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Can Tekken 6 outclass all other fighters?

Namco BandaiDay 2009. At this prestigious event in San Francisco where the beer flowed like wine, the ‘Radar crew got to see games Namco has cooking for the summer/fall seasons. One of the heavily featured games, Tekken 6, isthe first multiplatform Tekken game and the first for this generation of systems (Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection for PSN doesn’t count). Set for release this fall on 360, PS3 and PSP, we got our hands on the fighter to see if it stacked up against the recent surge of impressive fighting games.

With a roster of over 40 characters (including six new brawlers), Tekken 6 is almost certainly fan service as it includes probably all of your favorite characters to date. Checkhereandherefor our character spotlights. Unfortunately, only four characters were available for us to test spin – Jin, Kazuya, Zafina and Bob (the latter two are new to the series). You already know of the returning fighters, so let’s tell you about the new guys.

The controls felt instantly familiar. Limbs correspond to the face buttons and a combination of certain buttons result in powerful grapple attacks. Graphical flourishes whenever you strike (red flares, sparks) make a return as well. So what of the new fighters? Even for a fat guy, Bob is quick and powerful. His punches rocked fellow editor, Henry Gilbert, all over the arena. He reminded us a little of Street Fighter alum Balrog, but way heavier.

On the other hand, Zafina is the most interesting of the newbies. She has three stances (low, medium and high) and attacks like a snake (apparently that’s her thing). What we mean is that she’ll strike and return to the pose as if she’s pouncing and then sizing up her next attack. She’s methodical, dangerous and quick. Her character infuses a fair bit of strategy that is all too-welcome.

And that’s kind of it. The new stages are interactive, but just barely. They’re still the wide 3D arenas that play on a 2D plane. In fact, one of the funniest new stages enabled you to knock sheep all over the place, yet had a weird background blending issue. As the characters circled each other on the 2D plane, the 3D environment kept shifting strangely, as if the place where the two planes met was like a liquid. It was just distracting enough to take us out of the experience of playing a new game on a $600 system.

Other than that, we didn’t get much new info out of the devs other than a new rage meter, enabling you to have more powerful attacks once your health dips below ten percent. Also, the customization mode is said to contain more options - specifically for clothing, hair and weapons.

Soulcalibur IV and Street Fighter IV will have been out for a while by the time Tekken makes its grand re-entrance. Are the few changes enough to persuade consumers? Can the game stand tall once again? We’ll find out together this fall.

Apr 29, 2009