Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tekken 4

I’m at a bit of an impasse here, as I have made it my mission this year to automatically do a review of every video game I beat, and yet I’m fully aware that it’s largely missing the point to be playing a fighting game on single player mode only, particularly when over half a decade of avoidance (this is literally the first time I’ve played a fighting game since all of my college friends graduated before me in 2003 -- well, outside of Smash Brothers) has led to my fighting game skills very badly atrophying. Still, if nothing else I owe it to my own perverse sense of self-hatred, and so you can all enjoy what is no doubt going to be one of my more awkward reviews of the year.

For those that don’t play many video games, Tekken is a long-running series of semi-3D fighting games that features a fine blend of real martial arts styles and video gamey violence. It also, as tends to be the problem for a series with so many playable characters, has an increasingly convoluted and insane storyline, filled with robots and devil energy and there’s two bears that have their own storylines and several of the endings overlap and I don’t know what else is going on.

I made sure to play the game through once with each character, both to get a feel for everyone and to see all the endings, and Namco seems to have done a good job of making a character for pretty much anyone’s preferred fighting style. There’s the standard mix of strong-but-slow and fast-but-weak fighters, a Bruce Lee clone, a Jackie Chan clone, a robot that keeps switching to a different character’s fighting style with each new fight (one of the more frustrating characters to try to beat the game with), and Yoshimitsu, who has now added to his repertoire of swordplay and teleportation some freaking giant insect wings and a voice that makes him seem like he’s auditioning to be a new Protoss unit. He just wasn’t ponderous enough beforehand, I suppose.

While most of the characters from Tekken 3 have returned, there has been some replacement with different characters. Eddy’s gone, though he’s been replaced by his protégé Christie, who has the same capoeira fighting style while also dressing like a stripper, so it’s really an upgrade there. Gun Jack is also gone, but since Kuma and Panda both have the same moveset he was kind of redundant anyway. Really, the only thing I’m very much upset about so far as vanishing characters goes is the news that Armor King was killed in some lame bar room brawl by new character Marduk, who’s one of the stereotypical strong-and-slow guys (he towers over all the other characters), and isn’t very interesting at all. Somewhat better is Steve, a British boxer who doesn’t have much of a story line, but has a neat fighting style (he doesn’t kick, except when getting up off the ground -- instead, the kick buttons just have him duck his head to the left or right to set up more powerful punches).

The gameplay is largely the same as in the previous games, with a couple minor modifications. It’s still largely 2D with the ability to swerve into the foreground or background, which means that whenever I fought on higher difficulties any time I fought a faster opponent they’d just spin all around me whenever I tried to attack and made me look like a jerk. That stupid girl Xiaoyu was particularly annoying at this, as she’s such a small opponent to begin with that it was sometimes a struggle just to keep her from getting a Perfect on me. The levels now also have some barriers to them, so that you can sometimes deal extra damage to your opponent by smashing him into a statue or pillar or the wall. Of course, the same thing can just as easily happen to you, so you have to constantly watch where you are on the level.

I’m not sure what else there is to really say. It’s a very fun game, and there’s a lot of variety to the different fighting styles (though you can get pretty far on Easy with most characters just by doing basic kicks and grabs), though playing a fighting game by myself didn’t really give me the best possible experience the game could have offered. Still, if you happen to enjoy fighting games, it will make a fine addition to your library, though I suspect if you like fighting games and have a Playstation 2 then you’ve already picked this one up. Still, enjoy the confirmation of your good taste here!

Rating: *** ½

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