Can Tekken Tag Tournament 2 live up to its legendary predecessor, or does it fall short in the current resurgence of the fighting game genre?
For clarification, the version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 that we got to play was the arcade release, complete with full 5-button stick layout. However, the PlayStation 3 version of the game is expected to prove virtually identical in terms of core gameplay mechanics.
Unsurprisingly, the sequel plays like the original Tekken Tag Tournament, albeit with Tekken 6 tweaks. Essentially, this means you‘ll find features such as the ‘Bound’ system and walled arenas present, the former of which has become an integral component in extending those health-draining juggles. Meanwhile, the character roster, which was one of the most impressive aspects in the original Tag, is huge and features pretty much every character in the series’ history, including Jinpachi Mishima in his regular, non-cheap-fireball-slinging state.
There are some new gameplay features in the brawler though, all based around the tag mechanic. For one, there's a Tag throw manoeuvre activated by pressing the tag button simultaneously with what will be the triangle button on the PS3, which damages your foe while bringing out your partner. Also new to the table are proper Tag combo mechanics that are somewhat difficult to pull off, but ultimately prove incredibly rewarding.
Elsewhere, there are a few returning stages from previous Tekken games, such as Sakura High School, to really play up the nostalgia factor. Interestingly, on the character front, choosing both Jin and Devil Jin did not get a transformation animation while tagging like Devil and Kazuya used to do; however, while this is a shame, given nature of the game mechanics it's an understandable choice.
The odd thing about Tag 2 is the timing of the release. The original Tekken Tag is arguably the most enjoyable instalment in the franchise to date, and one has to wonder why Namco has taken this long to churn out a sequel. However it's not the time between the titles that is the most curious thing about the game. Rather, it's the upcoming competition it faces from Street Fighter X Tekken that seems to make this a questionable move. Of course, SF x T is going to be quite the different game, so if you prefer the juggling and dial-a-combos of Tekken over the tactical and technical nature of Street Fighter, then there is really no competition.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is due out in Japanese arcades later this year, with a home console release following at a later date.
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