Developer: Namco Bandai Games
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3
Release Date: 9/11/2012
Note: A copy of the Xbox 360 version of the game was provided for review purposes.
Namco Bandai’s newest release in the Tekken franchise packs quite a punch for die-hard fans, staying loyal to the original competitive arcade spirit that has defined the series ever since its inception in 1994. While there is an impressive amount of additional content–including a massive character roster that spans across every game in the series–Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is still an invigorating arcade fighter at its core.
This franchise is well known for its continuity in terms of gameplay mechanics, character traits and game modes. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 continues this time-honored tradition by incorporating all the modes we know and love like Arcade, Survival, Ghost Battle, Team Battle and Time Battle–while offering the same character customization and in-game ranking system first integrated with Tekken 5.
In my point of view, a great fighting game is fully dependent upon its in-game mechanics. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 streamlines combat, giving seemingly full control over your character’s every move–every backstep, every block, every attack feels perfectly timed and responsive. The animations and movements are so fluid and precise that it is easy to forget you’re playing the game and not actually in the arena. The realistic physics system coupled with the enthralling lightning-fast action makes for an invigorating and highly enjoyable experience for any arcade fighting fan.
The diverse range of martial arts and combat styles are all so dynamically executed in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 that every battle feels like an elegant dance.
Everything from King’s traditional wrestling submissions to Jun Kazama’s graceful combos are mystifying to watch, bringing an intriguing level of entertainment from each battle. The raw chaos that can ensue during a match seems to defy nature in its awesomeness, breaking both the laws of physics and the laws of reality with the degree of precision and fluid grace found in the mechanics.
TTT2 also keeps the standard control scheme and the basic Command List that seasoned veterans will recognize, complete with new attacks and all the old moves players are familiar with. The Xbox 360 controller works quite well in this game but traditional arcade fans will of course prefer an arcade stick instead. Surprisingly, the D-Pad on the Xbox 360 controller isn’t too bad in this game…however the analog stick is preferred for complex combo strings.
With 50-plus character choices in Tekken Tag Tournament 2, gameplay is always kept fresh and adds a high level of replayability. Trying new characters is a little bit like discovering a whole new game, opening up new potential for the perfect tag team.
Each time you choose a new character it’s like opening a new Christmas present: will Christie’s dazzling Capoeira moves be that nice new shiny bike that you’ve always wanted, or will she turn out to be a sweater knit by Grandma? It can be a mixed bag kind of thing, but it is quite nice to have the chance in finding your new favorite character every time you pick someone unfamiliar.
The characters themselves all have their own quirky personalities and attributes that define their identities throughout the series, and many of them have heated rivalries and relationships with one another (i.e. Paul and Law’s bromantic relationship or Armor King and Marduk’s hatred for one another). This game goes further than that to include relationship-specific Tag attacks that can only be executed when two characters are compatible with one another.
Players can also fully customize the appearance any character in the game with new threads, hats, pants and a host of other zany and wacky accessories like fairy wings, halos and even a doughnut inner tube that looks quite hilarious on Panda. This level of customization directly builds from Tekken 5‘s massive array of items that can make each character a personal representation of a player’s tastes.
One of the greatest things about Tekken is that it has something for everyone. It’s not a macho boys-only fighter, but accommodates a wide variety of female characters like Christie, Lili, Asuka, Jun Kazama, Zafina and the femme-fatale assassin Nina Willaims. You can even fight as anthropomorphic animals such as Kuma, Panda, Alex the raptor and Roger Jr. the boxing-gloved kangaroo who’s complete with a joey within its pouch.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 also keeps the same ranking system first introduced in Tekken 5. The more battles you win the more currency you’ll receive, and winning battles against harder ranks (like Mentor or Grandmaster) will provide better chances of promotions and even bonus unlockables. This system is somewhat akin to an RPG’s leveling mechanic, however not every win or battle will earn exp or a promotion chance. A record of your Wins and Losses for each character is also kept, allowing other players to quantify your skill with a certain character.
Offline Mode is a great way to practice and build your skills to learn the dynamic art of Tekken. With eight different modes to choose from (Arcade Battle, Ghost Battle, VS Battle, Team Battle, Time Attack, Survival, Practice and Pair Play) this is the perfect training ground for both Iron Fist veterans and beginners. Most modes like Arcade and Ghost Battle can net gold and rank promotions with wins, but certain modes don’t offer this feature.
While this sequel doesn’t incorporate Tekken Force Mode or the Story Mode–the game’s story mode is loosely tied into the Arcade Mode–it does incorporate Online Play, integrated stat tracking with the World Tekken Federation, and a new mode called the Fight Lab that shows how Combot attained everyone’s signature moves.
The Fight Lab is a great tutorial section where beginners can learn the ropes of Tekken‘s expansive combat while building up their own personalized Combot by purchasing new moves and abilities. The Fight Lab also is quite hilarious, showing Namco’s attention to character personalities, especially with Lee (a.k.a. Violet) who has a host of loveable personality flaws.
While I personally always enjoyed Story Mode and Tekken Force Mode, this game is more about arcade action rather than intricate plots and story arcs–something many gamers will appreciate.
My personal favorite game mode is Ghost Battle, where you can take on CPU representations of real players. The “ghosts” are actual simulated reproductions of Tekken players who’s moves have been studied and recorded by the CPU and are executed just as if you were playing that actual person. This dynamic is great and something that I’ve always enjoyed, and one of the best parts is that it only ends when you quit. You can keep going on and on and on which offers the perfect opportunity to train and earn promotions and currency.
Arcade Mode is the classic progression through enemies to end-game bosses, and is reflected as it always has been in TTT2. The game’s end-boss, Unknown, is incredibly difficult–and rightfully so since she’s the last boss. The Arcade Mode provides a challenge to players while keeping the traditional arcade experience that is delivered in coin-op machines. Upon completion of the Arcade Mode players are treated with a nice CGI video cutscene, a feature that’s notorious in all Tekken games.
With Online Mode, players can take on other players all across the world in Ranked and Player Matches, and is much more competitive and stressful than the other gametypes. Online Mode brings the competitive excitement of the arcade right to your living room, which is a great feature for any hardcore fan. Watch out though, because you’re apt to find many Tekken pros out there who will ruthlessly decimate you. But that’s all in the spirit of the game. Plus it’s always great to shred the dignity of a professional by getting a Perfect on them just by using simple punches and kicks or mashing buttons.
The stages are amazingly detailed and flawlessly animated. Each stage goes around the world from China to Finland, and every single area is dynamic with everything from cheering spectators, beach babes in bikinis, or even dancing prairie dogs. The stage environments are incredible and authentic with scenes like the Aurora Borealis in Finland’s Christmas Wonderland stage or the paradise of Jun Kazama’s boss battle stage.
The realism of the stages really gives players the sense of actually being in the location. The backgrounds aren’t too distracting or eye-catching–these are things you’ll notice, but it’s still easy to pay attention to the battle at hand.
Many gamers like small things such as extras and unlockables in fighting games. In the Gallery menu players can view End Game videos for each character. Traditionally each end game video is unlocked when that character is used to beat Arcade Mode and every video is watchable in the Gallery. The unlockable achievements in the Xbox 360 version range from easy to hard and provide a nicely varied range of difficulty to boost your Gamerscore.
The Tekken Tunes mode is also quite noteworthy. This mode allows players to not only customize what song they’d like to hear in battle or on certain stages, but also to listen to every single track on the game itself. The Tekken games have all had great soundtracks, and TTT2 goes above and beyond to bring musical variety to every single match.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 truly captures the spirit of the Tekken franchise and is worthy successor to the series. With a dazzling display of lightning-fast combat, new game modes, the biggest character list ever in a Tekken game and a host of new customizable features, this sequel’s overall quality shines brighter than most fighting titles available today.
Games that can adequately reflect an authentic arcade experience are few and far between, but in this respect Tekken Tag Tournament 2 perfectly captures the lightning-in-a-bottle gameplay that its arcade version has to offer.
With amazing graphics, a distinct and eye-catching visual style, and an impressive soundtrack that gets you pumped up, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is a treat for all of your senses. It also offers Tekken‘s signature hilarity with humor incorporated in every game, allowing players to laugh in spite of the chaos that occurs in the arena. Namco Bandai’s sequel is truly a great addition to any game library, delivering an amazing and explosive experience each time you play it.
+ Lighting-fast action with engaging gameplay
+ World Tekken Federation online tracking system
+ New game modes like the Fight Lab
+ Impressive graphics and eye-catching visuals
+ Huge replay value
+ Ranking system and character customization
+ Great soundtrack
- Arcade end-boss can be punishingly hard
- No Tekken Force mode