Tekken 8 Review

Richard Walker

Seriously, what's going on with the Mishima family? I know there are families out there that have trouble getting along, but few (as far as I know) have resorted to throwing one another off a cliff or into the heart of an active volcano. Family feuds hit differently in Tekken, then, and for Tekken 8, the father-son bickering has moved down the bloodline from Heihachi and Kazuya to Kazuya and his son Jin Kazama. But none of the drama has diminished – the Mishima-Kazama battle rages on, and nothing less than the fate of the entire world hangs in the balance. It's good to see that Tekken's story is still utterly unhinged after thirty years. And that these games  still have the capacity to deliver dynamic, exciting, and intricate fighting mechanics, entirely on its own terms.


One thing about Tekken that has remained unchanged for three decades, apart from its knowingly nutty narrative, is the core fighting system, wherein each face button is attached to your fighter's limbs. It makes stringing basic combos together feel slick and intuitive, as it always has, but Tekken 8 adds a few new tricks of its own, including the Heat System – something that fundamentally alters the ebb and flow of a fight, especially against online opponents. It's another tool in your arsenal, one to bust out at the touch of a button when you need to turn the tide. Crucially, it works well, and complements the Rage Arts finishers introduced in Tekken 7. The whole thing hangs together beautifully, with the nuts and bolts easy to learn, and the more intricate bits slightly tougher to master.

The addition of recoverable health lends another layer of strategy to proceedings, any damage taken, chip damage or otherwise, appearing as a white window in your health bar. Go on a counteroffensive and you can win some of that lost health back, so it can pay to play aggressively, especially when you're able to flip the odds back in your favour. It might seem like there's an awful lot to take in, when it comes to Tekken 8's various systems and mechanics, but Practice Mode and the Replay & Tips feature (more on that in a bit) have you well covered in that regard. The traditional Arcade experience and Character Episodes provide short, punchy solo battles ideal for cutting your teeth, too, before you feel confident enough to venture into the viper's nest that is online competition.


Arcade Quest mode proves to be a good place to start, easing you in gently with a few ghost battles and a handful of simple tutorials to help you get to grips with the essentials. The new 'Special Style' control scheme (available to toggle on and off with a press of L1) also offers a way for beginners to get involved and acquainted with the various intricacies of Tekken, enabling the unleashing of moves with little more than a few simple button presses. Saved replays can also be viewed with context-sensitive tips (in the aforementioned Replay & Tips), so you can see where you've gone wrong during a bout and attempt to improve in the areas where your skills might be lacking. Bandai Namco has seemingly thought of everything, even suggesting possible combos or windows during which you can turn the tables and punish an opponent.

Outside of Arcade Quest, there's a lot more story to be had, 'The Dark Awakens' seeing Kazuya and Jin butting heads, as the former initiates a new King of Iron Fist Tournament, while the latter grapples with his ailing devil powers. The whole thing is completely ludicrous of course, much as you'd expect, and in keeping with fighting game tradition, there's a horribly egregious and cheap boss battle to contend with. This might actually be the worst boss battle we've had the displeasure of facing in a fighting game, which is saying something – there's a deep well of shit bosses in fighting games to draw from. If you thought Tekken 7's final boss encounter was interminable, you ain't seen nothing yet. This one is truly wretched.


Still, godawful bosses come with the territory, and you can always dial down the difficulty level if you'd like to preserve your sanity. Boss fights aside, Story Mode is good fun, even managing to squeeze in a neat homage to the old Tekken Force beat 'em up mode at one juncture. Tekken 8's story also conjures its own line in eye-popping spectacle, too, the game's Unreal Engine 5 visuals making for easily one of the best looking fighting games around – it's outstanding. That it also happens to play like a dream is the icing on the cake. Chuck in a fantastic online offering, complete with cross-play support, stable rollback netcode (with options enabling you to prioritise fluidity or response), leaderboards, and the expansive Tekken Fight Lounge arcade lobby, and you have something rather special.

On top of that, there's the immediate joys of Tekken Ball, the bonus mode first featured in Tekken 3, in which you punch and kick a giant beach ball back and forth until one of you misses and gets smashed in the face. This alone provides hours of competitive fun from your sofa, which, let's be honest, is the best way to play Tekken. Then again, any way to play Tekken is the best way. In a period of resurgence for the fighting genre, Tekken 8 stands out with its ridiculous story, stunning visuals, generous suite of character customisation options, and glut of modes. As fighting packages go, this is just about as good as it gets. Tekken 8 rules, with an Iron Fist.

Tekken 8

More than the sum of its parts and some really quite magnificent visuals, Tekken 8 is a truly terrific fighting game, which, in the midst of a resurgence for the genre, is quite something. After thirty years, Tekken 8 proves there's a lot of life left in the series yet.

Form widget
90%
Audio
80%

Aggressive techno to complement the aggressive fighting styles and pyrotechnics on show. It fits the bone-crunching action to a tee. There's also a jukebox of tracks from throughout the entire series, which is a nice touch.

Visuals
95%

Tekken 8 raises the bar when it comes to eye-saucering graphical fidelity in a fighting game, blowing Mortal Kombat 1 and Street Fighter 6 out of the water. Here, Unreal Engine 5 really flexes its muscles. Just stunning.

Playability
90%

Simply superb. 'Special Style' controls mean newbies can get involved, while Tekken veterans can get to grips with new systems and hone their skills with the 'Replay & Tips' feature. Tekken 8 plays like a dream.

Delivery
90%

Story Mode, Character Episodes, Arcade Quest, Tekken Ball, a generous online offering, and all of the standard stuff you expect from a fighting game. Tekken 8 is bulging with content and features – there's nothing missing.

Trophies
80%

A really nice, solid list that rewards actions and milestones at a good pace. Short-term, you'll unlock a whole load of trophies, but you'll need to dig in long-term to complete the list. This is good stuff.

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