Here, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is no letdown. At the time of writing there are few European players to fight and we’ve had to open the connection speed filters to get any action going, but even with sub-optimal connections we’ve enjoyed smooth matches with barely any lag, and just a longer delay while the game goes through its initial sync. There’s also no tedious sitting in a lobby, either. Pick your characters and the game throws you into a virtual dojo, where you can practice your moves while waiting for another player to pick up your challenge.
While by default TTT2 is set to pitch you against adversaries of your own level or a couple of levels lower or higher, we still found ourselves mercilessly battered in many matches within seconds – a forcible reminder that no fighting game encourages the steamroller approach like Tekken. The trick is to either strike faster and harder or learn how to block, and really get to grips with how the different blows and timings work.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Fight Lab
Luckily, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is here to help. Most fighting games now have a practice mode, and some have tutorial or challenge missions. TTT2, however, goes one better with its single-player Fight Lab mode. Following the efforts of series stalwart Lee Chaolan – in his alternate Violet persona – it has you playing an experimental Combot, training him through a series of scenarios so that he can duke it out in the tough Tekken universe. Each chapter covers a basic skill set, from the simplest attacks and combos, through blocks and counters to some of the more complex systems in the game.
The amazing thing about Fight Lab is that where most tutorial modes are a bore, Fight Lab is challenging and fun. After some initial bewilderment you learn to love the weird hand-drawn cut-scenes and oddball humour, and you come away from a Fight Lab session feeling more knowledgeable and capable than before.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Characters
Tekken’s character roster is, as with Streetfighter’s, amongst the best and most iconic in the business. Few fighting games can muster characters as memorable as Law, Paul Phoenix, Jack, Yoshimitsu and Kazuya, or weirdos quite as weird as King, Mokujin, Dragunov and Panda. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 doesn’t introduce new members to the cast, but it does cherry-pick the finest stars from Tekkens past, including Bob, Lars, Miguel, Alisa and Zafina. Of course, you can argue that many are variations on the same theme, particularly when you have Kazuya and Devil Kazuya, Law and Forest Law and King and Armour King, but go deeper and there are always different moves or subtly different play styles. Many fighters struggle to differentiate and balance eight or twelve characters. The fact that TTT2 does such a good job with 50 is close to a miracle.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Graphics
Graphically, Tekken has at last caught up with Soul Calibur IV and Soul Calibur V. Characters are the most realistic they’ve ever been – or at least as realistic as boxing kangaroos, giant kung-fu lizards and batwing-sporting demi-demons get – the effects are stunning and lavish, and the arenas are packed with wondrous details. You’ll find fights taking place on rooftop terraces, in front of a cocktail-sipping crowd, in flamenco bars with dancers twirling in the background, and even in something that looks an awful lot like Rome’s Trevi fountain. Sometimes you wish everyone would just stop scrapping so that you could pause and admire the view.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is not beyond reproach. If you’ve had your fill of fighting games and you’re looking for a genre-busting title, this is not the game for you. The same applies if you want a rich single-player experience. Yet Namco's latest has the feel of a Tekken’s greatest hits, with all the fist-smacking, knee-cracking music you know and love, plus a few back-breaking songs you might not have remembered. It might not put Tekken back on top of the beat’em up pile, but for the first time in years it feels like a real contender.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Verdict
The strongest Tekken since Tekken 3, and an incredibly generous package of characters, stages and game modes. There’s a steep difficulty curve for newcomers, with a definite focus on online and offline versus play, but the excellent Fight Lab mode gives players a chance to build and refine their skills, while the reworked tag-team mechanics add a twist to the established Tekken formula. It doesn’t topple Streetfighter IV as the king of fighting games, but Tekken Tag Tournament 2 puts Namco’s old fighter firmly back on the map.
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