in customize. Nitpicking aside, at
the end of the day I found myself happy with
a lot of my character's customizations!
Lee Chaolan's *ehem*...
Violet's humorous antics in Fight Lab bring the LOLs.
Hosting the epic return of Violet & Combot from Tekken 4, Fight
Lab is your "Tekken Tutorial for Dummies". While being run through
the fundamentals of Tekken, players will experience many laughable moments that hardly
make sense, but are sure to entertain. All the while, you're constantly
earning Fight Money & Combot Tuning points (used to customize your
very own version of Combot)! In Combot Tuning Mode, you can purchase and unlock attacks from all of the
other fighters (which have the same familiar move commands). You can also fully
customize Combot visually in Customize Mode! Once your Combot is
ready, you can select him as a normal character and face off against your friends in Versus, or even take on online opponents
(in non-ranked matches). I personally think Fight Lab was a brilliant way to
re-introduce Combot... I've been waiting for him to make a comeback for years.
While Fight Lab is a pretty fun play through, I wish it had a bit more
substance. I don't think it teaches beginners nearly enough of what they need to
know for competitive gameplay.
With that said, there's still no actual "Tutorial" in TTT2. However, the
new and improved Training Mode
is your Tutorial!
with previous Tekken games, Command Training conveniently demonstrates every move
in the game (besides the secret hidden ones).
You can also choose to train with move commands on-screen, or
not. Attacks that allow tagging, bound, and sidestep homing moves now display icons for easy reference! Advanced Settings
let you control the training dummy's actions in a variety of ways, and even in a
specific order. The record
function can be used in a variety of ways in training, and is an incredibly useful tool for
serious players. As always, there are several sample combos per character to get
you started with a new character, and if
that's not enough, the Tekken community on Youtube has you covered the rest of
the way! Any mainstream review declaring TTT2 lacks a Tutorial Mode, or that
Namco isn't doing enough to help new players (IGN) are simply brain-dead. What's
that old quote? "You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make
2-on-2... 2-on-1... and
1-on-1 battles! Choose your strategy.
that this review is kind of long, but you can blame Namco for packing so much damn content into
this game! TTT2 comes packed with all the staple modes: Team
Battle, Survival, Time Attack, and Pair Play Mode (with up to 4 human players).
You can even pair up with a local friend and test your skills online against
other players. Unfortunately, you can't pair up with a player online though.
Thanks to the generous allotted time given when activating Tag Assault after a bound, tag
combos in Pair Play are actually relatively easy to connect! While playing TTT2
with my girlfriend (whom isn't a serious player), I was astonished that we were
able to perform full-length tag combos time and time again. With a little more
practice... she could be tournament-ready.
Tekken Tunes is one of my favorite new modes, and certainly one of the most innovative
extra modes to ever appear in a fighting game! In Tekken Tunes, you can select
ANY music currently on your console and set them as in-game BGMs for stages and
various menus. Future DLC containing past
Tekken soundtracks was also be
made available for purchase if you want to go the nostalgia route.
I find it a bit sad that many "mainstream" reviews of Tekken Tag 2
didn't even mention this mode, as if it didn't exist. It shouldn't be
overlooked, because Tekken Tunes is an awesome, timeless feature that really
extends the life of the game. Following in line with past console installments, TTT2
also features Theater Mode which allows you to
view content such as past endings & intros, and listen to soundtracks from
prequels - Another solid mode!
As far as presentation goes, Namco did the majority of things right. In Arcade
Mode, every single character in the game has a full-length ending movie (each
around 1-2 minutes long). I actually can't remember the last time I was
actually satisfied with so many character endings in a fighting game.
Although TTT2 isn't a "story driven" game (by design), most endings
contain a lot of heart and fan service. The only thing I think Namco did wrong with Arcade Mode was the fact that
opponents are customized (and they went overboard on many of them). Hey Namco... I don't want to
fight Ganryu with a pink mohawk or Raven with a cowboy
hat & wings in Arcade Mode.
Goofball opponents like that should've been left for Ghost Battle, and these
ugly customizations alone will probably turn off a few casual players who are
expecting a well thought out "1-player experience". On the bright side,
the silly custom characters won't show up in Time Attack or Pair Play mode. One
more gripe I have about Arcade Mode is that rank promotion icons
are way too large, and awkwardly interfere with the pre-fight character intros.
After 17 years, Tekken is still
delivering its unique brand of 3D fighting with style, finesse, and innovation. Even if you're not a
long time Tekken fan or dedicated player, you should still be able to respect
the effort producer Harada and Namco packed into this title. If you're somehow expecting
more content than what is found in this game, you'll probably never be
happy... because TTT2 is the most complete fighting
game package released in a long time.
Namco brought back tons of classic characters in TTT2, leaving even
the "nitpicky" Tekken fans with nothing fathomable to complain about. While
some of the "less-popular" returning characters like Forest Law, P. Jack, Angel, and Alex have similar movesets to other fighters, they all present a respectable
variety of their own unique moves. Calling them "clones" would be
inaccurate... and they actually offer much more distinction from their related
characters than the likes of Street Fighter's Ryu and Ken, for example. In a clever
way, Namco also gave the classic characters some "old school moves"
(with updated animations) from earlier versions of the movesets... yet another
fan service that veteran players will immediately appreciate.
While some fighting games of this era controversially incorporate "simplified" mechanics
to appeal to beginners, TTT2 keeps the formula that has proven successful
in the past - "rewarding players who put the time and practice in". Tekken is, and
always has been, a hardcore
player's realm first and foremost. While some video game reviewers (with limited fighting game
knowledge and abilities) may view this as a bad thing, it's anything but in the
long term. An elaborate presentation and perfect graphics won't make a
fighting game last for years... the gameplay will. And that's exactly what TTT2
delivers, with style. TTT2's gameplay system was built to last. Learn the ropes...
and quit button mashing... or get knocked the F%@& out. End of story.
Casual players will never understand why Tekken's
"extreme" juggle system is so widely accepted by hardcore players. Why
have juggles become so ridiculously long? I'll tell you why. Namco has kept
a formula in place since the early days, allowing returning players to perform
combos they remember. For instance, if a player wants to try a combo they remember from Tekken 3 or
5, chances are, they can perform that exact same combo in TTT2.
Players can use that knowledge as a solid starting point and adjust accordingly as they learn
better options. Instead of removing combo
possibilities from the game and forcing you to relearn everything, Namco has extended the hits allowed in a
combo. This also makes room for some of the most stylishly badass tag
combos ever seen in a fighting game.
While you'll need a lot more than juggles in your arsenal to win in high level competition, TTT2's
new tag-based combo system is brilliantly designed, offering literally endless
room for creativity. I can't think of another fighting game combo system that
gives you so many tools and options, and features a considerably
balanced, huge character roster. In my experience, the only other game that
achieves this feeling is MVC2 (minus the balance). The tradeoff is, of
course, the existence of some very mean, very damaging combos and tactics.
Sadly, TTT2's openness for creativity leads some players to rely on
gimmicks (that actually work sometimes).
Although TTT2 is awesome, I must nitpick on some things. When TTT2 was first
announced, I already knew we'd have to say goodbye to the 8-second "Tekken
Namco probably took them out due to the unavoidable character disappearing and clipping. With drastically shortened instant replays (strangely, even shorter than in TTT2: Prologue),
no longer can we observe a different angle of the finesse that
characters put into their moves (which does provide an immensely better
appreciation of the animation quality). I definitely wish the replays were longer. Lastly, there's a weird
blurring effect that occurs during team win poses... I wish they could've
cleaned that up, along with the aliasing.
In fighting game terms, it just doesn't get much better in terms of content and
gameplay quality. If you're looking for a completely reinvented game of Tekken,
you're not going to find that here. "What isn't broken, doesn't need to
be fixed." There's a reason why they don't change the rules of
baseball... and there's a reason why learning how to play the piano is
difficult. If you put the time and proper practice in, like in any quality
fighting game, you will be rewarded (even in later sequels). Thanks to Namco's consistency, there's no doubt
scene will be supported for many years to come.
ONLINE / WORLD TEKKEN FEDERATION
Since I was frequent to the online lobbies of Tekken 5: DR and Tekken
6 for years, I certainly had my hopes up for TTT2's Online Mode. TTT2's
netcode is based on Soul Calibur 5's (which was rather good), but is
Simply put, matches over PSN are incredibly solid, and one of the all
time best experiences I've had playing a fighting game online. Gameplay feels
responsive and smooth 95% of the time, and since TTT2 is a faster game than SC5,
you can really notice it. Disconnections and network errors also happen much less frequently than
in past Namco fighting games. TTT2's netcode is just stellar, even when playing against
friends far across the country!
TTT2's Online Mode packs some great features like Tekken Channel, where you'll
find tons of Replay Save options. There's also a nifty Online Practice
Mode while you wait for a random opponent, and even Online Practice Mode with 2
players! Replays (and
Practice Mode) now feature handy on-screen indicators that inform you when a Punish
or Counter occurs... yet another fine detail that assists players looking to
analyze and improve their game. Disconnection rates will also show up for online opponents,
so players can easily avoid facing those dishonorable rage quitters (thanks Namco)!
In addition, you have the staple online Leaderboards, Ranked & Player Matches.
And I have to say, Namco did a great job with the rank matching system. When
your characters are low rank, you actually fight low ranks... and when your
characters are high ranks, just watch out!
Namco innovates with
real-time online stats tracking & team integration!
One of the
best part about Online Mode... Namco also integrated an innovative (and free) online statistics tracking service
into TTT2 called World Tekken Federation. This
social community platform tracks incredibly in-depth personal statistics,
and can be easily accessed from any PC or mobile device. It displays your
win/loss ratio, detailed history of your last 20 fights, the ranks of all of the
characters you use online, character usage stats, and more! It's even updated in
real-time (usually), which is pretty darn cool.
In addition, you can create or join a team, and earn points as you play Ranked Match to
rank up your team. As your team progresses through the ranks, new icons for your
team's "emblem" become available (which also shows up in the game).
Each team profile page on WTF includes a forum, and compares stats with team members.
In closing, World Tekken Federation offers unparalleled detail in the competitive
game genre, setting a new standard for the all-important online
experience... the icing on the cake to a truly great game. Sadly, the WTF
service closed down in Q3 2013 due to the high cost. It was fun while it