The King Of Iron Fist Tournament returns for another round
Fighting games have fallen out of favour recently, especially since the traitorous Street Fighter V launched on PS4 last year with half its content missing and then got knocked for a loop in the sales charts. Oh dear. Thankfully Tekken will step into the ring this June, sending its seventh main series entry in to show the competition who’s boss. It’s enjoyed a lot of success in Japanese arcades already, and is stepping things up for the upcoming console release.
The premise of Tekken 7 is simple: keep hitting things until they fall over and don’t get up again. As usual, all of the standard versus modes will be present, letting you go a few rounds with friends, or whoever’s silly enough to challenge you to a smackdown. There’s also story mode, which this time promises to be darker than ever, and to reveal where Tekken’s infamous Devil Gene actually comes from.
There are new characters and a few fresh mechanics thrown in for good measure. This time the game is all about getting in touch with your rage. When your health drops below a certain point you start to glow red, which gives you a slight boost in attack and unlocks your Rage Arts (basically super powerful moves). The lower you let your health dip, the more ferocious your Rage Art will be, so it’s up to you to decide whether the risk is worth it. If you do choose to use it early on, your Rage will be depleted for the rest of the fight.
Hits feel heavy yet responsive, and the dodging is appropriately quick. Surprisingly, for a fighting series that’s been around as long as this, it’s very approachable, and it’s easy to pull off swish combos. There’s also a lot of depth that allows more complicated play, taking advantage of characters falling, or breaking opponent combos. Even when taking control of slower characters, there are plenty of openings to step into and exploit.
Coming of rage
Each character and fighting style feels suitably different, so there’s plenty of variety in the roster. From the jaguarmasked King’s wrestling throws to Paul Phoenix’s heavy punches to Jin Kazama’s outlandish devil powers, it all feels at home on the same stage. Even when, as Panda, you’re wearing armbands and clawing the face off a girl who’s really a robot.
As well as a load of old favourites there are those aforementioned newcomers, including sprightly idol girl Lucky Chloe and mysterious ninja Master Raven. This entry also sees an addition to the famous Mishima clan – Heihachi’s wife Kazumi. She’ll play a central part in the story mode and take her place among the angry, revenge-fuelled family.
The one oddity is guest character Akuma from the Street Fighter series. He looks and feels fantastic, but his play style just doesn’t quite fit in here. With a long-range fireball and a hurricane kick he’s a real pain to fight against, especially when someone starts spamming all of his moves and you can’t get a look in. Tekken veterans may need to adjust wholesale to deal with him.
The Tekken team has clearly taken notes after Capcom’s mistakes with Street Fighter V, so everything will be ready to go from day one. The game has also been refined greatly since its arcade release in Japan, to make sure it all plays just right. From everything we’ve seen so far, Tekken 7 looks like a return to form for the series, and a must-have for fighting game fans.