Tekken Tag Tournament 2
REVIEW: One of the most successful and memorable fighting games of its time, the original Tekken Tag Tournament (1999) reunited nearly every character in the franchise to date, presenting an extravagant 39 playable characters and an engaging new tag-team gameplay system. The highly anticipated sequel has finally graced our consoles, packing over 50 dynamic fighters from series history. Utilizing tried and true elements from past installments as a strong foundation, the feature-rich console version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 packs a punch.
I'd like to begin this review by talking about one of the things I love most about Tekken. As far as fighting games go, besides Street Fighter... Tekken is probably the "most consistent" series in history. As someone who played the prequel (Tekken 6) regularly up until TTT2's release, I get to jump right in and start having fun immediately. With no learning curve required, I can already use all of my favorite characters and combos just the way I remember them. I don't have to completely "relearn" anything... I only have to make a few small adjustments, note some move properties that changed, get acquainted with new attacks & combos possibilities, and the rest is just gravy!
This idea of "slightly updated but not completely reinvented" gameplay and characters has been a tradition of Tekken since its humble beginnings, and the dedicated players around the world certainly appreciate it. The thing is, if you haven't played a Tekken game in a while, special move commands you may recall from the early days (Tekken 1/2/3) are most likely still the same! This means that if you've ever played a Tekken game in your life, you at least have a starting point if you're looking to get back into the game! Additionally, the updated Tag System actually makes insanely-badass-looking juggles easier to learn and perform.
Just as it did for Tekken 3 in 1999, the Tag mechanics add an entirely new complexity to the staple gameplay mechanics of Tekken 6. Due to the vast development of each character's moveset over the last decade, simply being able to "swap out" fighting styles mid-fight (potentially to characters that have a completely different strategies and flow) creates such a unique competitive experience... even before we factor in the various new Tag techniques & strategies themselves. Since TTT2 was released in Asian arcades exactly 1 year before the console release, top players of Japan, Korea and elsewhere had plenty of time to test the game, thus enabling Namco to patch out bugs and overpowered combos in time for the console release. The result is one of the most balanced (and fun) Tekken games to date.
Besides your basic tag-in/tag-out mechanics, TTT2's Tag Assault system enables your partner to jump in during the midst of a combo to extend it with their own flavor, opening the door to potentially limitless combo possibilities and "combo mix-ups". This really promotes what I like to call "combo creativity," which means it's less likely to see the "same old combo" over and over again. The combo "chemistry" between any given 2 characters alone equates to an amazing variety of juggles. Factor in that there are over 1000 different team combinations, and you can see how things can get a little crazy. Once you comprehend the combo "sandbox" that Tekken Tag 2 provides, you may start to daydream about combos when you're not playing. (The cool part about that is, many of those combos you conjure up may actually end up working!)
To balance things out, using Tag Assault gives up your tagged out character's "red life" (which otherwise can be recovered while on the sidelines). This means players have to strategize and balance out the risk/reward of Tag Assault. Another new technique, Tag Crash, enables your partner to enter the fight safely, but also sacrifices red life. Building upon Tekken 6's wall game and floor-break system, TTT2 throws breakable balconies into the mix. After a character knocks their opponent through a balcony, their teammate can continue the combo on the ground below, or set up a powerful (or strategic) follow-up attack. Although Tekken arguably "borrowed" the idea of multi-tiered stages from the DOA series, the straight-forward gameplay of Tekken still dominantly takes priority.
To a casual onlooker, the constant back-and-forth air juggles in Tekken may (still) seem silly, intimidating, and/or overpowered. The truth is... juggles (still) aren't everything. As always, players with superior movement & spacing abilities, sidestep timing, and mix-up strategies will claim more victories. There's also still an important place for those single-hit, powerful knock-back techniques, sweeping & footsies, wake-up game, ground game, and throws... yeah, I said it.... THROWS!!! You better learn how to break throws, because the all new tag throws are just too awesome not to perform.
An awesome variety of hard-hitting, and occasionally hilarious tag-team throw techniques become available when using specific team combinations. Not only are the animations for these tag throws awesome, but the respective "throw break" animations for successfully defended throws are pure entertainment. Additionally, Rage/Netsu Mode (returning from TTT1 & T6) also functions depending on the "relationship" of your characters... more specifically, whether or not they currently "like" each other. Basically, if a character is paired up with someone that likes them, their Netsu will be activated earlier than with someone that dislikes them (check out the TTT2 Allegiance Chart for more information on this system).
While learning and memorizing a character's 100+ moves can be a daunting task and surely intimidating for a beginner... it's best to keep in mind that we all had to start somewhere when we first learned how to Shoryuken! Unlike SC5, character movesets haven't been streamlined or downsized. Instead, returning T6 characters have been given anywhere between 3 to 10 new moves. Other classics making their next-gen debut, like: Jun Kazama, Jinpachi, Kunimitsu & Ogre have a multitude of new moves/animations... they're entirely new characters when it comes down to it, but also share some recognizable attacks from other fighters (making the overall learning curve just a little easier). Casual players should also keep in mind that you're not required to learn all the moves or characters to enjoy the game. Fighting against the diverse martial artists of Tekken should be rewarding in and of itself (especially when you play against players that know what they're doing).
The animation of Tekken remains one of the game's strongest visual achievements. As always, you can really "feel the power" of those hard-hitting martial arts techniques, not only thanks to the smooth animation, but also in part to the classic "4 buttons assigned to 4 limbs layout," intuitively making button commands cleverly "feel" like the moves you're performing. Real life martial artists know what I'm talking about. In the visuals department, TTT2 presents a complete graphical overhaul from Tekken 6. Every single character and facial model was redone from the ground up. Overall, the game has a "sharper" visual appearance than its predecessor. As someone who pays very close attention to detail, I can tell that Namco had to cut some corners to allow 4 characters on screen at once (with no drop in frame rate at all). With that said, character models have slightly less rendering than those in Tekken 6. While character anatomy seems ever-so-slightly streamlined and some clothing textures appear fuzzy up close, superior shading and skin textures actually give characters a more realistic, "fleshy" appearance. The convincing shine on certain parts of clothing and armor, paired up with pleasantly exaggerated stage lighting effects on stages, actually makes characters appear sharper during gameplay than their predecessors in some instances.
While a beautiful and noticeably sharp game visually, TTT2 does suffer from aliasing (on both systems). Those unsightly jaggy edges are noticeable primarily on dark stages, and on characters with lots of fine details. Thankfully, once the fighters are in motion, it's hard to notice (and once again "motion blur" can be turned on/off). Thankfully, aliasing is hardly noticeable at all on the brighter stages, where the vivacious lighting effects steal the show. The 30+ distinctive background environments are interesting, moody, energetic (thanks in part to the killer BGMs), and possibly offer the best variety I've ever seen in a fighting game!!! Many stages feature interactive elements like sand, dirt, and water. The visual appearance of moisture and dirt on the fighters doesn't only look great, but is actually done in real time. Whatever part of a character's body touches the ground will be effected by the environment. For instance, if a character's left knee touches the muddy ground, only that knee will have dirt on it. Pretty cool stuff...
Returning from the previous 3 installments, Customization Mode once again evolves. With over 50 characters to customize and an exceedingly generous 10 creation slots per character, this mode will keep you busy! Once you learn your way around the clunky menu, you'll find TTT2's customize options better than they may seem at first. It actually took me a week before I figured out how to customize each hairstyle with bangs, sideburns & other accessories... because it's kind of a ridiculous process. (You have to buy the hair first, equip it, take a snapshot, then return to the Shop, where 2 new hair menus will magically appear!) There are indeed more hair options than in Tekken 6, but unfortunately there are limits in other areas. This time, hand/foot gear are paired with specific tops/bottoms, with no option to swap them out. While that's an obvious downgrade from T6, there are other aspects of TTT2's customization that succeed the prequel's.
Utilizing a similar layout to SC5, nearly all clothing items and default outfits can now be colorized with a full-spectrum color palette. It's actually an improvement over SC5's, because it automatically saves specific colors as you use them. For instance, let's say I found the perfect shade of purple for a jacket. That exact color will become selectable at the bottom of the screen; so if you want to add matching purple sunglasses & pants, it takes 3 seconds to do so. You can also permanently save 16 colors for quick access. As someone who's fond of most characters' default outfits, the new Color Edit option stands on its own as an excellent new feature in TTT2.
Customization offers some other exciting tools, such as: Versus screen panels featuring awesome character artwork that you can set to show up for your characters on the VS screen, hundreds of customizable a decals & logos you can add to clothing, heaps of ridiculous odd items & weapons (many which fighters actually hold in their hands) that enable the use of extra moves, taunts, etc. There are a ton of unlockable "fan service" items as well... just to name a few: decals, banners & flags featuring 8-bit Tekken characters and even old school Namco icons, Pac-Man and Dig Dug (one of my favorite games as a kid). The best part is, you're constantly unlocking new content as you play, adding a ton of replayability. Lastly, Customize also allows you to save your preset teams with specific customizations (up to 10).
While there are a number of cool-looking items to unlock in Customize, some of the clothing items look too bulky and stiff. Generic T-shirts and pants seem to oddly warp "around" the characters instead of fitting them properly. They're also graphically ugly, right along with some of the eerily plain 2P costumes (which I think would've been better left out of the game). With that said, there's a strange and noticeable graphical contrast between clothing items. On one hand, you have Anna's bikini top, which is so detailed that you can literally see the bikini tight on her skin... and on the other hand, boxy shirts that don't look like they fit the characters properly. The only other complaint I have is that load times are pretty long in customize. Nitpicking aside, at the end of the day I found myself happy with a lot of my character's customizations!
Hosting the epic return of Violet & Combot from Tekken 4, Fight Lab is your "Tekken Tutorial for Dummies". While being run through the fundamentals of Tekken, players will experience many laughable moments that hardly make sense, but are sure to entertain. All the while, you're constantly earning Fight Money & Combot Tuning points (used to customize your very own version of Combot)! In Combot Tuning Mode, you can purchase and unlock attacks from all of the other fighters (which have the same familiar move commands). You can also fully customize Combot visually in Customize Mode! Once your Combot is ready, you can select him as a normal character and face off against your friends in Versus, or even take on online opponents (in non-ranked matches). I personally think Fight Lab was a brilliant way to re-introduce Combot... I've been waiting for him to make a comeback for years. While Fight Lab is a pretty fun play through, I wish it had a bit more substance. I don't think it teaches beginners nearly enough of what they need to know for competitive gameplay.
With that said, there's still no actual "Tutorial" in TTT2. However, the new and improved Training Mode is your Tutorial! Like with previous Tekken games, Command Training conveniently demonstrates every move in the game (besides the secret hidden ones). You can also choose to train with move commands on-screen, or not. Attacks that allow tagging, bound, and sidestep homing moves now display icons for easy reference! Advanced Settings let you control the training dummy's actions in a variety of ways, and even in a specific order. The record function can be used in a variety of ways in training, and is an incredibly useful tool for serious players. As always, there are several sample combos per character to get you started with a new character, and if that's not enough, the Tekken community on Youtube has you covered the rest of the way! Any mainstream review declaring TTT2 lacks a Tutorial Mode, or that Namco isn't doing enough to help new players (IGN) are simply brain-dead. What's that old quote? "You can lead a horse to water... but you can't make him drink."
I apologize that this review is kind of long, but you can blame Namco for packing so much damn content into this game! TTT2 comes packed with all the staple modes: Team Battle, Survival, Time Attack, and Pair Play Mode (with up to 4 human players). You can even pair up with a local friend and test your skills online against other players. Unfortunately, you can't pair up with a player online though. Thanks to the generous allotted time given when activating Tag Assault after a bound, tag combos in Pair Play are actually relatively easy to connect! While playing TTT2 with my girlfriend (whom isn't a serious player), I was astonished that we were able to perform full-length tag combos time and time again. With a little more practice... she could be tournament-ready.
Tekken Tunes is one of my favorite new modes, and certainly one of the most innovative extra modes to ever appear in a fighting game! In Tekken Tunes, you can select ANY music currently on your console and set them as in-game BGMs for stages and various menus. Future DLC containing past Tekken soundtracks was also be made available for purchase if you want to go the nostalgia route. I find it a bit sad that many "mainstream" reviews of Tekken Tag 2 didn't even mention this mode, as if it didn't exist. It shouldn't be overlooked, because Tekken Tunes is an awesome, timeless feature that really extends the life of the game. Following in line with past console installments, TTT2 also features Theater Mode which allows you to view content such as past endings & intros, and listen to soundtracks from prequels - Another solid mode!
As far as presentation goes, Namco did the majority of things right. In Arcade Mode, every single character in the game has a full-length ending movie (each around 1-2 minutes long). I actually can't remember the last time I was actually satisfied with so many character endings in a fighting game. Although TTT2 isn't a "story driven" game (by design), most endings contain a lot of heart and fan service. The only thing I think Namco did wrong with Arcade Mode was the fact that opponents are customized (and they went overboard on many of them). Hey Namco... I don't want to fight Ganryu with a pink mohawk or Raven with a cowboy hat & wings in Arcade Mode. Goofball opponents like that should've been left for Ghost Battle, and these ugly customizations alone will probably turn off a few casual players who are expecting a well thought out "1-player experience". On the bright side, the silly custom characters won't show up in Time Attack or Pair Play mode. One more gripe I have about Arcade Mode is that rank promotion icons are way too large, and awkwardly interfere with the pre-fight character intros.
Page Updated: November 30th, 2013 Developer(s): Namco Bandai Publisher(s): Namco Bandai Artwork by: Mutsumi Inomata, Ito Oogure, Katsuya Terada, Simon Bisley, Ryouji Minagawa, Shigeto Koyama, Tomio Fujisawa, Junny, Shunya Yamashita Platform(s): Arcade, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U Release Date(s): September 14th, 2011 ( Arcade)
March 27th, 2012 ( Arcade - TTT2: Unlimited)
September 11th 2012 ( PS3/360)
September 14th, 2012 ( PS3/360)
November 18th, 2012 ( Wii U)
November 30th, 2012 ( Wii U)
December 8th, 2012 ( Wii U)
Characters: Jin Kazama, Kazuya Mishima, Heihachi Mishima, Jun Kazama, Jaycee, Lars, Alisa, Leo, Zafina, Miguel, Bob, Asuka Kazama, Bryan Fury, Lili, Hwoarang, Baek Doo San, Dragunov, Steve Fox, Ling Xiaoyu, Devil Jin, Paul Phoenix, Bruce Irvin, Marshall Law, Lei Wulong, Lee Chaolan, King, Kuma, Panda, Jack-6, Craig Marduk, Ganryu, Roger Jr., Raven, Eddy Gordo, Christie Monteiro, Feng Wei, Wang Jinrei, Nina Williams, Anna Williams, Armor King, Yoshimitsu, Mokujin, Jinpachi Mishima, True Ogre, Unknown, Combot, Michelle, Kunimitsu, Angel, Ogre, Forest Law, P. Jack, Alex, Tiger, Violet, Dr. Boskonovitch, Sebastian, Slim Bob, Miharu
Related Games: Tekken Tag Tournament, Tekken, Tekken 2, Tekken 3, Tekken 4, Tekken 5, Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection, Tekken: Dark Resurrection, Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection Online, Tekken 6, Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion, Tekken Advance, Tekken Hybrid, Tekken 3D: Prime Edition, Tekken Revolution, Street Fighter X Tekken, Soul Calibur 5, Dead or Alive 5, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown
Gameplay Engine 9.5 / 10 Story / Theme 8.5 / 10 Overall Graphics 8.5 / 10 Animation 9 / 10 Music / Sound Effects 9.5 / 10 Innovation 9.5 / 10 Art Direction 9.5 / 10 Customization 9 / 10 Options / Extras 9.5 / 10 Intro / Presentation 8.5 / 10 Replayability / Fun 10 / 10 "Ouch" Factor 10 / 10 Characters 10 / 10
9.5 / 10
Review based on PS3 version Final Words:
After 17 years, Tekken is still delivering its unique brand of 3D fighting with style and finesse. Even if you're not a long time Tekken fan or dedicated player, you should still be able to respect the effort producer Harada and Namco packed into this title. If you're somehow expecting more content than what is found in this game, you'll probably never be happy... because TTT2 is the most complete fighting game package released in a long time.
Namco brought back so many classic characters in this installment, leaving even the "nitpicky" Tekken fans with nothing fathomable to complain about. While some of the "less-popular" returning characters like Forest Law, P. Jack, Angel, and Alex have similar movesets to other fighters, they all present a respectable variety of unique moves. Calling them "clones" would be inaccurate... and they actually offer much more distinction from their related characters than the likes of Street Fighter's Ryu and Ken, for example. In a clever way, Namco also gave the classic characters some "old school moves" (with updated animations) from earlier versions of the movesets... yet another fan service that veteran players will immediately appreciate.
While some fighting games of this era controversially incorporate "simplified" mechanics to appeal to beginners, TTT2 keeps the formula that has proven successful in the past - "rewarding players who put the time and practice in". Tekken is, and always has been, a hardcore player's realm first and foremost. While some video game reviewers (with limited fighting game knowledge and abilities) may view this as a bad thing, it's anything but in the long term. An immaculate presentation and perfect graphics won't make a fighting game last for years... the gameplay will. And that's exactly what TTT2 delivers, with style. TTT2's gameplay system was built to last. Learn the ropes... and quit button mashing... or get knocked the F%@& out. End of story.
Casual players may never come to understand why Tekken's "extreme" juggle system is so widely accepted by hardcore players. Why have juggles become so ridiculously long? I'll tell you why. Namco has kept a formula in place since the early days, allowing returning players to perform combos they remember. For instance, if a player wants to try a combo they remember from Tekken 3 or perhaps Tekken 5, chances are, they can perform that exact same combo in TTT2. Players can use that knowledge as a solid starting point and adjust accordingly as they learn better options. Instead of removing combo possibilities from the game and forcing you to relearn everything, Namco has extended the hits allowed in a combo. This also makes room for some of the most stylishly badass tag combos ever seen in a fighting game.
While you'll need a lot more than juggles to win in high level competition, TTT2's new tag-based combo system is brilliantly designed, offering literally endless room for creativity. I can't think of another fighting game combo system that gives you so many tools and options, and features a considerably balanced, huge character roster. In my experience, the only other game that achieves this feeling is MVC2 (minus the balance). Performing incredibly fancy, insanely hard-hitting tag combos just makes me laugh in a good way... I love the updated combo system and I feel right at home.
Although TTT2 is awesome, I must nitpick on some things. When TTT2 was first announced, I already knew we'd have to say goodbye to the 8-second "Tekken 5/6 style" instant replays. Namco probably took them out due to the unavoidable character "clipping" (characters going through one another during tag combos). With drastically shortened instant replays (strangely, even shorter than in TTT2: Prologue), no longer can we observe a different angle of the finesse that characters put into their moves (which does provide an immensely better appreciation of the animation quality). Yup, I just wish the replays were a little longer. Lastly, there's a weird blurring effect that occurs during team win poses... I really wish they could've cleaned that up, along with the aliasing.
In fighting game terms, it just doesn't get much better in terms of content and gameplay quality. If you're looking for a completely reinvented game of Tekken, you're not going to find that here. "What isn't broken, doesn't need to be fixed." There's a reason why they don't change the rules of baseball... and there's a reason why learning how to play the piano is difficult. If you put the time and proper practice in, like in any quality fighting game, you will be rewarded. Thanks to Namco's consistency, there's no doubt the competitive scene will be supported for many years to come. ~TFG Webmaster
ONLINE / WORLD TEKKEN FEDERATION
Since I was frequent to the online lobbies of Tekken 5: DR and Tekken 6 for years, I certainly had my hopes up for TTT2's Online Mode. TTT2's netcode is based on Soul Calibur 5's (which was rather good), but is actually a massive improvement. Simply put, matches over PSN are incredibly solid, and one of the all time best experiences I've had playing a fighting game online. Gameplay feels responsive and smooth 95% of the time, and since TTT2 is a faster game than SC5, you can really notice it. Disconnections and network errors also happen much less frequently than in past Namco fighting games. TTT2's netcode is just stellar, even when playing against friends far across the country!
TTT2's Online Mode packs some great features like Tekken Channel, where you'll find tons of Replay Save options. There's also a nifty Online Practice Mode while you wait for a random opponent, and even Online Practice Mode with 2 players! Replays (and Practice Mode) now feature handy on-screen indicators that inform you when a Punish or Counter occurs... yet another fine detail that assists players looking to analyze and improve their game. Disconnection rates will also show up for online opponents, so players can easily avoid facing those dishonorable rage quitters (thanks Namco)! In addition, you have the staple online Leaderboards, Ranked & Player Matches. And I have to say, Namco did a great job with the rank matching system. When your characters are low rank, you actually fight low ranks... and when your characters are high ranks, just watch out!
One of the best part about Online Mode... Namco also integrated an innovative (and free) online statistics tracking service into TTT2 called World Tekken Federation (WTF). This social community platform tracks incredibly in-depth personal statistics, and can be easily accessed from any PC or mobile device. It displays your win/loss ratio, detailed history of your last 20 fights, the ranks of all of the characters you use online, character usage stats, and more! It's even updated in real-time (usually), which is pretty darn cool.
In addition, you can create or join a team, and earn points as you play Ranked Match to rank up your team. As your team progresses through the ranks, new icons for your team's "emblem" become available (which also shows up in the game). Each team profile page on WTF includes a forum, and compares stats with team members. In closing, World Tekken Federation offers unparalleled detail in the competitive fighting game genre, setting a new standard for the all-important online experience... the icing on the cake to a truly great game. Sadly, the WTF service closed down in Q3 2013 due to the high cost. It was fun while it lasted. ~TFG Webmaster