If you’re a fan of pummeling people until they can no longer walk with all manner of fists, feet and exotic weapons, chances are you’ve been rather content over the past few years. The likes of Street Fighter, Marvel Vs. Capcom and Soul Calibur have all seen new instalments, updates and updated updates so we’ve definitely had no shortage of the games; but Tekken is one major beat ‘em up series that’s taken the back seat (if we ignore the disappointing Tekken 3D Prime Edition anyway). Now, however, Tekken is bouncing back with a sequel to the PS2 classic Tekken Tag Tournament, the aptly titled Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Are two fighters better than one?
Going through the obvious stuff first, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (or TTT2 as it will be named from now on) features 2-on-2 bouts rather than 1-on-1 as seen in regular Tekken titles. Similarly to the likes of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken, you’re able to tag your characters in and out at any time. Unlike MvC3 and more like Street Fighter X Tekken however, it only takes a single character’s KO for you to be awarded the bout so strategic tagging in and out is key.
TTT2 makes interesting use of the Rage Meter seen in Tekken 6. Where the Rage Meter in Tekken 6 only activated when you were low on health to provide you with stronger attacks, it now activates when your character is down to roughly 50% of their full health but for your tag team partner. So if you end up taking a pummeling early on in the fight, you can quickly swap out to your other character and dish out some heavy, often match-winning punishment.
Being a duo-focused game, there are also some neat ways in which you can use both your active character and your reserve character simultaneously. If you fancy bringing in the back-up without just pressing a single button for a direct swap, you can always activate a team throw. By pressing both the tag button and a regular fight button together, you can pull off a move that involves both characters and leaves your replacement character in the arena, ready to dish out some punishment.
Another way you can deal out team attacks is through short combos. By again using a combination of tag and attack, you can temporarily call in your partner character for a series of short combos. The active character will glow white and as soon as their combo is done, the shift will return to the other character. If you’re quick enough, skilled players will be able to use this as a good way to dish out major damage in a short space of time. Besides the new Tag focuses, if you love Tekken, you’ll be happy to know there’s not much different in regards to the actual fights or controls.
One of Tekken Tag 2’s most interesting new features is the new Fight Lab mode. Created as a way to teach new players some of Tekken’s basics, you play as a Combot and duke it out against another Combot as commands flash up on the screen. It’s simple and rather linear but if you’re a complete newbie to the series, it’s better than just flying headfirst into a match against the computer or even worse online against a skilled player.
One of the most important things to some players when it comes to fighting games are the new characters. So far, Tekken Tag 2 features no completely new characters but does feature a number of long-absent returning characters and in one case, a familiar face in a new style. Included on-disc from release, characters featured in previous Tekken titles making a comeback include Jinpachi Mishima, Jun Kazama, Ogre (in True Ogre form from Tekken 3) and Julia Chang now in the guise of Jaycee, a wrestler akin to King. Other returning characters set to appear as pre-order DLC include Angel, Kunimitsu and Michelle Chang, the latter of those unfortunately not in the build we played. Update: Tiger Jackson, P. Jack, Alex and Forest Law have also now been confirmed as bonus characters.
Of the new and returning characters, Kunimitsu and Angel are definitely the most notable inclusions seeing as they’ve been absent since the original Tekken Tag Tournament. Both have been completely revamped however and both look different and play differently. Kunimitsu is a more agile version of series staple Yoshimitsu complete with flips, kicks and attacks with her dagger. She can even breath fire with one attack. Angel on the other hand is also agile but a little slower and can take time to get used to. She also retains trademarks attacks such as being able to fly briefly using her wings firing her laser.
There’s no denying that Tekken Tag 2 is much more of the same, but if Tekken is your fighting game of choice, you’ll definitely be pleased. It’s also worth noting that if tag battles aren’t your thing, you can still play one on one so fear not if you want to stick to classic Tekken action. As a final note, the game has also gone through a number of design changes including new location-based voice acting (e.g. Lili speaks French now) and a visual overhaul that includes remaking all animations from scratch. It’s a very pretty game, there’s no denying that.
If Tekken is your game of choice, you’ve probably got your pre-order in already and this preview has only served as a way to further excite you for the full release. If you weren’t yet sure, do give Tekken Tag 2 a shot. It’s a much heavier and more skill-based game than the offerings from Street Fighter or Marvel Vs. Capcom and even Namco’s other Soul Calibur series. Button bashing will only get you so far and mastering even a single character will take practice.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will hit stores on September 14th 2012 for PS3 and Xbox 360. A Wii U release is planned presumably when the Wii U is released.