Namco’s Tekken V was released without much fanfare lately, which is really too bad, since this game equals two things – first, it’s likely to be the best fighting game of 2005, and second, it completely redeems a franchise that has had several black eyes in the past. Let me take on the second comment first, redemption. Redemption is what the Tekken franchise has sorely needed since the recent games in the series have been dyed-in-the-wool stinkers. Tekken V is going to rebuild the franchise’s name, while showing other developers how to make an actually enjoyable fighter that doesn’t rely on bouncing boobies as its gimmick.
Now, back to the first remark that Tekken V will be the game to beat in 2005, yes I’m totally serious when I say that. This game is like combat poetry; it’s got a flow and feel that I just can’t see being beaten by anything else this year.
Rather than go into every nitty gritty detail about each of the game’s elements, let me sum it up here: excellent combo system, plenty of unique characters, gobs of unlockables and graphics that’ll make you weep when you realize you’re playing on the supposedly graphically deficient PlayStation 2. Now that that’s out of the way, let me get somewhat poetic about the game.
Tekken V beats out other fighters because frankly, it flows like a good fighter should. Rather than being a button-masher, Tekken V forces players to fight a veritable combat ballet. Players must keep continually on the move, probing for weaknesses with a jab here and a lung kick there. Like gladiators of old, players must continually circle one another, launching a deadly onslaught, and praying that the series of attacks isn’t quickly countered. No amount of random button hits will keep a player alive against the AI. The combat system is rich and varied, yet it allows for even the novice fighter to quickly learn to defend himself, and launch powerful combos. This is a game that requires thoughtful maneuvering, not just throwing jump kicks and hoping one scores. The AI is fast and brutal, playing to each character’s and player’s strengths and weaknesses. You may win one early fight by playing sloppy, but from then on, it’s time to grow up, or be beaten continually by the relentless AI.
The learning curve for Tekken V is neither shallow nor steep, but gradual, meaning you and a friend can have an enjoyable afternoon of launching attacks and counterattacks, without fearing one may fall behind while the other quickly becomes dominant. At DailyGame, myself and another editor spent an afternoon challenging one another, finding that no single attack could be held onto as a favorite, as we’d quickly learn to defend and counterattack against the player who was becoming overreliant on the single move. Likewise, the player relying on the single defense would find it quickly broken. There’s not room for lazy play in this game.
Tekken’s environments and player models are stunning to look at. They should be taken as a model of how the PlayStation 2 can hold out in the “Hi Definition Era.” Motion is buttery smooth, and watching the fluidity of a well-executed combo is a sight to behold.
Deciding to give Tekken V a really deep trial, we decided to invite a few other players into the review mix. This gang of additional “testers” consisted of casual gamers, who had played several other fighting franchises, but were not dedicated disciples to any specific fighter. Each had played at least four other fighting titles on Xbox and PS2. The quotes we heard were certainly in agreement with how we felt towards Tekken V.
“Better than the DOA games, this one forces you to actually learn to fight.”
“Is this an Xbox game? Look at how cool it looks!”
“Wow, I have to actually fight, instead of watch boobs bounce”
“This game is hard, but it’s so fun, I’m not frustrated”
“No gimmicks in this game like blood or boobs, it’s just really good.”
So, to wrap it all up, Tekken V is almost the complete fighting package. I say “almost” because it offers no online gameplay, and is limited to the PlayStation 2. This is one of those games that would’ve been amazing online, and it feels like a letdown to be only able to enjoy it offline. We have nothing against the PS2, and understand the idea of exclusive titles, but it feels like a crime for Tekken V to not be accessible to gamers on other platforms. In the end, however, if you have a PS2, you can’t go wrong with this game.
- Gameplay: 9
- Pure fighting magic, no gimmics..
- Graphics: 9
- If you have Hi-Def (or even if you don’t), it’s awesome to behold
- Sound: 8
- Good sounds, good music, fun voicework
- Replay: 9
- A rich combat system will have you playing AI and human opponents until you’re blue in the face
- Overall: 9.1
- Solid fighting satisfation. Good luck to any other fighter released this year.
— Craig Falstaff