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July 2018

Tekken 7

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


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Tekken 7'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 22, 2016 @ 2:30 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.

Pre-order Tekken 7

While Street Fighter has been the king of the 2-D fighting game franchises, it's hard to say that Tekken doesn't hold the same role for the 3-D genre. Since the days of the PlayStation One, Tekken has been one of the most prolific and respected fighting game franchises on the market. It's no surprise that the first next-gen entry in the franchise, Tekken 7, appears to be pulling out all the stops. We got some hands-on time with Tekken 7 at E3 2016, and it looked very good indeed.

Tekken has had a decade-long storyline, but it's always been weaved in and out of the gameplay. There have been plots going on since the very first Tekken game, but it looks like Tekken 7 is very interested in integrating story and gameplay in a way that is unusual for the franchise. The plan is for the bombastic action-packed cut scenes to lead directly into the gameplay and vice versa. A cut scene may feature a Quick Time Event (QTE) where a button press leads directly into the fight with a brutal first hit. Likewise, we saw that fights may require players to do more than just beat the enemy. A fight between Heihachi and Akuma could only end if Heihachi successfully interrupted Akuma's charged fireball, or else it would continue. The plotline in Tekken 7 is being billed as the end of the Mishima family plotline, which has been the central focus of the franchise from the very beginning, with everything leading up to a final battle between Heihachi Mishima and the rest of his family.

Gameplay-wise, much of Tekken 7 will feel familiar to Tekken fans. The combat is still heavily focused on close-up hand-to-hand combat. While you can't call Tekken "realistic," it's a different tone from its counterparts. Combat focuses a lot more on brawling, counters and grabs, and while supernatural attacks certainly do exist, they're not omnipresent like they are in Street Fighter. Based on our time with the game, not much has changed for Tekken 7. The gameplay is fast and frantic, and fights can end in a few moments. Stages are destructible, and you can use that to your advantage. At the end of the day, it's about the clash of fist to fist, but there are some mechanics to keep in mind.

The three big new mechanics in the game are Power Crushes, Rage Arts and Rage Drives. Power Crushes are similar to Focus Attacks from Street Fighter IV in that they're moves with super armor that can soak a hit or two and allow the character to damage someone even through their own attack. When a Tekken character gets low on health, he or she enters Rage Mode, during which time they're surrounded by a red aura that increases the damage they can do. While in Rage Mode, they can perform a Rage Art, which is effectively a high-damage super move. Hit or miss, the Rage Art instantly disables Rage Mode. Likewise, Rage Drive is a character-specific special move. Every character has a move, but a Rage Drive tends to be a move that is very safe, comes out quick, or otherwise has some significant advantage. It can only be used while in Rage Mode and removes the Rage aura but can turn the tide of battle.

One of the biggest surprises in Tekken 7 is the inclusion of Street Fighter long-time villain, Akuma. Guest characters in fighting games are nothing new, but Akuma seems a bit above and beyond. Apparently he's integrated closely into the story and will be a part of the overall plot. A promise he made to Heihachi Mishima's deceased wife led him to seek out and fight Heihachi as well as Heihachi's son, Kazuya.

Gameplay-wise, Akuma is an interesting addition to the cast. He's not "Akuma in Tekken" but appears to be almost identical to his Street Fighter self. He has access to all of his special moves from the Street Fighter series done exactly with the same button combinations, so anyone with knowledge of Akuma can pick up the character and hop right in. Considering the design of Tekken, that makes him a distinctive character. His spinning kick is great for catching enemies who are trying to evade off-guard, and his fireball gives him far more range than most characters. He even has an EX bar, which is unique to Tekken characters and influences how his special moves work. It's rare to see a guest character integrated quite so closely into the game.

Tekken 7 looks like an interesting addition to the long-lasting fighting game franchise. It's billing itself as the end of an era, but the gameplay seems as solid and exciting as ever. There's clearly a lot of care put into each character — even their borrowed frenemy from Street Fighter — and the visuals are top-notch. There are no surprises here, just an overall solid-looking fighting game that is a boatload of fun to play. Fans of the franchise will have a lot to look forward to when Tekken 7 hits PS4, Xbox One and PC in early 2017.

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