Tekken is one of the leading series in the fighting game genre for over a decade now, and when we played its latest entry, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, we were treated to new characters, new combos, enhanced graphics and lots of new modes that really give the game extra value. But does that necessarily mean that new is always better?

For those how never had the chance to play the first Tekken Tag Tournament, the main difference between it and any other Tekken game is the ability to control two characters during a fight, and switch between them at will (hence the “tag” part of the title). Another thing that give TTT it’s edge are the combos you can make by combining the abilities of your two fighters. But before I go on about all the new combos (and there are quite a lot of them), I’d like to say a few words about the characters: TTT2 brings together most of the characters from past games in the series, and allows the player to choose from a huge roster of 45 fighters. It’s pretty much guaranteed every player will spend hours upon hours trying out each fighter until he finds the one that suits his style the best. If 45 characters aren’t enough, Namco Bandai is planning on releasing 15 more (some are already out) as free DLC. So that’s a total of 60 characters and lots of action.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is a fighting game for both skilled players and newcomers to the genre. Namco wants you to spend many hours playing the game simply learning all the combos for your favorite characters, or getting familiar with the various modes available. You got the basic modes that you see in every fighting game, like Arcade or Versus (both online and off). A new addition mode is the “Fight Lab” mode that allows players to train in the most basic combos all fighters have in common, and master them rather quickly. This mode even has a cute little story about a training robot to keep you engaged. Team Battle is back as well from the previous game, letting player pit groups of 8 characters against each other (two pairs at a time). Of course you can always just pick a lone fighter and fight through any mode you’d like, but that’s something only very skilled players should try, since it’s very hard to win with just a single character. Time Attack, the mode that challenges the player to finish one playthrough as fast as possible, returns alongside Survival mode, the game’s variation on the now famous Horde mode, in which you fight foes till you drop.

Once you’ve master the various modes, and decided which characters you prefer to play as, you can just into TTT2’s main event – the multiplayer. The multiplayer offers two similar but different experiences: in one you fight against other players by yourself, working to advance your fighter in the online ranks; in the other you fight as a part of a team and each member’s victory helps to boost the team’s ranking in the global arena. In order to get the full value out of the online play, you need (and should) sigh up for a small Tekken social network called World Tekken Federation in the game’s official website. WTF (yes, we’ve noticed that too) keeps records of all your online battles and ranks you accordingly. But beyond the online leaderboards, WTF analyses each victory and defeat in hopes you’ll learn what your strengths and weakness are, and improve your play style based on that knowledge. It seems like Namco really wants TTT2 players to keep getting better and better all the time. So if you feel you’re stuck in a losing streak, check your WTF profile and see what’s been keeping you down. The best fighter is the one who constantly improves his skills and can adapt to different fighting styles used by his opponents.

But not all is perfect in Tekken Tag Tournament 2; it has a few problems that might mar the fighting experience for some players. Because of the large amounts of combos, the game can sometimes get confused and won’t register the exact move you want to make. So instead of continuing the combo with a charge forward, or backing away from an enemy’s counter attack, your fighter might just jump in place. It can get really infuriating at times. Another thing that might turn some player away (especially beginners) is combos that seem to go on forever. Previous Tekken games always let a player break away from an opponent’s continuous attack of he was skilled enough to know how. In TTT2 however, if a combo catches you mid-jump, you can just put the controller aside and watch your opponent juggle away your life bar with a non-stopping barrage of kicks and punches. A lot of players like this option on a fighting game, but newcomers can find it really frustrating. The game does try to match player for online battles according to their level, but it doesn’t always succeeds.

Tekken Tag 2 looks absolutely amazing (for a fighting game) with detailed characters, smooth animations and bright colors. Continuing with the series’ traditions, the soundtrack is mostly electronic music with a good beat to it, but if you’d like to hear something else you can switch it up a little or even remove a certain track. If you’re really not in the mood for something upbeat and repetitive, you can choose to insert your own music into the mix to play while you kick some ass. Character customization receives a boost, and players can change each character’s appearance with different hairstyles and cloths. TTT2 tries to make the player almost totally in charge of his individual experience, and provides him with the tools to do so (all within reason, of course).

Over the years, Namco has brought us one success after another in the fighting game genre, and this time it’s no different. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is an expertly made game that offers a great gaming experience, to both new and old fans of the series. So if you’re looking for a game you’d really want to invest in, or a just one to pass a few adrenaline-pumped hours with, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is there to fight by your side.

Written by Avi Kaisermann.


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