Developer: Bandai Namco – Publisher: Bandai Namco Platforms: Xbox ONE, PlayStation 4, PC Reviewed On: Xbox ONE
As they are apt to do, Bandai Namco has released yet another entry into the TEKKEN series. TEKKEN 7 continues the story of the feud between father and son Heihachi Mishima and Kazuya Mishima. The story begins with Jin Kazama going missing in the Middle East after his fight with the demon Azazel from TEKKEN 6. In an effort to maintain his power and locate his grandson Jin, Heihachi Mishima retakes his role as leader of the Mishima Zaibatsu. And of course, G Corp leader Kazuya Mishima seeks to stop his plans to locate Jin and finally win the war that has been raging between the two factions.
In this game, we are introduced to the story by a crestfallen reporter who lost his family in the war between the Mishima Zaibatsu and the G Corporation. You follow his quest to expose the Mishimas for the monsters they really are. Sounds pretty rough, right? Well, the reporter’s voice certainly does not capture the gravity of this. It is the most boring and unemotional narration you could imagine. A rock has more feelings than the voice acting! Everything is delivered in a bland, monotone way and it simply does not lend itself to this type of story at all.
But to make a long story short, Lee Chaolan, Heihachi’s adopted son, is able to capture Jin with the help of Lars Alexandersson and foils Heihachi’s plans. All the while, our reporter friend is staying with Lee in order to gain information about the Mishimas. By the way, after every story chapter (there’s 14) we get a cut-scene narrated by our as-interesting-as-a-cardboard-box reporter. Fantastic… Now we come to something I just don’t get, why the hell is Akuma from Street Fighter in this game? For whatever reason they do some pointless tie in with him saying he owed Heihachi’s dead wife Kazumi a favor and now seeks to kill Heihachi and Kazuya for her. Anyway, there’s some big fight between him and Heihachi, same with Kazuya later. None of them die in the course of this, however. Continuing with this, our reporter friend is able to interview Heihachi and learns that Heihachi murdered his wife Kazumi because she transformed into a devil and tried to kill him. Now we know where Kazuya and Jin get their temper from… Anyway, more character development, banter etc. until we get to a final fight between Heihachi and Kazuya, in a volcano of all places.
(SPOILER ALERT BELOW)
Now we can talk about one of the most unfair fights I’ve seen in a fighter. The battle starts out simple enough, just a standard fight between Heihachi, who you control, and Kazuya. There’s a cut-scene once you get Kazuya low enough. Then his devil eye opens and you have to fight him again while he has use of an eye laser. The third stage comes after this and Kazuya transforms into his full devil form and you have to fight him again. And finally, when it looks like it’s over for Heihachi, he gives it one last shot and fights Kazuya at his full power. Once Kazuya’s health is down by about half, he goes into a state where he cannot not be interrupted or knocked down by your moves and he will spam his rage arts. It’s incredibly frustrating because you need enough health left to survive his attacks at this stage. He also will use a rage art that’s a KO if you get hit. God forbid you’re in the middle of a combo. You can block it, but it happens quite fast. Finally, when he’s low enough, you’ll get a button prompt to use your rage art. Unfortunately, Heihachi loses anyway and Kazuya dumps him in the volcano’s lava. You do also get a special fight with Kazuya against Akuma, but it’s about as unfair as the previous fight so I’ll just skip that bit.
Anyway, that’s about it for the story. Our tiresome reporter spills to the world who the Mishima’s really are and what the war was about. That’s most of the epilogue by the way, just the reporter talking. Then it ends with a cliffhanger of Jin, Lee, and Lars on a rooftop with Jin preparing to end the way by using his devil powers. And that’s it, the ending leaves a lot to be desired, guess TEKKEN 8 is coming then. This is turning into Dynasty Warriors…
(SPOILER ALERT OVER)
I was also disappointed that few of the characters in the roster appear in the story. Why put all that in if they’re only going to show up in other modes? They do put in this character episode feature, which is a character specific fight with a cut-scene before and after, but it literally takes five minutes for each episode. It’s not particularly interesting and it seems like it was tacked on so they could say “See, they’re in the story!” Some of them are funny, but it’s just not enough.
Let’s talk gameplay. It plays like any other TEKKEN and Bandai Namco once again shows off its ability to make fighters good. Combos are smooth and use timing very well. And as usual each fighter has a large number of combos for a variety of play styles. The character animations during fights look good, smooth and natural. Size of the fighter matters too, smaller fighters have quick combos and can string together low power attacks well. Bigger fighters are slow but have short combos with large power attacks that deal a lot of damage at once. Voice acting is great for the characters too, Eddy’s could be better but it’s probably hard to find a Portuguese voice actor. The Rage Arts are a nice touch as well, similar to the super moves that Netherrealm has in Mortal Kombat and Injustice. These can also be blocked or canceled with well timed attacks. Each one is unique to the fighter and provides a way to make fights more interesting.
Moving on to the offline modes. Offline offers four modes, Arcade, Treasure Battle, Practice, and a standard 2 player offline battle mode. Arcade is the TEKKEN staple, you fight a series of fighters and a final boss. In this game you fight Kazumi at the end. In Treasure Battle you fight a series of fighters to earn fight money and unlock character gear to customize fighters. More on that later. The last two modes are fairly self-explanatory.
Online is fairly basic, there’s Ranked Match, unranked Player Match, Tournament, and the Leaderboard. Ranked is exactly as it sounds, you fight an online opponent and if you win your rank goes up, lose and it goes down and its very intense and competitive. Matchmaking can take a long time at higher connection quality parameters, lowering it speeds the time up but you’re more likely to disconnect or have lag issues. I was not impressed with the matchmaking myself. Player match is unranked and is simply for fun, you can also use your customized character for this. It has the same matchmaking issues but you can make custom sessions and invite other players or make it open to join. Strangely, there is a text chat feature on the console platforms of this game and PC. It didn’t seem like players were using it. Finally, there is a tournament mode where you fight a series of other players and try to get to the top. You can also do custom tournaments. This can be fun if you’ve got the time to spend playing. Unfortunately there is no co-op or team mode in this game, so it feels quite bare.
And now for the last meaty bit, customization. There is extensive character customization of the existing roster in this game. First, you can customize your player profile. You can change health bar designs, player title, and player badge (this shows your rank in the pre-fight screen). These can be unlocked or purchased with fight money, which you gain from playing the game. Second, you can also customize the character roster. There are several clothing and accessory options for you to unlock and purchase. Each character has unique items, there are also some items that can be used by all characters. You can even change the particle effects of attacks and the character picture that is displayed on the pre-fight screen.
Overall, TEKKEN 7 is a decent game and a good fighter. The story is interesting and finally wraps up the feud between Heihachi and Kazuya. It works even though the narrator is awfully boring and the ending leaves a lot on the table. Gameplay is top-notch as usual from Bandai Namco. TEKKEN’s gameplay has always been is calling card. Few characters contribute to the story and the lackluster Character Episodes don’t make up for it. Offline provides continued playability but only has two single player modes and they’re basically the same. Online can be entertaining if you’re into competitive play, but the matchmaking is simply too slow. I do like the customization feature, it can provide lots of entertainment with how ridiculous some of the options are and provides a reason to continue playing.
THE FINAL VERDICT: 7/10
Don’t get me wrong, TEKKEN 7 is a good and entertaining game. Most of it is well done, but there’s a lot of little things that I feel are either wrong or just not finished. The story narrator, the pointless Street Fighter tie in with Akuma, the lack of modes and poor utilization of the other characters bring this game down from what would otherwise be an 8 or 9. I’ve always been a TEKKEN fan but I’ve got to be honest, this game is disappointing…