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Tekken 7: Day 1 Edition

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Studio Inc.
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Fighting/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Is there a genre that hasnít yet been blessed by the sheer awesomeness of 2017? Seriously, this has already been a tremendous year for video gaming, and nearly every base has been covered Ė well before the annual holiday deluge. Fighting games are no exception. Sandwiched between two high-profile superhero brawlers is the latest - and frankly, best - in one of the longest-running 3D fighting series to date. Tekken 7 may be an occasionally inconsistent work of iteration, but itís undeniably a love letter to the franchise faithful.

Bizarre yet distinctly identifiable character models, special visual cues for blocked and landed attacks of varying power, and deliberate, weighty animation work? Yep, this is a Tekken game. Being the first in the series to appear on current hardware, it should go without saying that this is the best-looking entry to date. In terms of style, Tekken 7 tries new things; some work, while others donít. Letís start with the good. When something amazing happens during a fight, the game clearly knows it. Once in a while, a particularly well-timed blow (finishing or otherwise) results in a panning freeze-frame shot at the moment of impact. Itís immensely satisfying to be on the delivering side of one of these, but if youíre the receiver, it gives you a moment to regroup and rethink your strategy moving forward. Less successful is the hand-drawn aesthetic that accompanies the interludes between chapters, though that may be more due to the utter dullness of the cutscenes themselves.

In Tekken 7, characters speak to each other in their native tongue, whether or not they are responded to in kind. Itís strange to hear individuals smoothly conversing in English, Japanese, and Italian, but honestly, it works. It brings some local color to the proceedings, which are often incomprehensibly weird. The soundtrack gets the job done without really blowing you away, and sound effects are impressively concussive. Itís an even match with the visuals, which arenít best in class, but certainly no slouch.


I get that every fighting game has to have a Story Mode, but as of this writing, most of the stuff weíve seen has been either really amazing or reallyÖ not. That changes with Tekken 7ís, which alternates between being raucously entertaining (in a "wtf did I just watch?" kind of way) and straight-up painful. You see, this final chapter in the long-running saga of the embattled Mishima clan is presented as viewed through the eyes of an investigative journalist, and his disinterested, tedious delivery clashes with the ridiculous melodrama to horrific effect. Perhaps, as is so often the case, Iím succumbing to culture shock, and Iím just not "getting it." But come on. This game literally opens with series big bad Heihachi hurling his son Kazuya off a cliff, and within twenty minutes, has us fighting against a pink haired android with chainsaw hands whose head falls off at the slightest touch. The human element is so far removed from the overarching conflict that it doesnít even bear mentioning. Of course, this may be a little much: as far as I can tell, nobody is interested in the characters and lore of this universe. We really just want to see them kick each otherís asses. Tekken 7 obliges at every turn and is at its best when itís poking fun at itself. Lord knows thereís enough to go around.

If youíve played a Tekken game before, you should have a very good idea of what to expect. It doesnít make any significant departures from the original formula, and itís got that classic Tekken feel. Save for the blocky character models of the original games, this is as close to a modern throwback as it can get. And I absolutely love it when a game is able to feel both classic and modern at the same time. Tekken 7 accomplishes that and makes it look easy at the same time.

Tekken 7 is robust and complete, in keeping with the genreís best modern trends. Modes, features, and diversions abound here, resulting in an experience that feels like itís equal parts a culmination of everything that is Tekken and a celebration of it. Whether you want to take your fighting online or not, the gameís got you covered.


Outside of official tournament play, most matches of games in this series (that Iíve seen, at least) have been complete toss-ups. Itís not at all unheard of for someone whoís never played the game to just randomly and accidentally wipe the floor with an avid fan. Tekken 7, however, is decidedly difficult from the off. Thereís a particular rhythm entwined within the complexities of its systems, and you are either in total sync with it or on tilt.

Computer-controlled combatants are in sync with this rhythm all the time, and at times, this leads to moments of agonized frustration. Your opponents are never above spamming the same attack over and over until the fight is over. As long as it works, theyíre fine with a dull fight. For my part, I consider this a deeply-ingrained flaw in the system that, at this point, cannot be fixed without fundamentally changing the game. It is quintessentially Tekken, but that doesnít mean I have to like it.

Game Mechanics:

Bandai Namcoís stable of 3D fighting games have a similar feel, and this all starts with how attacks are mapped to the buttons. If you think of each button as an extension of a specific limb, youíll have a generally decent idea of where you can go from there. Mind you, landing combos and juggling airborne opponents is just as much about perfect timing as it is about understanding each characterís command list. And considering that Tekken 7ís roster is about as wildly diverse as it gets, you may have some learning to do. But even after all these years, some things just never needed to change.

Tekken 7ís difficulty factor is slightly mitigated by the Story Assist, a special prompt that acts as a shortcut to a handful of incredibly powerful attacks. Some are combos, others single strikes, but all are effective in their own way. Theyíre fun to mix into your usual repertoire, and they can serve as a way out of some of the Story Modeís more difficult encounters.

A special resource called Rage powers a couple of Tekken 7ís mechanics. The Rage Art is the equivalent of a Hyper Combo, Supermove, etc. Rage Drives are more measured uses of Rage, and can be used to buff attacks. Landing these attacks can give you a huge advantage, and theyíre satisfying to pull off.

I love it when fighting games involve some element of risk and reward. Weíve seen it numerous times from the likes of Capcom, NetherRealm, and Team Ninja. In Tekken 7, we have the Power Crush, which bears resemblance to Street Fighter IVís Focus Attack in that it allows you to absorb some stagger-free damage while simultaneously preparing a devastating attack. I wouldnít consider it a tide-turner for those whose backs are perpetually up against the wall (or the floor), but itís a well-implemented out when executed properly.

Thereís a real sense of history and completeness to this package that is impossible to understate. Take, for instance, the concept of Fight Money and treasure. Hardly novel; you play the game, and over time you earn rewards. Yet, itís there when it could have done well enough without. It just comes across as contributing to the completeness of the game.

If you purchase Tekken 7: Day 1 Edition, you get a copy of Tekken 6, which is backwards compatible on Xbox One. Thatís the major draw, but you also get Eliza, the vampire chick who made her debut in Tekken Revolution. Itís all good stuff.

If youíre not a Tekken fan now, itís time to come to grips with the fact that you will never be one. If you are, however, Tekken 7 is an easy buy that will likely delight you.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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