I’ve been playing Tekken since the original game on the PS1 had Galaga as a playable loading screen, so when I tell you that Tekken 6 is one of the best in the series, you better well damn believe it. Tekken 6 is an amazing experience with only a few snags that keep it from being the King of the Iron Fist Tournament.

The first thing, surprisingly, I want to talk about are the graphics, because they are definitely a reason to have an HDTV. Now, I’m normally not a graphics whore, but oh my God, these are the most impressive graphics I’ve seen in a fighting game since Soul Calibur for the Dreamcast (Funny, how that game was from Namco, too). The backgrounds, character models, scenery, EVERYTHING in this game just has you going “humina humina humina,” as you watch the details stream past you seamlessly. Landscapes with tanks bursting through them, a whole competition of people throwing tomatoes at each other, rollicking waves rocking the doorstep of a dojo, just about everything in the background makes you almost forget that you’re getting your ass handed to you by Heihachi.

And then, when you least expect it, the whole wall or floor that you’re standing on gets busted through or collapses beneath you. That’s right, taking a highly read page from Dead or Alive’s handbook are interactive backgrounds that reveal totally new locations if they’re hammered at enough, creating some interesting maneuvering around the playing field once you know where to spot them. It makes for some damn exciting gameplay and it’s an interesting addition to an already awesome franchise.

As always, the fighting is tremendous, and with six new playable characters, the battles are just as intense as ever. Surprisingly, I’m happy to say that all of the newbies are actually very unique and interesting to play with. Miguel is a brawler who punishes those who get in too close, Zafina is quick on her feet and highly damaging down low, and Bob is a member of the new school of morbidly obese fighters (See: Street Fighter 4’s Rufus) who’s surprisingly fast on his feet even though he probably can’t even see them. And then there’s Alisa Bosconovitch, who is obviously the daughter of can’t-stay-on-his-feet, Dr. Bosconovitch. Alisa is one of the strangest characters yet as her attacks are so disorienting that it’s hard to get a good hit on her. She has jet pack wings, can release chainsaws for hands, and can even take off her head and give it to other characters where it explodes in their hands. Only in the Tekken universe, baby, only in the Tekken universe.

All of your old favorites are back, too, and they all have really cool looking models and a few new moves to boot. This home version is actually based on the second version of Tekken 6, "Bloodline Rebellion," so it benefits from all the great additions that came with that game, and it really feels like one giant, epic, balls to the wall slugfest with pretty much any character you’ve fallen in love with over the course of Tekken’s lengthy history (Except for Tekken 3’s Gon and Dr. Bosconovitch, sadly, but I guess Alisa makes up for her father’s absence, but Gon, well, we’ll never have another Gon again, I guess).

Also new to the fold is the new “rage” system that allows you to deliver more devastating attacks when you get really low on your health bar and start glowing red. I can tell you that on more than one occasion, I came back like a raging demon and destroyed my opponents, both offline and on, with this feature, so it’s a nice addition. Speaking of new additions, another nice one is the new “bound” system, where you can knock your opponent hard into the ground while they’re in mid-air and cause them to bounce off the floor where you can juggle them some more for a higher combo. I have to tell you, it took me awhile to get this down, but once I did, I extended my combos a little bit longer. I’m sure Tekken experts are going to exploit this, though, because it definitely has the potential to be used by the cheaper players who are already too damn good as it is.

So, by this point, you’re probably thinking that this fighting game has it all, eh? Well, not so fast Yoshimitsu lover, as there are a few things that keep this from being the Tekken to end all Tekkens.
Tekken history from the first game all the way up to Tekken 6, showing how Heihachi’s empire crumbled once his son, Kazuya, and in turn, his grandson, Jin, became the heads of the corporation. This is far too detailed for a fighting game and it had me dozing off by the time they were talking about Tekken 4’s story, so nope, pass.

We’re then offered a cut scene that has to be about 15 whole minutes of Twilight-like staring and exposition. It’s got to be one of the most boring cut scenes I have ever seen in the history of video game cut scenes. Luckily, you can just press start and skip past it, which I started to do much later, but if you’re like me, you’re going to WANT to follow the story, and I found that even I couldn’t do that with this game, and that’s saying a lot. Once you move on, though, past this terrible cut scene, the story never really picks up, and it all seems like a big waste, really. It was ambitious, and if they had done it in a similar style as Soul Calibur 2’s “Weapon Master Mode,” I probably would have dug it, but as of right now, I can’t tolerate it one bit.

Another thing I hate (Yes, hate) about this game is the final boss, Azazel, which is some kind of crystalline dinosaur or something like that. Azazel is cheap as all hell. Yeah, sure, Tekken has had its string of cheap bosses before (Last edition’s, Jinpachi, is one such example, for instance), but Azazel kicks it up to a new notche with his cheapness. Currently, I’m still totally unable to beat him (her?) with several characters, as I can’t seem to get in close with them in the slightest. What a bummer!

Oh, and one final thing that bugs me about this edition of Tekken is that at times, it’s WAY too serious. Since this game is supposed to be in the midst of Jin’s quest for world domination, some of the silliness that I’ve come to adore with Tekken is gone. Sure, there’s still a fighting panda bear, and Mokujin is still a fighting tree with boxing gloves and breasts, but other than that, the game is a little too serious for my tastes, what with the epidemic of war going on throughout many of the stages.

Still, the good heavily outweighs the bad with Tekken 6 and I’m happy to say that in the long string of titles thus far, Tekken 6 is probably the third best Tekken after 3 and 5, respectively, and I think that’s saying a lot. Tekken 6 definitely gives reason to return and regain the title of being the King of the Iron Fist Tournament.

Players: 1-4
Platform(s): Xbox 360 (Reviewed) PS3, PSP
Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai
ESRB: Teen
Rating:

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