Tekken 7 Review

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[WARNING OF SPOILERS AHEAD. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON PLAYING THE GAME. OTHERWISE, ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. THANK YOU]
I make no lie of being a huge fan of the Tekken series – if you’re a consistent reader of my blog and/or watcher of my YouTube channel, then I talk about it a lot.
This is how much I love it: if anyone asks me what franchise I would take with me to a desert island – before the words are even out of their mouth – my answer is Tekken.
So, understandably, I was really excited about Tekken 7 when it was announced earlier this year. I pre-ordered the Special Edition for PC and the PS4 version as well (due to extra content available). It’s been around 2 or 3 weeks since it was released, and I’ve been playing it no-stop. So, what did I think of it?
Rather than commenting on Presentation, Soundtrack, Story/Gameplay and Overall Experience like I usually do for reviews, I’m just going to do small reviews for each aspect of the game. And yes, because I’m a fan girl, I am going to go into detail.

The Story Mode

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This was the part of the game I was most excited for – after Tekken 6‘s story mode Scenario Campaign, it left me with so many questions and was definitely open for expanding the story (especially after the post-credits scene). This time, the format was slightly changed as there are 2 Story Modes – The Mishima Saga, which follows the battle between the Mishimas which has been prolonging for decades and then Character Episodes.

As I mentioned, the Mishima Saga follows Heihachi and Kazuya’s ongoing battle against eachother. After Jin is missing from his fight with Azazel, Nina briefly takes over the Mishima Zaibatsu, until Heihachi turns up, defeats Nina and takes over the Zaibastu again. The story follows a reporter who has a personal vendetta against the Zaibastu and Jin Kazama after his home town is destroyed and his family killed as casualties of the ongoing war.

You play as many different characters in different scenarios as the story progresses. The fights are fun and the way it is presented is very reminiscent of Soul Calibur V‘s Story Mode with drawn and unmoving cuts scenes, to full-fledged animated cutscenes (it makes sense as Tekken’s director Katsuhiro Harada also works on the Soul Calibur Project). The visuals are fantastic (both PC and PS4), with very little jarring (there was sometimes a brief pause between a cutscene going into gameplay, but apprently it’s fine running on the PS4 Pro). However, on the PC version, the scenes would occasionally glitch with speech over speech and pausing, forcing it to catch up. Also, there were quick time events (QTEs) which sometimes felt weren’t necessary along with being able to use guns, but only in one scene. Yes, Tekken Force and Scenario Campaign use guns, but this scene with Lars rescuing Jin was fiddly for me, as the gun controls where the same as punches, so I often drew out the gun when I didn’t want to.

The story was great and definitely answered a few questions about the Mishima family but the reporter as the narrator made it a little bland as he used the same tone all the time (even when he shouted at Heihachi). There was just no emotion, despite him being given a tragic backstory.

The second Story Mode was Character Episodes – these followed characters who did not make an appearance in the Mishima Saga (apart from Nina and Devil Jin). Unlike the usual Story Mode of previous games that usually have 7 battles that include a pre-fixed battle, followed by an ending, these Episodes only had one fight followed by the ending, which were only a few minutes long. It was lack luster and gave alternatives to endings depending on who won the fight (apart from Shaheen, Miguel and Eliza – they had episodes all to themselves). The Tekken comedy is there and I would rate it poorly, however it did give more insight into the Tekken lore, which I think saved it.

Overall, I believe the Story Mode is what the Tekken production team were mainly focused on and sold the game the most, however it was lacking and fairly short (you can play the Mishima Saga in the space of 2 hours or so. You’ll probably need another hour to complete all the Character Episodes). I understand that this is a fighting game – there isn’t really meant to be a story, and even if there is, and it’s not great (apart from the Story Mode in Tekken 5 – that was amazing with the small interludes), however Scenario Campaign was much longer, so I expected the same.

Overall, the Story Mode – for me at least – is the selling point of the game, and will it was enjoyable and added more lore, it was still lacking.


Arcade Mode

The Tekken series is known for it’s Arcade Mode – especially for Tekken 5 as it added ranks to the system – however for Tekken 7 – as Caddicurus said in his review – is actually pretty pathetic.

You have 5 stages – 2 of which are fixed battles of Heihachi as a sub-battle then Kazumi or Akuma – then that’s it. No cutscenes, no ending, no nothing. And to add further damage, you can only rank up to 1st Dan within Arcade Mode, whereas in 5 and 6, you were able to conquer your way all the way up to Tekken God.

I don’t think I need to say any more – well actually, I can’t. There’s not much to go with, apart from – if you’re like me, you what Fight Money for Customization and rank every character up to 1st Dan.


Ranked Matches and Tournaments

Despite being 2 separate modes, I’m putting them together for one simple reason – neither of them work properly.

Ranked Matches allows you to go against anyone else in the world and put yourself in a category (there’s only 7). Once the fight is over – that’s it. No option to rematch, just go back to the menu.

The Tournament Mode, however, is a new mode – this allows 8 players to battle it out and become a champion (no, this does not effect your ranking). Even if you’re knocked out of a round, you go up against other losers to become King of the Losers (in the literal sense, not the bullying sense). And naturally, you win fight money.

These modes are great if you’re more of a competitive player of Tekken, that’s if the Online Modes actually work. On all three platforms – PC, PS4 and Xbox One – none of the Online stuff seems to work. Namco have been releasing patches, but people are still complaining (from what I’ve been reading).

I honestly have not played much of the Online Modes, mainly because they are lacking, but also because a few modes have been removed – such as Team Battle, Time Attack and Survival. Granted, they’re not revolutionary, but they have been included in every single Tekken title – even the spin-offs.


Treasure Battle

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Like Tournament, this is a new mode, and actually fairly decent. This mode – similarly to Tekken Revolution – can introduce random battle conditions, such as Turbo Matches and the like. You can fight for money, customization items and ranks. Again, it’s short like Arcade Mode, but a bit more fun. Only a little bit more. This is Offline, so it actually works.

Speaking of Customization, this game actually follows its counterparts – as more games are released, the customize options get bigger (it’s funny to think that Tekken 5 started Customization, but only allowed 4 or 5 items in each category. Tekken 7‘s Customization range is the largest by far, and this time allows you to customize personal stuff, such borders for your health gauge.


Gameplay

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Now, I’m a big fan of beat ’em ups, but one of the reasons why Tekken is my favourite of the genre is because of the controls. I’ve always found Tekken the simplest and easiest because each button is assigned to a different limb – back when Tekken was just on the PS platforms, square and triangle are for punches, while X and circle are for kicks. It hasn’t changed at all, and certainly does not change for Tekken 7 – not that it needed to. I’ve always felt the controls allow for more freedom in your play style, rather than just mashing buttons.

There were 2 new added features to gameplay this time though – Rage Drives and Rage Arts. Rage Drives are unblockable combos that can break someone’s defense. Rage Arts work in a similar way to the Rage system in Tekken 6 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (which does not feature in Tekken 7) in that when your health bar depletes to a certain amount, your character goes into Rage Mode. In T6 and TTT2, this gave you extra strength to turn the tide of battle, however in T7, Rage grants you access to Rage Arts – a combo played by a cutscene by pressing a trigger button (which has never been used in a Tekken game, unless you assign it in the controls options). Again, it can turn the tide of a battle and some of these combos are amazing.

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The gameplay is still the same for Tekken, which is not a bad thing – I think it’s good for beginners and experienced alike. So if it’s not broke, why fix it? I also love the added detail of slow-mo when both fighters are about to hit eachother simultaneously.

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Soundtrack

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I really enjoy the soundtracks of Tekken (TTT2‘s soundtrack is by far my favourite, just for the remade version of Fiji Paradise), but Tekken 7‘s is…OK. It’s nothing special. To be honest, I forget what most themes are for certain stages – compared to previously playing Tekken, seeing the stage I would be playing in then getting excited because I love the soundtrack. Most of them are forgettable and a bit behind in the times – a lot of songs are heavy in the bass drop department, which was so 2016.

The soundtrack for the opening movies and The Mishima Saga where great though – Namco took a completely different turn with it this time and served orchestra, haunting voices realness. The music for the final stages of The Mishima Saga fit in really well.


Presentation

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Tekken 7 was made in the Unreal Engine 4 – the same as Life is Strange, Street Fighter V and Kholat – so of course, it was going to be stunning (Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII Remake will be made in the game engine too – squeal!).  Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection Online surprised me when I first played it on the PS3 (because it was the first Tekken game to be on the PS3) due to it’s presentation in details – you could see every frill in Lili’s dress; every fibre in the belt of Christie’s ‘trousers’; every strain in Anna’s tight dress. As systems developed and Tekken developed along with them, the graphics got better, so Tekken 7 is no exception. I found myself noticing every character’s facial expression as they fought and watching how clothes flowed as I played. Speaking of which, I enjoyed how hoods would fall with Jin and Steve, along with Nina’s veil and Shaheen’s keffiyeh (his head scarf, essestionally) when they were hit too hard. Tekken is known for it’s extra detail, which was not lacking in Tekken 7 (I know this has nothing to go with presentation, but I had to mention it somewhere).

Of course, there was the occasional glitch and some scenes that looked…weird (like in the fight between Kazuya and Heihachi when they punch eachother in the face at the same time – the cheeks look a little strange). On PC, the game looks great as well as the PS4 version.


Conclusion

I think the repeating theme of this game is lacking – the game lacked time in Story and Arcade Mode, only 4 modes for Online and Offline and not a lot of the characters from Tekken 6 reappeared in Tekken 7 like previous games. I feel like the focus was mainly on Story Mode and the presentation (despite a lot of the stages being kinda boring – expect Infinite Azure as that stage is stunning).

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But that isn’t a bad thing – yes, in lacked in playtime in the Story Mode, but it expanded so much in the lore and left a possibility for Tekken 8. It still keeps the mechanics that make Tekken so enjoyable, but with less modes and characters to play, it does feel like something is missing.

I also disliked how Tekken 7 jumped on the DLC wagon – yes, it’s had DLC before, but the majority of it was free or you had to pay a bit extra for the Special Edition, which included everything (compared to the price, it would be much cheaper). This time, you could pre-order for a bonus character, as well as a Season Pass to get the next 2 DLC characters being released later this year and next year (granted, it does cover the whole year, but that’s not the point). Tekken has rarely used DLC, and when it has, it does it the right way. However, with Tekken 7, they haven’t, and in my eyes, makes them seem greedy.

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Harada argued that if there was no DLC, the game could not be supported. I argue this – Tekken is one of the most popular games in the fighting genre – all my gamer friends know the franchise, even if they’ve never played it before. Tekken 7 did very well within it’s first week of release and I have seen many new players as well as old as there are recurring.

OK, so I’ve picked on the negatives a lot, but I don’t think Tekken 7 is a bad game. OK, it’s not up there with Tekken 5 or 6 (the best games in the series, in my opinion), but it’s still good and I would recommend picking it up. Maybe not for new players – unless they really enjoy the beat ’em up genre – but this game is definitely more for the lovers of the series purely for the focus on the lore in Story Mode. The time between releasing 6 to 7 is almost 10 years, and despite that time, I think Namco and Harada may have been (or still are) focusing on other projects – I know during this time, the Tekken Project team was working on Tekken X Street Fighter, however it’s production was halted back in 2014.

I do think that Harada is a great listener and has asked for fan feedback in the past (he did this a lot with new character Shaheen), so maybe he will listen to us and add more content into the game. There is a rumor that Tekken Bowl will be making an appearance again, possibly as DLC.

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Strengths:

  • Great adding into the lore
  • Beautiful visuals and presentations
  • Great gameplay mechanics

Weakness:

  • Lacking in different modes
  • Bad online presence
  • DLC

Overall: 7/10

I would recommend this game – but only to experienced beat ’em up players and fans of the series. Tekken 7 is a good game, but – for me at least – it has not peaked up there with previous games in the series.


Thanks for reading – hope you enjoyed! Let me know your thoughts.

I have a playthrough of Tekken 7 on my YouTube channel, so check them out here.

Until next time, take care!

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