E3 2012: Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Hands-On Preview - The King of Iron Fist Returns
Written Monday, June 18, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
A PlayStation 2 launch title and arcade favourite, Tekken Tag Tournament proved a popular spin-off from the mainline Tekken series back in the day. But that was twelve years ago. With the core franchise in its sixth iteration and enjoying half of the limelight in Street Fighter X Tekken earlier this year, Tekken Tag is making a comeback, with the largest roster of Tekken characters yet and a whole host of new modes and features. It's quite possibly the biggest Tekken game yet, and Namco is pulling out all of the stops for the console version to make it an event that fight fans won't want to miss. It has Snoop Dogg in it too. More on that later.
First, we get reacquainted with Tekken's four-button combo system, with each limb assigned to a face button as it's always been, and before we know it, we're back into the inimitable rhythm that's been Tekken's calling card for the last (almost) 18 years. Teaming up our old favourites Kazuya Mishima and Yoshimitsu, we're pulling off ten-hit combos like we're back playing Tekken 3 during the good old days, albeit on a newly unveiled background endorsed by veteran hip-hop artist, Calvin Broadus, better known as Snoop Dogg.
Bringing a track called 'Knocc em Down' to the game as well as his signature backdrop, featuring gigantic gold speakers and the man himself sat on a gaudy throne, you have to question the thinking behind this particular tie-in. Is anyone going to buy Tekken Tag Tournament 2 because it has Snoop Dogg in it? Almost certainly not, but if it means having a few added extras in the game, we're not going to complain, even it does seem slightly odd. Anyway. Enough Snoop blather. Let's talk about Tekken Tag 2's new Fight Lab mode.
Ostensibly a story-driven tutorial, Tekken Tag Tournament 2's Fight Lab is deeper than a standard fighting game tutorial, introducing you to the basics and more advanced techniques that some seasoned Tekken veterans might not even be aware of. Working for Violet, you find yourself helping the purple-haired dandy build the perfect fighting machine after his first prototype explodes. Every move you choose and perform successfully earns you points that can be exchanged for more moves that you learn and assign to your bespoke Combot, which serves as your tutorial character.
Fight Lab sees you practicing moves and combos against a variety of increasingly oddball characters, from a rotund yellow Power Ranger lookalike that hurls pizzas and sushi at you to a tutu-wearing bear. It's like fighting inside the weirdest circus ever or the fevered dreams of a psychotic clown. Tragically, none of these characters are playable.
Nonetheless, you'll learn a whole host of useful techniques in Fight Lab, from juggles to bounds (returning from Tekken 6), launchers and combos. It's the perfect mode for sharpening your Tekken skills if you're a bit rusty or you want to tackle the meat and veg of the game's mechanics as a newcomer. The idea is to introduce Tekken to a whole new audience of players. By the end of Fight Lab mode, you'll have a fully-realised Combot comprised of a collection of moves unlocked and learnt from Tekken Tag 2's roster of 55 characters, and no two Combots should be the same.
If none of those 55 existing Tekken favourites do it for you, then you can select your custom Combot, or there's a bunch of pre-order add-on fighters that'll be released sometime after the game launches. In Namco's E3 build, DLC fighters Angel and Kunimitsu are available to check out, so we take the latter for a spin for the first time since Tekken 2. She's less of a Yoshimitsu clone than she used to be, but she's still a fast and nimble character, and complements our tag partner, Devil Jin, who steams in with the big punches and devastating kicks.
Tag 2 also expands upon the first Tekken Tag's tagging mechanics, enabling the off-screen character to swap in for tag throws or tag combos called 'tag assaults', while the same tagging strategy to give your flagging characters a rest is present and correct. If one character is KO'd, the fight is over, unlike SFxTK, or MvC3 where both (or all three in MvC3's case) characters need to be taken out to chalk up a win. If all this tag business isn't your bag though, you can play TTT2 as a solo character like traditional Tekken, so you could say it's sort of two Tekken games in one. Sort of.
Tekken fans since day one, naturally we're excited by the prospect of more King of Iron Fist action in TTT2. That Tekken Tag Tournament 2 has the largest roster – with pretty much every single character from the game's 18 year history - and the most accomplished visuals in the series yet, only adds to the game's already massive appeal. And with that unique winning formula intact in the deceptively simple yet staggeringly complex gameplay, alongside the depth that Fight Lab brings with all the other modes you know and love, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 should be the most essential console iteration of Tekken yet.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will be bringing the fight to consoles on September 10th, 2012.