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Gaming Review

'Tekken Tag Tournament 2' review (PS3): All killer, no filler

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Released on Tuesday, Sep 11 2012

Tekken Tag Tournament 2' screenshot

© Namco Bandai


Release Date: September 11 (North America) September 14 (Europe)
Platforms available on: Xbox 360
Developer: Namco Bandai Games
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Genre: Fighting

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 has been viewed as something of a greatest hits package for a fighting series that's been around for nearly 20 years. A collection bursting with characters, backgrounds, game modes, tunes and items, it would certainly appear to be the most complete Tekken title to date. Like any best-of package, however, it's all about balancing the killer to filler ratio, something which Namco has nailed.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 doesn't feature much in the way of a plot; instead, it adopts the invitational approach, bringing together the series' best fighters to compete for bragging rights in a global tournament. And while each character's reasons for entering are revealed in a short animated video after besting the arcade mode, pleasure is gleaned from the journey, not the destination.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2' screenshot
There are roughly 50 characters to choose from out of the box, with further fighters to unlock as the game progresses. If you've ever picked up a Tekken title since its PSOne debut, chances are your favourite character is included. In addition to familiar faces such as Nina Williams and Heihachi, you can expect to find relative newcomers such as Bob Richards, Lars Alexandersson and Miguel.

Users can choose to participate solo or as a tag team combination, opening up countless possibilities for experimentation. Each character has pages and pages of moves and combos at their disposal, not to mention special tag moves and cancels, which become increasingly important as the opposition intensifies. It's also worth knowing your environment, as some stages are multi-tiered, while others feature breakable walls for more damage.

While there is a standard practice arena, which can be tweaked to master attack or defence, the best way to learn the ropes is by taking advantage of Violet's Combot robot in the Fight Lab mode.

In what is possibly the most entertaining tutorial mode we've ever played, users must complete a series of increasingly bizarre challenges involving robots, giants, flying sumo wrestlers and explosives. Each challenge is designed to teach Combot a specific skill, which will benefit players in subsequent battles.


What makes this mode particularly appealing, however, is the fact that Combot can be fully customised with almost every move and combo from the game's huge roster. Before long, experimenting with move sets becomes an obsession, especially when you discover that a few of your favourite moves don't compliment each other, or better yet, you come up with a really handy move set, combining both speed and power.

Brilliantly, the customisation element of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 doesn't end with Combot. Every character in the game can be transformed with hundreds of items, costumes and haircuts, making them virtually unrecognisable. Even the game's music can be tweaked. Users can switch the music of the game's two dozen stages, potentially even importing their own tunes to add to the soundtrack.

Tekken has always been known for its stellar soundtrack, of course, so we're not sure why you'd want to mess with the sound direction, though it is a fun extra.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2' screenshot
The visuals are also fantastic. Stages are colourful and packed with detail, while character animation makes performing combos a joy to watch. The cutscenes are also extremely well put together, and we appreciate the addition of the odd hand-drawn still during Fight Lab. Perhaps the only criticism is that the game is designed for a joystick, so intricate movements can prove slightly jerky. There's also the odd frame-rate issue, though these crop up very rarely.

With Arcade, Ghost Battle, Team Battle, Time Attack, Survival and Pair Play to keep players busy in the offline mode, not to mention local multiplayer, it's easy to forget that Namco has made some huge strides in the online aspect of the game, launching one of the deepest online portals this side of Call of Duty.

Calling 'World Tekken Federation' a stat-tracker doesn't quite do it justice. In addition to recording wins and losses, it tracks everything from the number of throws a player performs, to the amount of damage they dish out with combos. It's difficult to evaluate exactly how efficient it is at this early stage, but with mobile support and links to XBLA and PSN accounts, it's already far beyond the offerings of fellow fighting games.

Whether it's learning the ropes with Combot, attempting to best a challenging arcade mode, taking on tag teams with friends, or going global with 'World Tekken Federation', the package is always entertaining. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is undoubtedly one of the deepest and most entertaining fighting games in years, proving that like a well-oiled tag team, both quality and quantity can coexist in perfect harmony.


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