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Tekken 6 has been something of a slow burner. Already available to play in the arcades (if you can find one), there had to be something extra in the home console version to warrant the seemingly endless wait. And, sure enough, there is just that - the new campaign mode.
Firstly, we should make it clear that this isn't going to replace the regular action of the arcade mode.
'Proper' Tekken is still the star of the show with the usual sumptuous arenas and colourful characters, only this time with 60fps motion blur and newly-added destructible scenery. But when you need a break from the combo learning, campaign mode should be your first port of call.
The new mode sees you starting off in one location on a world map. You then enter a third-person action stage, similar in feel to the fighting sections of Yakuza, or if you want to get really retro, Streets of Rage or Final Fight.
With the new freedom of this game world, the standard control set won't cut the mustard. But rather than dumb down the fighting system, Namco-Bandai has chosen to add a free-run feature, similar to Soul Calibur. This lets you move around the area with the left analogue stick, while retaining all the moves and functionality of the arcade version's fighting via the d-pad.
If you're using the rather ace new Hori arcade stick, you can get around the problem of single stick control by holding L1 and using the stick to run around. Release L1 and you return to standard fighting.
You won't be alone in your quest, as you're often joined by NPCs who fight alongside you. You can level up these characters and customise them to the same extent you would in the regular game.
As you progress, you'll unlock more areas to fight in, until the world is criss-crossed with lines and character match-ups, with boss fights thrown into the mix every few spaces. The backgrounds vary from scene to scene and we saw both woodland and city areas, each with several enemies on screen at a time, which is impressive considering the character detail.
Of course, there has to be a trade-off somewhere and here it's in the quality of the backgrounds, which are rather bland and sparse in comparison to the normal fight arenas. The awkwardness of the characters in these basic 3D spaces is not very current-gen and it did remind us a bit of old third-person games on PS2.
Another new addition to the main game is 'Rage' mode. Here, as you get smacked around and your health bar depletes, your character will start to get angry. When Rage kicks in, your attacks will be more powerful, giving you a chance to get back into the fight in the way that Street Fighter IV's ultras can turn the tide of a match.
Of course, expert players will will be able to wear down their opponent almost to the point of Rage and then finish them with a combo before they get the power boost. When you're good enough to do that, you deserve the win.
Finally, there's the new ability to unlock special customisation items that directly affect the gameplay. For instance, a gun can not only be worn, but also fired. This extends to penguin summons (!) and missile attacks. Don't worry, though - these don't do as much damage as regular attacks. They're more for show and primarily there for you to taunt your opponent in style.
With 40 fighters, online tourneys for up to eight players, added penguins and twice the dress-up fun of the last game, this is undoubtedly the deluxe version of Tekken 6. Here's hoping the new additions prove to be masterstrokes and not just gimmicks.
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