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1/26/2013

REVIEW: Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (Xbox 360)



After almost twelve years without a true sequel, fans that played, loved and competed in the first Tekken Tag Tournament game finally got a treat. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 comes out as a true and very deep 3D fighter that will cater the tastes of any good player out there. Twelve years is a lot of time and though a Tag game hasn’t come out since the original PS2 launch one, the Tekken series has seen a very large evolution with games like Tekken 4, 5, 6 and many reboots and patches improving the gameplay better and better.

Tekken Tag 2 takes the very best of every game and fuses it in a single, excellent-looking title that is very hard to compete against. It looks fantastic and tons of character, stages and modes to choose from so the game is sure to provide countless hours of fun to everyone. The game, just like its predecessor, focuses on tag teams, where each player choose two different characters and take on one another until one of them is KOed.

Namco seems to take the visual aspect of its fighting games very seriously, Soul Calibur V, which came several months before looked fantastic, and to me, it was only surpassed by Dead or Alive 5’s graphics but trust me when I say Tekken Tag 2 can stand its ground against those two in terms of visuals. The characters look fantastic, with tons of excellent textures, colors, lightning effects, anti-aliasing and many other things that, when combined, result in a very solid game visually.

Sadly, the animations for the fights themselves still seem to be stuck in the past, the PS1 years if I’m more exact. During all these years, mountains of different fighting games have been released for every console and most of them show the evolution of the animations of their characters when you compare the first and latest titles of each franchise. Tekken is the only one that seems to be stuck.

I’m very familiar with characters like Hwoarang or Law and to be quite honest, I don’t find much of an improvement when I compare those characters in Tekken 2 or 3 with the same ones in Tekken Tag 2. Of course, they look better graphically and the 60 frames-per-second are there but the animations feel dated.

This part sometimes can draw people away from the game to other franchises, and it’s really a shame because the game is quite good. It has a very solid movement and combo system that will provide players with limitless options if they invest time to learn the game. Just like in any respectable fighting game. Tekken Tag 2 has tons of ways to attack. Punches, kicks, throws, launchers, juggles, and combinations between a character and another to land a single damaging string of moves is the correct way of playing offensively. The game with the defensive game, where players can sidestep, backdash, crouch, block and punish mistakes to retake the offensive.

I’ve player most fighting games in my time and usually invest enough time with them to at least know and notice what happens in the screen and why and though Tekken is not my favorite franchise, I’ve got to say it’s definitely one of the deepest and most engaging, probably just below Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown.

In terms of sound, the game works fine for the most part. One of the new things introduced to the series is that now, every characters talks in the native language of the country they’re supposed to be from so you’ll be seeing Eddy speaking Portuguese, Hwoarang in Korean and Miguel in Spanish and so on. This is actually quite nice and fits perfectly into the game. Outside the voice-acting, which is OK for the most part, the game has several cartoony sounds for the punches, kicks and the rest of the things in the fights themselves that do a great job at making them feel more intense. The soundtrack is quite nice and catchy too, with many loops of different normal fighting game tunes going from different musical genres.

Gameplay-wise, Tekken Tag 2 is truly an amazing game. Though the animations of the characters fighting do feel quite dated if you’re familiar with their past versions and compare them to the same fighting styles in Dead or Alive or Virtua Fighter. Tekken Tag 2 is quite deep and offers great versions of every mechanic a competitive player would want in a true, solid 3D fighter.

Walls play an important part in combos, just like chaining strings together not only with a single character but changing to your companion as well. Choosing a good team is very important, and with a huge cast like this one, (Over 40 different fighters) finding a perfect team for your tastes will prove to be quite a challenge. The point of forming a team seems to be choosing two characters where one will nullify the other’s weaknesses so they can pretty much engage anyone. So you’ll often see high-level players mixing a grappler like King or Marduk with a faster-hitting fighter like Kunimitsu or Miharu.

For the most part, all characters are very strong and they all have tons of strengths and weaknesses. If a player learns how to use a character or team properly, he/she will be able to take on anyone consistently because most mechanics in the game are universal. All characters have punches, kicks, throws, blocking, side-stepping, etc and the point is to learn how to use each one correctly and how to fight against them.

The game offers many modes like Arcade, Survival, Time Attack and the usual things seen in a fighter’s offline modes. You can of course go to a training mode to test moves, combos and your defense. Sadly, this game doesn’t show frame data anywhere like VF5FS and DOA5 do so internet forums or a guide would be the best way to get a hold of that if anyone is interested. Training mode is quite useful though and lets you test whatever you choose.

Online multiplayer works fine for the most part. The netcode is good so it’s rare to find laggy matches where the delay makes things unplayable. Online players, like in any popular game go from the easiest novices to the pro players who will destroy you without any mercy. This mode is great to earn experience, learn and make friends inside what is a very cool community.

All modes usually earn the player some money to buy stuff to customize costumes for each character. All of them can be equipped with hats, shirts, pants, skirts, shoes and many other curious and funny-looking items. There are a lot of these and the ability to change colors for everything gives to opportunity to make any character look exactly how you want him/her to. It’s very similar to the same stuff seen in Soul Calibur V and Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown and it’s quite nice.

For closing comments, I can say that Tekken Tag 2 is an extremely solid and fun game and one of the best 3D fighters I’ve played in the last years. It has excellent graphics, a huge and awesome cast of characters to play as, nice music, modes to play and a solid netcode that will provide players with a great online experience. This game will hopefully see a lot of popularity in the coming years and it definitely deserves it. I recommend it 100%.


Pros:

-          Great visuals and sound.
-          Huge cast of solid characters.
-          Many modes to choose from.
-          Gameplay is deep and rewards practice and knowledge.
-          Great online netcode.


Cons:

-          Character animations feel kind of dated.
-          Training mode isn’t very good.


-          Graphics and Visuals…….…..9
-          Music and Sound Effects….....8
-          Gameplay……………………9
-          Replay Value………………..10


-          Overall Score……………….. 9 / 10

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