Tekken 7 Preview - E3 2016
We step into the ring of the upcoming fighting game
The King of Iron Fist tournament returns with Tekken 7, after only one “story” installment on last-gen’s consoles. Sure, there were your Tekken Tag Tournament 2's and your Street Fighter X Tekken's, but we’re finally back to finish off the storied, 20-year long Mishima feud. Namco’s biggest beat’em up series promises a number of things, and I got to dust off my controller in a few rounds with the game.
Firstly, Tekken 7 is looking real nice. With Unreal Engine 4, you can see every bead of sweat dripping off your fighter’s chiseled abs, the exquisite lighting in the various battle arenas, and get the benefit of the myriad clothing options you can deck each fighter out in. Both at Microsoft’s conference and the presentation that I saw, we had a peek at the battle between Mishima Zaibatsu patriarch Heihachi and Street Fighter’s nomadic demon Akuma. The latter has returned to face off with the former because, for rather peculiar reasons, there was some kind of relationship going on between Akuma and Heihachi’s wife Kazumi. Rather than take a few minutes to discuss the peculiarities of the relationship, the two choose to duke it out and demolish half a temple.
What the demo was showing off was the fact that Akuma’s hadoukens and various moves, including the famous Shin Shun Goku Satsu (Wrath of the Raging Demon), is present in the game now. There’s also the “super move” analogue “Rage Arts” that characters in Tekken now have, which activates when they’re on the last dregs of health thanks to “Rage Drives”. Not to mention “Rage Crushes”, which absorb finite damage to pull of certain moves.
New characters to the Tekken 7 roster include the Italian Stallion Claudio Serafino, who moves a bit like a combination of Hwoarang and Lars. He can conjure energy during a fight and use an arrow of energy for his Rage Art. Gigas is a big bruiser, similar to someone like the Jack models but with a moveset more reminiscent of Marduk.
Josie Rizal, the first Filipino character came in response to the huge Tekken fanbase over there. Move-wise, her style is right up my street. She’s a mixture of Christie and Bryan so expect strong leg attacks while having the flexibility and juggling potential. Kazumi/Devil Kazumi—the wife of Heihachi—still carries the “Mishima style” of fighting, with moves like “Demon Slayer”. However, in some of her moves, she can conjure a damn tiger to beef up her attacks. Because she’s of the Mishima line, she has powerful, short combos and staggering moves.
Shaheen plays like Lee or Violet, and is a burly bruiser from Saudi Arabia. He probably has one of the more accessible movesets of the new characters, with straight strikes, simple combos and a few juggling/lifting moves. Finally, Lucky Chloe, a character that caused quite a stir. Visually, she has a Neko-vibe, with a flexible, feline moveset to boot. A great juggler, but one of the more difficult characters to master because a number of her combos rely on precise timing. The payoff, however, is well worth it.
So, the fighting. That’s what it all boils down to. First off, a lot of was said about the “accessibility” of Tekken 7. And I understand that fighting games—especially when you start getting competitive—can seem a bit daunting. Street Fighter has been dominating for a while, and has hopefully brought the barrier to entry down for fans wanting to get into these games. However, there’s a different meta/ethos Street Fighter, Tekken, and Dead or Alive (from the main beat ‘em ups that I’m well-versed in) have. Street Fighter is definitely the simplest—which I hasten to add does certainly not make it easy. Tekken used to have more emphasis on the juggles, while Dead or Alive was big on the counter/feint kind of gameplay.
I saw many novice people at E3 and they appeared to be having a lot of fun. They knew very little about Tekken so just picked whichever character took their fancy and went with it. When they pulled off a cool move, they were genuinely excited, and the Rage Art left them wowed. The latter are ridiculously easy to pull off, but more on that in a moment.
The juggles have been nerfed a little in Tekken 7. Tekken Tag 2 was (ridiculously) fun but insane on that front. It was probably about time for it. When getting into a game, my mindset (despite being extremely rusty) fell into combos that just won’t work anymore. It means that I have to rethink my strategy.
During playtime with the game, I had the chance to go up against a very skilled player. Basically, while the other consoles had two people coming and going, there was just this one guy sat there going through people. I consider(ed) myself a better than average player. Tekken was mine and my friends’ fighting game of choice. One of my pals played Tekken 5 so much at university that the health bars were permanently burned into their CRT TV.
With the nerf in juggling, you rely more on one/two hit combos. There were moments when my opponent and I would be taking pot shots, but both our guards were always up. I was relying more on feints and waiting for him to attack to get that opening. I think it’s good because, yes, it did get annoying being launched in the air and knowing that over 50% of your health was about to go bye-bye.
At the first sight of Rage Arts, I was a little skeptical. I thought “Why should I be punished for knocking the stuffing out of someone?” When these moves hit—and some hit hard—it takes off a chunk of health and can decide a match. Some get silly when combo’d into a juggle. But they can be blocked. When your opponent is low on health, you know it’s on its way, so can act a little more cautiously. And Rage Drive doesn’t do as much damage as last time, which is fair enough. I never had a great enthusiasm for it, anyway. Rage Crushes, however, were a definite boon. I can’t recall how many times Law’s "right-right-X" side kick saved my toned behind. The frustration on my opponents face was also a delight to behold. My only hope is that they’re not absolutely abused.
What can I say? Tekken’s finally back. Grabbing the pad and facing off against a difficult opponent still feels like the first time. That challenge was always the biggest pull for me playing the game both on and offline. Sure, if you want to kill some time in arcade and story mode, it has that—maybe we’ll see someone else from the Mishima bloodline tossed into a volcano? Whatever happens I’m looking forward to getting back into the battle. I’ll just need a little warmup first. Tekken 7 is coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC in 2017.