Tekken 7

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Fighting
Developer: Namco Bandai Games
Release Date: June 2, 2017

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PC Review - 'Tekken 7'

by Brian Dumlao on June 12, 2017 @ 6:00 a.m. PDT

Tekken 7 returns to its gameplay roots with classic 1 vs 1 bouts and its canon storyline centered on the eternal struggle for power amongst the members of the Mishima clan.

Buy Tekken 7

If you're a PC gamer who's a fighting game fan, then you're experiencing a renaissance of sorts, with the platform getting lots of attention from developers. From smaller games like Skullgirls, Kings of Kung Fu, and Divekick to anime-themed material like the Guilty Gear and Blazblue series and mainstream stuff like Mortal Kombat X and Killer Instinct, the platform has had plenty to choose from if players can stand some of their games appearing later than the console brethren, Street Fighter V notwithstanding. However, there are still some franchises that haven't touched the platform, and some people are holding out hope that the developers and publishers will change their minds. After six main entries and three spin-offs, Tekken 7 has finally landed on the PC day and date with the console versions. It's also the platform with the best version of the game yet.

The seventh numbered entry in the fighting game series represents a culmination of the many gameplay ideas that have worked. There's a good mix of every type of environment. Some stages represent the infinite playfield of the first three games. The more restrictive places are also represented, along with stages that feature breakable floors and railings. Some stages even have different environmental effects and music based on the fight round. The only thing not here is the uneven fields of the fourth game, one of the few features that never migrated to later versions.

Just about all of the old fighting mechanics have returned in this entry. Throw escapes, wall damage, and a slight damage increase when in Rage mode are all here, but some of the other mechanics have been tweaked. Juggling is still present, but the damage reduces significantly as the juggle wears on. Sidestepping is also important to the fight, but its slower movement speed means you won't zip in and out of attack lines as often.

There are some new mechanics to the fighting system. The Screw Attack is the ground bounce from previous games, but it's been modified so the bounce is replaced with the opponent being slumped over and ready to initiate another hit instead of being susceptible to more juggle attacks. The Power Crush allows the player to throw an uninterruptible move at the expense of taking damage from the opponent while the move is occurring. The game also zooms in when two blows are about to connect, so you have a better view of which one hit first and where the connection happened.

The bigger, more apparent addition to the mechanics is the presence of Rage-related moves. Rage Drives are superpowered moves that take a good chunk of health out of an opponent and give you the opportunity to use them to start or end a combo. The Rage Art, on the other hand, is a flashier, more cinematic combo similar to the Super Arts in the later Street Fighter series or the X-Ray attack in Mortal Kombat X. In both cases, you have to be in Rage to execute them, and using either one immediately takes you out of Rage, making it more of a last-ditch effort as opposed to something to further strengthen your health lead over the opponent.

These new mechanics have been battle-tested by professionals due to the game's multiple appearances in fighting tournaments, including at least two EVO appearances. Without much protest, it looks as if the fighting game community already approves of those changes. The mechanics also add some more visual excitement for casual players and fight observers. It's exciting enough to see the wild Rage Arts play out, but the extreme close-up when two hits approach impact is a good way to convey some nail-biting excitement in fights. It doesn't last so long that it takes players out of the fight, so the added amount of flash is a nice touch.

Tekken 7's online performance is rock solid, as it has been for previous games in the series. During our tests, there were no dropped connections, and any stalls in the connection happened during the pre-fight introductions, with the fights themselves being as smooth as local play. Though it isn't available for cross-play against either the PS4 or Xbox One, it isn't that difficult to find an opponent on the PC, and the competition is roughly on par with the console platforms. You have a fair chance of winning, as few players can score perfect rounds straight out of the gate, but you have to put some effort into your victories. You can wait for a fight to pop up on a list, but those who want to warm up can spar while they're waiting. Ranked and Player matches are present, with the former giving you the chance to do a rematch only once, while the latter lets you have lobbies, as expected. Tournaments are new to this title, and you can organize single- or double-elimination ones for up to eight players. Prizes include costume pieces and fight money, which you can also get from regular online matches.

Speaking of which, fight money is the most important thing in the game, since you can spend it on lots of different things. For the gallery, that means buying official and fan-made illustrations that span the numbered games, spin-offs and even pachinko machines that were only in Japan. You can also buy the cinematics from those games and spin-offs. For your online profile, the money can be used to add some flair to your health bar and fight card backgrounds. Most people will spend the fight money on the costume pieces, which range from expected things like glasses to highly unusual ones, like color-changing hair. Some items are reactionary, like sirens that light up when you enter Rage mode, while others give you extra moves that aren't easy to pull off. For wrestling fans, there is some New Japan Pro Wrestling-related garb, including shirts for Bullet Club, Chaos, and even a whole outfit scheme for King that gives him a stylized version of Kazuchika Okada's Rainmaker finishing move as his Rage Art, complete with money raining from the sky.

Switch to the offline portion of the game, and you'll notice that it's pretty sparse compared to earlier entries. Versus and Arcade modes are back, but Arcade is much shorter than ever before. There are only five fights to participate in, and there are no specific character endings once you beat the final boss. Treasure Battle is essentially Survival mode but with the added treat of winning fight money and costume pieces for every battle won, and your energy meter is refilled. You also have Practice mode, which feels necessary since the familiar characters have gained a plethora of combos alongside the eight new characters and a special appearance from Street Fighter's Akuma, giving you a total of 36 fighters on the roster.

The other major single-player mode is Story mode, which attempts to re-tell and finish the Mishima storyline that is at the heart of the series. It's told via a combination of fully animated cut scenes, still pictures, and narration from a reporter trying to chronicle the family relationships that have plunged the world into a corporate war.

The good news is that the mode has some real focus. It won't stand up to the likes of the recent Mortal Kombat or Injustice titles, and it certainly won't reach the heights of a Guilty Gear Xrd, but the story is fine because it's focused on the Mishimas. There are some instances where you'll fight against or take control of other named characters, but you'll rarely stray from that main storyline.

The bad news is that while the mode is short, it can feel longer than expected thanks to the abundance of cut scenes. There are even full expository chapters, and while those interested in lore will eat it up, others will just want to participate in more fights. A number of bouts have you fighting soldiers and bad Jack robots, with a few Quick Time Events (QTEs) thrown in for good measure. The game tries to make up for this by adding the ability to play as different characters who are not involved in the main story, so you can see endings that would normally belong in the Arcade mode. Those arcs only last for one fight, though, so it's not much of a consolation prize for anyone who isn't completely invested in online fighting.

Tekken 7 marks the series' move toward the more widely used Unreal Engine 4. It doesn't change the character appearances much, as they get better-looking skin and a few more visible details. The clothing acts more realistic, with pieces fluttering in the wind or due to sharp movements. The environment is where the benefits really come in, as they sport more detail; even bystanders appear more fleshed-out than before. Lighting has also received an improvement, and some weather effects like rainstorms occur on one stage. As is the case for many games in this console generation, particles have gone wild. Each hit and block produces more visual flair and sparks than before. It isn't enough to be annoying, but it certainly provides an impressive level of flash.

The PC version has some graphical advantages over the consoles. By default, the game is in a much sharper state, so the little details that go missing on other platforms, like the grating on the floor, are displayed in full force here. You have loads of graphical options to tweak, including resolution for up to 4K and a dynamic resolution slider to help the game remain at 60fps, even if the hardware may not be up to the task at certain resolutions. The game also loads much faster into a fight than either of the consoles, unless you've installed them to a SSD. Otherwise, prepare for some decent wait times between the pre-fight intros and the actual fight.

The sound in the series has always been a high point, and this entry is no different. There's a heavy electronic influence on the soundtrack, with the story cinematics providing the only relief from drawn-out distorted bass lines. Effects hit just as hard as ever, and the voices are on point. Interestingly, the game tries to get as many of the fighters as possible to convey their nationality via their speech, with varying results. Josie Rizal's Filipino accent may be so slight it's imperceptible, but Shaheen's Arabic and Hworang's Korean are clear enough to add variety to the usual Japanese and English calls in fighting games.

Even with the game's increased emphasis on multiplayer over single-player content, Tekken 7 remains a fun fighting game experience. The core mechanics are as tight as they've always been, and the new material adds some flair to rope in new players. The character roster is balanced between old and new fighters, with just about everyone getting some improvement to their skills. A good number of people are only interested in getting the fighters into ridiculous outfits. The PC iteration boasts a very healthy community and some nice graphical improvements over the console versions, so any gamer on the PC will be happy to have this fighting game in their grasp.

Score: 8.5/10

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