Tekken fans around the world used to mourn that they would never be able to play the Japanese Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection on their consoles. Namco announced that it was porting the Japanese arcade-only title to the PSP, which is a fantastic game but simply not enough for hardcore fans. Thankfully Namco finally realized the demand for a console version of the game, and in a surprising move released Tekken 5: DR not as a budget title for the PlayStation 2, but as a downloadable title for the PlayStation 3 Network. So how does it fare against the other relatively meager PlayStation Store offerings? So far, it’s the saving grace.
Tekken 5: DR’s visuals have been enhanced significantly for the PlayStation 3 version of the game. Built originally on improved PS2 hardware, now running at 1080p, the title looks incredible for a downloadable game. The character models have high polygon counts, looking crisp and polished in high definition. The environments feel alive and vibrant, if not somewhat ridiculous (one stage is made up completely of pink floating hearts). Their minor interactivity is a nice touch as well; the wood splinters appropriately when a character is knocked to the ground, while coins in the treasure stage get tossed up as you walk around. The animations may be old, but still get the job done well (as they did in the original Tekken 5).
The audio, on the other hand, is not as spectacular. It is by no means bad, it’s simply nothing special. The music is high-quality, but still doesn’t surpass the stunning soundtrack of Tekken 2. The voiceovers are better than most other fighters out there though, and Alec Baldwin is the game’s celebrity announcer – not that anybody noticed, although a first for fighting games.
With a roster of dozens of characters, there are countless differing fighting styles to choose from. There have also been numerous additions to the cast: Eddie Gordo is now a separate character from Christie, unlike Tekken 5, and Lili and Sergei Dragunov are both completely new. Armor King has received several changes so his move set is not the same of King’s, and Jinpachi Mishima, the boss character, is now playable exclusively in the PS3 version. His moves aren’t all that fascinating, though it’s ALWAYS fun to play as an overpowered magma man.
Characters are now customizable with different items, outfits, and accessories. These can all be bought with a sort of currency you earn after winning battles. You can also use this money to buy movies and other goodies from a store within the game. It’s a nice touch, which will hopefully evolve into a full-fledged character creation mode in Tekken 6.
There are three selectable modes – arcade, ghost, and versus. Arcade is your standard series of increasingly harder opponents until you reach the boss. The difficulty is hard enough to be a real challenge, but not so hard as to be needlessly frustrating. Ghost mode is where you’ll want to spend your time with the game though, similar to the Quest mode from Virtua Fighter 5 (only more simplistic). It emulates the feeling of gaming with another friend while remaining purely single-player. The true value of the title lies within multiplayer though, as it has unlimited replayability. From the abundance of characters to choose from to the nearly non-existent loading times (due to the game residing on the HDD), there is nothing better than relaxing with a buddy and playing round after round after round.Technical masters and button mashers can even spar thanks to the adjustable handicaps.
As a downloadable title, it’s understandable that all of the extra modes that we saw in past Tekken games weren’t included (Time Trial, Survival), but it’s tough to get over the loss of a training mode. What’s so typically great about Tekken is that the controls allow for anyone to pick up and play, with serious depth that aspiring experts will want to discover. Without a training mode, it’s much harder to learn the nuances of a character (if you consider a 10-hit combo a nuance).
In the end, it all boils down to these two questions: Is it Tekken 5.5? Yes. Is it worth $20? Without a doubt. With enhanced visuals, a larger cast of characters, and the Tekken gameplay we all love, this is the best PSN title yet.