If you were to ask me what one of my favourite games on the PS One was, it would easily be Tekken 3. I share very fond memories of getting mad because I suck at the game (and I still do, really). These memories only became more prevalent when I dug up the old PS One and booted up the old girl. Obviously, the game had aged horribly, but that didn’t stop me from loving every minute of it. As a result, most other fighting games just don’t do it for me; Tekken will always be my number one. I was recently invited into the lovely offices of Bandai Namco to play a hands-on preview of the next instalment into the Tekken series, Tekken 7. Given that I have been itching for a new Tekken game, I would be a fool to pass on this opportunity.
After making the commute to Bandai Namco, I was promptly seated in front of a sizeable TV display and a PS4 Pro. “Tekken 7”. Even the title screen got my adrenaline pumping. Obviously my lack of skills in Tekken 3 translated almost perfectly into Tekken 7 and (believe it or not) this pleased me greatly. But we’ll delve into that a little later. The first thing I was given access to was Tekken 7’s story mode, and while it felt kind of weird to be playing a story-driven campaign in a fighting game, I feel that it was done very well. For the sake of spoilers, I’m going to remain fairly vague about the events that occurred during my time playing the single player story mode. The overarching plot promises to be the conclusion of the infamous Mishima saga, namely the intergenerational feud between Heihachi and Kazuya, and it’s set to be a sizzler for Tekken fans.
First thing I noticed was Tekken 7’s solid approach to storytelling. The Tekken series has always been renowned as having quite an interesting lore and story (an often overlooked feature of a fighting game), and Tekken 7 seems to be building on this strength. Instead of it just being a regular campaign where the events normally unfold as you progress, the story is told by a third party, meaning someone who isn’t one of the main characters is the one recounting and piecing the story together with you. True to Tekken style, the story mode is punctuated by beautiful pre-rendered cutscenes which fill you in on the action. Even though what I played was only a small part of the whole story, I could also tell there were various nuances in its narrative and I cannot wait to get my hands on the full game on June 6th. I really hope that the story stays as strong throughout the rest of the game as it is in the small section that I played.
Now to move onto the multiplayer part. I played games against a couple of people and against the AI and I can safely say that Tekken is as fun as ever. The handful of moves that I knew back in Tekken 3 still worked and that familiarity definitely helped in playing the game. Old favourites like King and Yoshimtisu retained some of their abilities which made me feel ever so slightly less crappy at the game, but it’s clear there’ll be a substantial depth to the combat which is essential in this era of highly evolved fighting games. At a moderately quick glance, I could garner that there were 36 fighters to choose from – I’m assuming this is all of them as there were no empty tiles in the character select screen. For those that like the really cheesy and cheap characters, Eddy’s position is safe. He’s still incredibly obnoxious to fight, just like the good old days. For the most part, the characters were fairly balanced. Fighters that were quick and agile would have lighter hits but combos would occur more frequently. Slower characters hit harder and can have a harder time stringing combos together. Either way, skilled players and filthy casuals alike shouldn’t have a hard time finding fighters that they enjoy using.
Some cool additions that have been made in Tekken 7 are Rage Arts and Power Crushes. Rage Arts are like mega moves that you can use when your fighter’s health is getting low. A red particle effect will emanate from your character as well as your health bar will begin to flash red once you are able to do a Rage Art, but be careful because it is possible to block these and you can only use them once a round. Power Crushes are moves that aren’t interrupted by a mid or high attack, instead some of the damage is mitigated and your attack proceeds as if nothing happened. These moves can be stopped by using low attacks or grabs, so they’re not incredibly broken. For the Souls fans, the easiest way to explain this is that Power Crushes are essentially what Hyper Armour is, except with damage mitigation. Rage Arts are also Power Crushes and it is very possible to be KO’d when using them, so be wary.
In terms of visuals and performance, Tekken 7 appears to absolutely nail it. I know I go on and on about framerates in general, but stable framerates are an incredibly important part to fighting games. Dips in frames can give unfair advantages, especially when competing in online tournaments. Thankfully, while playing at 1080p, Tekken 7 remains at a stable 60fps. The only times frame drops ever occurred were in the loading screens and let’s be real, that’s quite forgivable as you’re not doing anything in those loading screens so there’s no way it could detract from the experience. Unreal Engine 4 has definitely earned its money as Tekken 7 looks fantastic. Particle and regular visual effects that occur when connecting hits on your opponents look great and there’s crystal-clear clarity. It should also be noted that Tekken 7 will be on PC and will run at 4K, so for those graphics whores out there, you know what to do.
Alongside all of this, Katsuhiro Harada had made his way down under and was at the Bandai Namco offices, so I was given the amazing opportunity to interview him in regards to Tekken 7. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “This is where he dictates the whole interview and it makes the article really long.” Normally you’d be right, however this time we have something special in store for you. Stay tuned for it!
Overall, Tekken 7 appears to be in top condition and I cannot wait for its full retail release on June 6th. If you’re a fan of fighters, I’d definitely put this on your radar. It’s also good to see that PC gamers aren’t left out, and peasants and mustard race alike will be able to find out who is the King of Iron Fist come June.