Tekken director Katsuhiro Harada eyes the box he has been passed with no small amount of trepidation. “It’s from Yoshinori Ono,” he explains with a grin, Ono being the now legendary Capcom producer behind games like Street Fighter IV and who was recently seen running on stage fully dressed as Blanka. Perhaps a small pile of Street Fighter figures will drop out? Harada opens the box carefully and is relieved to see a regular bottle of spirits, rather than whatever outrageous gift he may have been expecting. It’s indicative of the friendly rivalry that exists in the fighting genre, where the competition is seen as something to be admired rather than something to be afraid of.
Harada is quick to jump into the game and show off the lush looking combat first hand. With this and Dead or Alive 5 hitting the shelves, gamers will be spoilt for choice when it comes to silky smooth fighting games. The sequel offers the same tag mechanics as the original Tekken Tag, with teams of two punching and kicking each other until one of them is knocked out, ending the round. You can also opt for two versus one or one versus one matches, and features an impressive roster of characters covering practically every iteration of the series so far. For Tekken fans this is pretty much the real deal, with every aspect and variation of the fighter polished up and left looking and feeling amazing.
”We listened to fan requests and changed the game appropriately,” Harada explains, as he shows off some minor features that non-fight fans might take for granted: like the ability to alter the size and location of the life gauge on the screen. He also shows off the impressively deep Fight Lab that lets new players learn the basics while also allowing series veterans to challenge themselves against AI bots and customise the various move sets on offer to their opponents.
Each time you clear certain stages in the Fight Lab you will be assigned a ranking, which in turn will unlock new moves to purchase and also mean that you have a bevy of points to spend on said moves. The idea being that players can constantly challenge themselves and always have a new goal, or series of unlocks, to strive for. “So it’s not like you can just play through once and be done with it,” Harada states, “As there is a lot on offer here so you can continue to play through this mode to unlock all of the content.” It’s clear that the focus is on creating an array of modes and content to keep hardcore players happy while also appealing to relative newcomers.
He also mentioned the new Tekken Tunes feature which lets players chop and change the in-game music as they see fit, or even introduce their own music to play over the menus, stages and so on. He immediately brandished a Red Hot Chili Peppers CD with a grin and popped it into the console to import 'Give it Away' over the action. It’s a neat feature and an example of the level of interaction Harada hopes players will come to enjoy. “You can also put your own music and soundtracks in there,” Harada continues, with a glint in his eye, “Or as a parent, you can leave messages to your kids to tell them to stop playing games and do their homework instead. So that when they clear the final stage they get yelled at for playing the game.” A novel approach to selling your game to be sure, but it shows the sense of humour on offer and that Harada is prepared to embrace a variety of ideas to make the game as unique as possible.
Next up was the World Tekken Federation, a premiere online offering in the mold of Call of Duty Elite et al. The idea being to offer a “suite of tools to enhance the online experience.” It’s the first time that a fighting franchise has offered such a service and from the reams of statistics on offer it's hard to see why no one has tried this approach before now. The idea is simplicity itself. Creating an online hub that tracks every aspect of your Tekken career, covering your victories and defeats, favourite characters, preferred moves and weaknesses.
Quite how many people will want to invest in a premium service for the fighting genre remains to be seen, but the whole system has been put together to provide everything you might conceivably need. From learning which moves you regularly succumb to, to immediately hopping into a practice session to learn how to counter said weakness. There is also clan support so teams of players can work together to pummel the opposition, as well as unique challenges and achievements (separate to your regular 360 achievements) unique to the online arena. You can also track your mastery of certain characters, depending on your success or failure, and aim to reach the highest level of awesomeness with every single fighter.
The question of whether or not there will be any extra perks remains to be seen, as there was no confirmation of any bonus DLC or modes as of yet. Considering the fact Harada has stated in the past that they would not charge for extra characters, it remains to be seen exactly how much this service will cost and whether or not fans will see it as a worthwhile investment. Suffice it to say though that, as a package, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is looking like a pretty sweet deal so far. The mixture of stellar graphics, quality fighting mechanics, an impressive roster and a wonderful array of extra features means that fans have plenty to look forward to when the King of Iron Fist returns.
Expect to be tag teaming various sultry ladies (and beefy men) come September 10th when Tekken Tag Tournament 2 hits shelves with a mighty fist.