Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Review – PS3
We’ve never been dismissive of the Tekken series – in fact, some might say we’re quite effusive with our praise. But we were ready to meet Tekken Tag Tournament 2 with something approaching grudging anticipation. We wanted it. We wanted to play it. We were excited by what it would bring. But there was little heart; little genuine enthusiasm backing up this rote selection of responses to an upcoming sequel.
We’ve barely stopped playing Tekken Tag Tournament 2 since it arrived. Now we have egg on our faces simply for not being excited enough in the first place. It’s not often that happens.
Bringing together almost every character from Tekken’s past (we’re missing Gon, mind you), TTT2 is a huge love letter to one of the most-celebrated fighting franchises on PlayStation. If you’ve ever loved King’s stalling suplex, Jack’s Cossack dance, Lei’s drunken master…ness or the fact that Kuma is a bear, you’re likely to find something to love here.
Beyond just being a sequel to the ultimately throwaway original Tekken Tag Tournament, released back in the early days of the PS2, this is a more fleshed-out, less sideshow attraction version than what came before.
Players pick a team of two characters, as before, but this time around the duo is capable of more in the way of team attacks – some even specific to particular duos. Then there’s the tag combos, which can be activated by using Tekken 6’s ‘bound’ moves, and add in switch-in, switch-out quick hits to keep things interesting. And more juggly, obviously.
Of course, you can always opt to go solo, which results in missing out on the tag-specific moves and combos and, of course, the ability to switch characters. But the bonus it brings is increased hitting power and the ability to take more hits before a KO. It’s a balance, and it’s one that adds yet another layer of strategic thinking to the game – one we didn’t even consider beforehand.
Aside from the aforementioned new elements, we’re looking at Tekken as usual. It’s less tech than the likes of Virtua Fighter, but that means it’s a more open playing field for those of differing skill levels – even beginners are capable of beating the mighty Play, at least sometimes (N.B. only if they’re spamming Eddy/Christie/Tiger/Hwoarang). It’s a juggle frenzy of high-impact, spectacular moves from a well-balanced character set. There are the odd ones, here and there, that feel a bit off and flying kicks are still hugely overpowered, but at no point did we feel we had selected a character that was utterly useless. Not even stupid, rubbish, boring Paul.
The winds of fashion
Throughout your brawls you will be constantly picking up credits. “But why?” you might wonder, “what could I possibly do wi…” YOU CAN BUY A SIREN TO PUT ON YOUR HEAD. Play dress up and make badass characters look like idiots. Give King weird real animal legs. Give the raptor Alex a T-Rex head. In fact, more than just messing about with how the characters look, you can also give them useable weapons, like a paint gun or trombone. It’s willfully dumb in the most part, but it does give you more personal ownership on the characters you’ll inevitably take online.
It’s not just straight-up battering each other, though, with Tekken Tag Tournament 2 offering a ton of content beyond its standard arcade and versus modes. The most interesting and – dare we say it – important addition has to be the Fight Lab.
Here players take control of Combot as they learn how to do basic, advanced and irritatingly difficult techniques in a number of challenges. It’s aimed at getting newcomers accustomed to how Tekken plays in a more structured fashion than the more freeform training mode, but it offers something for experts too. Mainly because it’s surprisingly difficult. But also because you can build Combot into your own character, bestowing up the robo-brawler the moves you see fit to give it and taking said creation into actual, proper fights. It’s a really good system, which surprised us somewhat, and would be a welcome addition to many other fighting games.
You will, however, encounter a point when you want to throw TTT2, or your pad, or your console, or your TV, or your cat out of the window. This point is called ‘when you fight the last boss’. We’re undecided where she ranks in the bastard-o-meter when compared to Azazel or Jinpachi, but there’s no doubting it is a challenge that removes much of the fairness and replaces it with cheap, impossible-to-avoid attacks and ridiculously-ranged hits.
But that, along with the remaining inability to accurately judge where Ogre’s hitboxes are, doesn’t exactly detract much of anything from the game as a whole. You’ll be annoyed, you might even turn off out of sheer frustration, but this is less than a single per cent of the massive amount of game. It just doesn’t matter.
Because there’s so much elsewhere to love, to enjoy, to lose yourself to for those glorious 20-minute blocks where nothing outside just playing a game matters. So much to practice (what do you mean King has other throwing combos?), so many nuances of the tag system to pick up on, so much timing to perfect and so, so many wigs to put on dinosaurs.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will last you a long time, and all throughout that long time you’ll be having a good one. Once again, we’re being quite effusive with our praise.
Far from being the sideshow attraction the word ‘spin-off’ might suggest, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is actually pretty damn brilliant. Some brilliant underlying mechanics support a generous amount of content in a package that helps you realise sometimes you just want to play a game.