Given how the first Tekken launched — and cemented its legacy — on the original PlayStation, and how almost every PlayStation console launch after had a Tekken title ready at release day, it’s understandable how the franchise is near the hearts of PlayStation gamers everywhere.
Well, the 3D fighting behemoth is back with Tekken 7! PlayStation LifeStyle was invited last week to Bandai Namco’s product showcase event held in Singapore, and we managed to get some hands-on time with the upcoming fighter.
For starters, it’s Tekken, so fans around the world know what to expect. It’s already out in (some) arcades, too, so if you’re very curious as to how it plays, go find some arcades that have it. Now for those who haven’t played it yet, Tekken 7 is actually the ninth entry in the franchise, and the first to use Epic’s Unreal Engine.
Aside from the new game engine, Tekken 7 also employs a couple of new game-changing features. The first one is called “Rage Art,” and is akin to Street Fighter’s Ultra special moves. Rage Arts are quite easy to perform (usually by pressing two face buttons along with one specific direction) and deal massive (around 30 percent) damage if it connects. In contrast to how ultimate special moves work in other fighting games, there’s no “super” meter to fill up (unless you’re playing as Akuma) to use a Rage Art, but it’s “activated” once a player’s health bar is in critical (signaled by the player’s health bar flashing).
In addition to Rage Arts, another new feature is called “Rage Drive” which is sort of like the EX moves from Street Fighter, and deals significant damage with one blow and will leave an opponent vulnerable to combos if it connects. It doesn’t seem to need a wind up like the Rage Art, and is different for each character (Gigas for example, has a ranged Rage Drive). Oh, and it also doesn’t seem to be as unforgiving if you whiff one compared to Rage Arts, which leaves you open if it doesn’t connect.
Lastly, the other new gameplay mechanic introduced is the “Power Crush,” which lets players attacking to continue their barrage even when hit by an enemy. While your move and onslaught might continue unperturbed, you will still take damage and it only works for mid and high attacks (throws and low attacks will interrupt it). Add these new gameplay mechanics into Tekken‘s already robust fighting system, and it gets even deeper. With Rage Arts, fights become more tense as the losing player can unleash one single move that, if it connects, might even the odds. Of course, fighting game fans might see this and be worried about game balance, but so far so good, it doesn’t seem to be overpowered just yet.
During my hands-on time, which was played on a standard PS4 (which I assume were debug units), it’s hard not to notice just how fantastic it looks, and how fluid the gameplay is. It’s so easy to play a Tekken game and just forget how seamless the controls are and what’s happening on-screen that we sometimes take it for granted. In Tekken 7, things are taken up a notch thanks to the Unreal Engine 4. Characters and stages look fantastic as before, but there’s a certain “grounded” feel to it.
Of course, once the actual fight starts, there’s no time to appreciate how everything looks. In my first fight, I picked one of my all-time favorite Tekken characters, Heihachi, I’m happy to say that ol’ grandpa can still kick a lot of ass. He’s still a high-damage dealing fighter and his signature combos still pack a wallop. I managed to connect his Rage Art against my foe and it was glorious. Mind, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t glorious for the other guy, but seeing it hit and me getting the KO mere inches from death? Yeah, it was definitely a highlight moment.
One other highlight was Akuma. While he’s no stranger to meeting Tekken fighters, Akuma’s moveset and even combos are lifted straight from Street Fighter’s. You can pretty much do the same combos available in Street Fighter in Tekken 7. He still has his hadoken, dragon punch and so on. While he doesn’t have a Rage Art per se, he does have a Super meter slowly fills up. It works — yep, you guessed it — like in Street Fighter.
Back in Style
Given how most of the people reading this are either people familiar with Tekken, or have already played it in arcades and just want to know if the home port is up to snuff (it is!), there’s not much else to say, is there? It feels like a Tekken game, plays like a Tekken game, but one added with a few significant features and looks damn amazing so far.
With 37 confirmed fighters and more on the way, and the usual slew of modes (Story, practice, online play and more), Tekken 7 might just be what the doctor ordered after Street Fighter V’s botched launch. Even if you’re not a hardcore fighting game fan, Tekken 7 should have enough meat in its bones to entice casual brawler fans to give it a spin.
Tekken 7 will be available this June 2 on the PS4, Xbox One and PC, and will be based on Tekken 7: Fated Retribution.
Travel and accommodations for the press event provided by Bandai Namco. Previewed on PS4