Six years after Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Tekken 7 has finally arrived on Xbox One and Steam. Bandai Namco's latest 3D fighting game touts new characters, customization options, online features, and a robust story mode. Thankfully, it was it worth the wait.
The Tekken series has always featured extensive story modes, and Tekken 7 is no different. This time, the story is told alternately through the memories of a nameless reporter, as well as the perspective of Heihachi Mishima, the elderly head of the Mishima family.
After some time away from his company, the Mishima Zaibatsu (business conglomerate), Heihachi returns and retakes control by force. The remaining plot revolves around Heihachi's mission to destroy his son Kazuya, who is part demon.
Heihachi also runs afoul of Akuma (a guest character from Street Fighter), who has vowed to kill him for mysterious reasons. Meanwhile, the G Corporation wages its own war against the Mishima Zaibatsu. With all these forces at play, the fate of the world is at stake once more.
The Story mode can be interesting at times (we finally learn what happened to Heichachi's wife and why he threw young Kazuya off a cliff). But since half the cinematics are told by the reporter, whose voice is monotone and awful, it often becomes unbearable. I eventually started skipping all of his cinematics, which I never do in games.
Also, characters speak different languages to each other (Heihachi speaks only Japanese, Claudio only Italian, and Nina only English). It's a ridiculous presentation issue, especially when the competition like Capcom and Koei Tecmo bother to record English and Japanese voices for everyone in their fighting games.
Thankfully, Story mode also includes 29 character-specific episodes separate from the main story. Each of these starts with a text-based introduction that explains the fighter's role in the narrative, then moves on to a single battle. Win the fight and you'll enjoy a brief cinematic ending for that person. Many of these are genuinely funny, especially for the joke characters such as Kuma and Yoshimitsu.
Customization and modes
Although completing Story mode unlocks some customization items for your profile (which other players see during online games) and a few Special Battles for Treasure Battle mode, you don't earn currency there. Currency (called "G") can only be earned in the other modes, which limits Story mode's replayability.
Currency can be spent on gallery and customization items. Tekken 7's gallery includes hundreds of cinematics and pieces of artwork from every previous Tekken game. It's a shame you have to earn money to unlock the cinematics, because they're a great way to get caught up with the series storyline. They also show how far graphics have come since the PS1 days!
As for customization items, Tekken 7 lets you dress up characters à la Injustice 2. But here, nearly all of the customizations are purely cosmetic. A few accessories actually function as weapons and slightly affect the gameplay. The level of customization is quite deep, but you'll have to spend credits or some time with Treasure Battle mode to unlock items before you can equip them.
Treasure Battle is a single-player survival mode in which players face an endless series of opponents until losing a match. You get one or more customization items for every victory. Special Battles against boss characters and Double Damage Battles help keep things interesting. Treasure Battle doesn't have the same longevity as Injustice 2's Multiverse mode, but it's still a great way to earn currency, items, and rank.
Less memorable is the single-player Arcade Battle, the traditional series of fights against increasingly tough AI opponents. You'll earn currency and rank here, but with no character-specific endings or customization items to earn, Arcade doesn't hold a candle to Treasure Battle.
Characters and fighting
Tekken 7 features 36 characters by default. One additional character, Eliza the vampire, was offered as a preorder bonus but can't be purchased separately at the moment. Of those 36 characters, 10 are new to the series:
- Akuma — The bloodthirsty renegade and a guest from Capcom's Street Fighter series.
- Claudio — An Italian exorcist and magic user.
- Gigas — A hulking beast created by the G Corporation.
- Jack-7 — The latest of G Corporation's android fighters.
- Josie — A Filipina kickboxer.
- Kazumi Mishima — Heihachi's deceased wife (alive here). She also has an unplayable demonic form that serves as a boss in single-player modes.
- Lucky Chloe — A woman who dresses as a cat and acts as a mascot.
- Katarina — This Brazilian Savate fighter was designed to be beginner-friendly.
- Master Raven — A female ninja who wears sci-fi armor.
- Shaheen — A Saudi Arabian soldier who was also designed to be beginner-friendly.
The Tekken series has always included a mixture of serious and less serious characters (such as Lucky Chloe). As usual, the diverse and colorful lineup is one of the game's best strengths. The backgrounds are often quite beautiful as well, even if they lack the flashy interactive features of Dead or Alive 5 and Injustice 2.
On the other hand, tutorials are Tekken 7's biggest weakness. In fact, it has no tutorial, so new players will have to learn the mechanics during gameplay or by consulting guides. Of course, there is a robust Practice mode and you can pause to check your character's move list at any time. But with competing games like Street Fighter V and Injustice 2 actually bothering to teach players their mechanics, Tekken needs to step up and do the same.
Still, the basics of combat are simple enough to grasp. The four face buttons each represent one hand or foot. These punches and kicks can be strung together into combos. Special moves tend to consist of pressing or holding a direction and hitting one or more attack buttons. They aren't special moves in the Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat sense, although Akuma retains his rolling inputs from Street Fighter.
If you've played Dead or Alive or Virtua Fighter but somehow never played Tekken (I had only dabbled once or twice before now), the gameplay here is very similar to those games. It's fast and extremely fluid, in stark contrast to the stiff movement and dial-a-combo gameplay of Mortal Kombat and Injustice 2.
In addition to two-player offline battles, Tekken 7 offers three types of online matches: Ranked, Player, and Tournament.
Ranked and Player Battles are standard one-on-one fights for which you earn currency and online rank (only in Ranked Battles). Although you can't start a single-player game and wait for challengers, you get to practice moves against a dummy while waiting for the game to find a match.
Tournaments are eight-player competitions in which players face off in pairs. The winner of each fight progresses to the next bracket and the loser is eliminated. Battles occur simultaneously by default, so you're not stuck watching other fights until you get knocked out. Text chat is available as well. I like the tournament feature, but I wish you could select double-elimination rules instead of just single-elimination.
Tekken 7's online mode initially featured some connectivity issues in which matches would be hit periods of lag. As of this writing, a patch just dropped that will hopefully fix those issues. Most of the matches I played were smooth, regardless.
The Xbox One version of Tekken 7 includes 42 Achievements worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. These include Achievements for completing the main Story mode and 10 Character Episodes, defeating Akuma in Arcade Battle (which requires some specific steps like getting a Perfect win), and several Treasure Battle-specific Achievements.
In online multiplayer, you need to win one of each game type and win 10 total matches – all pretty easy. None of the Achievements are particularly hard.
See our detailed Achievement Guide for more info, screenshots, and strategies!
Overall impressions of Tekken 7
It's unfortunate that Tekken 7 launched so close to Injustice 2, a game which has the built-in appeal of DC characters and a more robust single-player component. Still, both games play wildly differently, and some fighting-game fans will prefer Tekken's refined gameplay. Everything that's there is really good, other than the voice acting in Story mode and too-long load times.
Tekken is a long-running and proud series. As the first entry for the current console generation, Tekken 7 is also a great entry point (lack of tutorials aside). Loads of colorful characters, tight gameplay, and lots of fun customization and unlockables will keep fighting-game fans entertained for months.
The Xbox One version of Tekken 7 costs $59.99 and is also available bundled with the Season Pass for $84.99. The Steam version sells for $49.99.
- More than 36 colorful and unique characters.
- Ultra-smooth gameplay.
- Treasure Battle is an unusually fun survival mode.
- Terrible voice acting makes Story mode cinematics highly skippable.
- Loadi times are longer than they should be.
- The lack of a tutorial can make the gameplay intimidating for newcomers.
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.
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