What separates a great fighting game from a mediocre one? Like the racing game genre, it's one that's cluttered with offerings that only differ in characters and backgrounds to the casual viewer. Your mom probably can't tell the difference between "Street Fighter x Tekken
," "Mortal Kombat
," and the new "Tekken Tag Tournament 2," now available for the PS3, Xbox 360, and soon available for the just-announced Nintendo Wii U. Only the people who know their favorite characters and have mastered their best combo moves know why one game works and another falls. Generally, we like the fighting games that are easiest to play -- the ones that we can master in competition as opposed to the ones that frustrate with overly difficult combos or unresponsive controls. Namco Bandai's "Tekken Tag Tournament 2" has its frustrating elements (mostly visual) but it is undeniably a game that's built around the core of fighting. Forget extra modes or story or any of that nonsense. This game wants you train, master, and compete. And fans of this franchise will be addicted to it for months.
- Publisher: Namco Bandai
- Developer: Namco Bandi
- ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
- Genre: Fighting Games
- Pros: Deep Customization, Gigantic Fighter Roster, Fun Combat Arenas
- Cons: Mediocre Graphics, Lack of Variety, Feeling That You've Already Played It
Most of the modes in "Tekken Tag Tournament 2" (Arcade, Ghost, Survival, etc.) can be played offline or online and the division is simple. Train in the former and put that training to use against real opponents in the latter. The best place to start is the "Fight Lab" mode, which is essentially a tutorial to learn individual combatants' moves. One can also easily dive into Arcade mode offline and build up characters and their skills through increasingly-difficult combat. Nothing here will be surprisingly presented to anyone even remotely familiar with the fighting game genre -- for better and worse.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2Image © Namco Bandai
It helps to be familiar with "Tekken," one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time. To be honest, it took this "Mortal Kombat" lover some time to adjust to the different fighting style here, one that has a different pace and rhythm than other combat titles. Sure, some of the characters are quicker than others, but there's a precision required to succeed here that is a bit unique to the "Tekken" genre. Overall, the mechanics are tight and responsive, the most important thing that one can say about a fighting game. "Tekken" fans will be satisfied with the actual combat.
What's new for those fans? The tag team structure is still there but it can be modified in this sequel to be two-on-one or even traditional solo fighter combat. The game also boasts the largest playable roster in "Tekken" history, including more than 50 characters, and an amazing array of arenas in which to fight.
Like most modern fighting games, "Tekken Tag Tournament 2" emphasizes online play. You can even have four players compete in one fight -- 2 vs. 2 -- and join the "World Tekken Federation," which allows personal and customized profiles and amazingly deep statistics. You can examine your performance with different characters or study your greatest enemy's strengths and weaknesses. Leaderboards, Twitter updates, battle histories, real-time updated statistics -- each new fighting game attempts to offer more in the online community and "TTT 2" is no different.
Graphics & Sound
My biggest problem with "Tekken Tag Tournament 2" is visual. The character animations are good and the backgrounds are nice but there's an oddly dated look to a lot of the graphics, especially in slow-motion. Why does my fighter have to disappear into the ground when he gets knocked out? Why does it rarely look like my fist is actually hitting my opponent's face? The graphics seem more like something that someone would see in an arcade in 2007 than on a PS3 in 2012. And the sound is similarly mediocre. The depth of presentation in "Tekken Tag Tournament 2" is remarkable but its the quality of said presentation that doesn't compare to the best fighting games on the market.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2Image © Namco Bandai
"Tekken Tag Tournament 2" kind of feels like its preaching to the choir. It's clearly not designed to bring in new players as much as it is to satisfy those already addicted to "Tekken." The developers could have attempted both, offering a few new modes and better graphics to entice those exhausted with "Mortal Kombat," but it's hard to be too critical of a game that's designed to satisfy loyal fans of a long-term franchise. Yes, it kind of feels like anyone who's played a "Tekken" game has already played "Tekken Tag Tournament 2" but true fans of the series are unlikely to care.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy