14 Reviews

Tekken 6

Still fast, still furious

Balance is a delicate thing, so easily lost. Tekken is a series that thrives on it - on striking a balance between fulfilling its remit as the 'accessible' 3D fighting game (button-mashing will get you further here than in most fighters) and offering a system substantial and even enough to allow the hardcore fans to battle at a competitive level.

The PS2's Tekken 5 managed this balance with aplomb, but while Tekken 6 is ostensibly little more than a high-def update, its revisions (of which, to its credit, there are many) are likely to result in it receiving a rather lukewarm reception, from players both old and new.

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With 42 selectable characters, this is the most expansive Tekken yet. It's a roster size that nears Marvel vs Capcom territory, and although lapsed fans will find a number of familiar faces to cling to, newcomers might find the whole process a bit daunting. Doubly so, in fact, when they pause a fight to check out the command list expecting two flashy kicks and a dragon punch variant, only to be greeted with over 150 different moves of varying complexity. Hammering the attack buttons like a woodpecker on Red Bull still allows n00bs to pull off some flashy moves, but the real fun begins when you try to learn to play it properly, and the roster overkill is a barrier to that.

That's not really a flaw, but a fact that needs to be drawn to your attention. However, the game is far more culpable in how it might cheese off the long-term Tekken fan. The ability to juggle your opponent in mid-air with a combo has been cranked up a notch, and while the player on the receiving end can always counter, it can make for a frustrating experience, particularly if a skilled player takes you all the way to the wall, taking off as much as half of your energy in a matter of seconds.


Luckily, struggling players will always have a chance. The all-new Rage Meter significantly increases the player's attacking prowess once their lifebar dips below 5%, making for some frantic finales and tremendous turnarounds. It originally proved a controversial addition in the arcades, but after being toned down in the Bloodline Rebellion revision is an intriguing tactical addition, and even if you disagree, you can always fiddle around in the customisation mode.

The balance between the characters is variable, as it is in all fighting games, but the difference between best and worst is smaller and more surmountable than in Street Fighter IV. You can't just fall back on old favourites, either; the fighters who have survived the cut from Tekken 5 have, in some cases, changed dramatically. Take perennial fan favourite Yoshimitsu. In storyline terms, Yosh comes to realise that his famed energy sword is losing power and seals it away.

Stripped of his iconic blade, he becomes trickier to master - certainly not for beginners. The new additions to the series are a fairly likeable bunch. Bob is an American karate artist of some renown who went into hiding after a succession of defeats to larger opponents. He re-emerges now, proudly displaying his new, morbidly obese physique - all that blubber, you see, will allow him to go toe-to-toe with the bulkiest. (Or at least, that's his story.) He's Tekken's equivalent to SFIV's Rufus - not much to look at, but deceptively agile.

Although Tekken's true appeal is in multiplayer, there are plenty of single-player options to keep you going. The arcade mode is brief and is once again blighted with a final boss as cheap as Asda Smartprice chips, but is redeemed by a clever ranking system that allows you to earn promotion, ensuring that you always have an achievable goal.

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