Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
Release Date: Q4 2009
Bandai Namco put on a show a couple of weeks ago in San Francisco to show off a number of their upcoming games. One of them was Tekken 6, which is coming to the PS3, Xbox 360 and PSP … with big, impressive features … that they aren't willing to talk about until E3.
Great. Thanks for the tease.
Tekken 5 is going to be a hard act to follow. It shipped with a couple of different mini-games, an intricate system of character customization that unfortunately boiled down to grinding for cash, and — most impressively — the first three Tekken games, included as arcade emulations. We don't talk about Tekken 4.
Tekken 6 has been out in arcades for a while, and when it hits home consoles, will mark the series' debut on the current console generation. By now, you've probably had more than enough opportunities to play the past games and make up your mind on them; you tend to either enjoy the risk-reward ratio and flashy gameplay of Namco-style fighters, or you hate it like rats. If you fall into the latter category, you're probably also somewhat fanatical about Virtua Fighter, which makes me wonder why you, hypothetical person, are reading this preview at all.
The King of Iron Fist Tournament 6 takes place six months after the conclusion of Tekken 5. The previous tournament was won by Jin Kazama, who's now in control of the world-spanning Mishima Zaibatsu. Since he's also in the habit of occasionally being taken over by dark powers, sprouting wings and horns, and trying to blow up people, this is probably a bad thing. Several characters have plots specifically oriented toward keeping Jin from facing his father, Kazuya Mishima, in the tournament; if that happens, apparently something bad comes soon afterward.
Anyway: new tournament. Most of the cast from Tekken 5 is returning in one way or another, although many of them are changed. Tekken 6 has a total of 42 characters, and all of them are supposedly going to be available the moment you boot up the game. There'll be no need to unlock any of them, which is odd for a Tekken title. The new cast includes Zafina, a Middle Eastern assassin with a deeply weird style; Bob, an obese American who's in the tournament to prove he can handle it; Miguel, a Spanish brawler; and Leo, the guy who looks an awful lot like Rock Howard.
I got the chance to play as Zafina and Bob. Bob's a lot faster than he looks, which isn't difficult; he's actually very mobile and uses his gut kind of like a weapon. He does a lot of fairly standard moves that look odd on him because he weighs half a ton. Zafina, conversely, fulfills this game's "incredibly creepy chick" quotient and uses her own unique style. Naturally, I had no idea what I was doing with her, but she readily switches between odd stances, and it's difficult to tell what direction her next attack is going to come from. Of course, that could just be because I don't know the character yet.
There are a number of other mechanical changes that should alter Tekken 6 considerably. The battlegrounds now take damage as you fight, allowing you to punch your opponent through a wall or shatter the floor underfoot. As a character's health bar starts to dwindle down to nothing, it'll flash red, augmenting his or her attack power; in a game like Tekken, where being low enough for Rage to activate means you're probably in the middle of the combo that'll knock you out, it remains to be seen how much of an effect it's going to have.
The biggest feature, which Namco Bandai was being cagey about, is the return of the Tekken 5 character customization system. There'll probably be more details at E3, but you can now switch between items from your character's default costumes; add items like glasses, hats, or knick-knacks; or actually equip them with weapons, which will unlock new "item moves." Some characters will even be able to use firearms as part of this system.
At the end of the day, though, Tekken 6 is Tekken, the same game that's been running almost nonstop in dorm rooms since 1996 or so. Tekken 5, barring a couple of odd character balance issues (i.e., Anna Williams on the moonlight stage), was as close to perfect as the series has ever gotten, and Tekken 6 doesn't feel dramatically different at this point. It ought to be worth checking out.
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