Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Review
- Posted September 17th, 2012 at 06:27 EDT by Michael Harradence
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With a massive character roster, great online mode and solid gameplay mechanics, Tekken Tag 2 is easily one of the best brawlers on the market and a triumphant return for the series.
- The great tag mechanics
- The superb character roster
- Online play is greatly improved over Tekken 6
- The minor online lag issues
- No classic mini-games like Tekken Force, Bowling etc
Given the abundance of beat-‘em-up titles that have punched their way into stores the past 18 months or so, you’d be forgiven for initially giving Tekken Tag Tournament 2 the cold shoulder. After all, with the likes of Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter x Tekken and Soul Calibur V competing for your hard-earned cash, a new game has to offer something unique and captivating in order to differentiate itself from its contemporaries. Fortunately, Tekken Tag 2 does just that, offering what is unequivocally the strongest console entry in the franchise for a good couple of years. Yes, it’s not particularly original, nor does it challenge any pre-conceived notions you may have of the franchise, but it works – and rather well, too.
Ostensibly, Namco’s latest offering is Tekken 6 with a Tag component slapped on top, but things do go a little deeper than that. Sure, mechanically this is pretty much the same game you played three years ago, but the Tag element adds an exciting strategic layer onto the proceedings. Character wise this is the most comprehensive Tekken line-up you’ll ever see; all your old favourites such as Paul, Kazuya and Marshall Law are here, alongside newcomers Lars and Alisa plus folk we haven’t seen in years including Jun, Michelle and Ogre. As such, there’s a myriad of fighting styles on offer, catering to a variety of tastes and techniques. As mentioned the gameplay is fundamentally similar to Tekken 6, which in itself is no bad thing.
Tekken has always managed to carve out a niche for itself, landing somewhere between the graceful intricacies of Virtua Fighter and the over-the-top, juggle-based play of Street Fighter. Building on the Tekken 6 engine means the Bound system is back, allowing you to effectively bounce an opponent off the ground leaving them susceptible to further pummelling. Characters are pretty much as you remember them, complete with some obligatory new moves, though a couple of tweaks have resulted in some techniques either being mapped to new buttons or replaced altogether. The Tekken paradigm remains as solid as ever though, and there’s enough depth here to keep masters happy while not alienating newcomers at the same time. It’s like peeling back the layer of an onion; start off with the basics, go to more advanced combos and juggles, then have a pop at the more complicated stuff like grapple/multi part escapes, chickens, side-stepping and other such moves.
The Tag component is the star of the show however. Aside from the obvious challenge of managing two characters, the various Tag manoeuvres you have at your disposal really add a whole new dimension to fights. Hitting the analogue stick tags in your second player, but arbitrarily whacking it isn’t going to do much; you need to know how to use it and when to really unlock its true potential. Take for example my team of choice, Kazuya and Heihachi. Execute the Stone Head grapple with Kaz, hit tag, and then watch as Father and Son batter their victim while tagging in rage-induced Heihachi. This not only deals damage and tags in your second character, but puts you at a distinct advantage as your opponent will still be recovering.
Even more crucial are Tag Assaults. These are new attacks that didn’t appear in the first Tekken Tag, and allow you to slap your opponent about with both characters simultaneously. Activated by tagging just before you ‘bound’ a foe, they can set you up for some pretty meaty combos and, if executed to their full potential, can really punish your adversary. Yes, they’re tricky to do, but can seriously shake-up the equilibrium of a punch-up if you get the hang of it. Fortunately Namco doesn’t shove them down your throat either; you can still launch an opponent, hit tag, and then follow up with a regular juggle if you see fit.
Tekken Tag 2 is packed with game modes, with the new face being Fight Lab. This essentially replaces the scenario mode/story mode of previous iterations with a how-to-play tutorial featuring its own narrative of sorts. This is definitely where Harada-san and co have attempted to make newcomers feel as welcome as possible. Here, you are put in control of ... (continued on next page) ----