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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Tekken 6 (Playstation 3)

Namco's classic fighting franchise returns with the long-awaited Tekken 6. This edition doesn't add too much on the gameplay front, but retains the solid feel and tight controls the series has become known for. Its biggest change this time around are the HD visuals, which look noticeably sharper on the PS3 which gives the game a somewhat more polished look. This version also delivers online play and a disappointing scenario mode. There aren't many surprises, but the ability to play some of your favorites, build custom characters and use them online in a new form is impressive and makes Tekken 6 a good purchase that will please fans of the series.

Those who remember Sony's 2005 E3 press conference when they revealed the Playstation 3 to a stunned audience for the first time will also know that one of the more impressive titles shown on the demo reel was Namco's Tekken 6. Later released in the arcades, the fighter was an impressive technical achievement for the series and caused quite a stir in Japan. Early in the PS3's lifespan, Namco also released an updated HD version of Tekken 5, subtitled Dark Resurrection, to tide fans over during the long development process. This version of the game also appeared scaled back on the PSP. Now, after what seems like an interminable wait, the legendary Tekken series has finally made its first full scale appearance on the PS3. It's a smooth, polished fighter, but with the advent of other fighters on the console, such as Soul Calibur IV and Street Fighter IV, the question is whether its been worth the wait.

Featuring about 40 playable characters right from the start, Tekken 6 delivers a fairly solid roster of playable fighters. The series' long-standing gameplay mechanics haven't changed much over the past few installments, and those who've become accustomed to its play style won't find much innovation here. Many of the characters have the same moves lists as in previous installments which means all their signature moves remain intact. There are a few tweaks and minor changes if you look closely, and a couple of new characters make appearances which helps to keep things a from becoming stale. The real stars include everyone you expect to see in a Tekken title, such as Jin, Paul Phoenix, Yoshimitsu, Marshall Law, Eddy, Nina Williams, Christie, Heihachi, Julia Chang, Jack, Bryan Fury, King along with the weird Panda and Kangaroo characters. A couple of new characters have been added and they generally fit right into the mix. These additions include a fighter named Lars Alexandersson, the new leader of Tekken force, who has a funky hairstyle and some cool moves, Miguel a Spanish brawler who watches his sister killed by the Mishima and seeks revenge. Other new characters include Bob, a rotund karate expert from America, and a mysterious girl named Alisa who was found inside her father's lab by the Tekken Force. The game plays very much like previous games, though this time around, you're able to earn points and money that you can use to purchase items to customize your character's appearance. Similar to trophies, you accumulate money after each successful round, or by going through scenario mode. It's fairly easy to navigate the menus and each character has an extensive list of items you can use, which offers a fairly strong impetus to keep playing.

Another motivational factor comes in the fact that you earn higher rankings by winning matches in the various modes, and the difficulty increases simultaneously. Tekken 6's AI starts somewhat on the low side, but the opponents you face become less predictable and tougher as you move along. In the arcade mode, the end stages now feature a boss character, usually starting with Devil Jin and moving to a final battle with a winged character. These give you plenty of things to beat up on, and players will find the usual array of moves to use including throws, counters, blocks, super moves and other combos. There's an extensive move-list for each character, which you can find in the onscreen menu, handily allowing you to practice. As in the other Tekken games, you can kick or punch with any limb, jump or roll to evade attacks and more. However, in Tekken 6, there are now destructible environments in certain stages that you can use to inflict additional damage on your opponents. It's a minor addition, but it play a large part in some of the battles. The moves lists and specific specials are too numerous to list here, but most players will find the system fairly easy to learn and logical in the way it progresses. Most moves are fairly easy to perform using the standard controller, but using an arcade stick increases the game's arcade feel exponentially.

Tekken 6's flow and pacing is excellent in the arcade mode, which also features other variants including time-attack and survival modes. These allow you to challenge a series of opponents as you go through an endless succession of foes in either a clocked mode or testing your skills by trying to defeat as many as possible on a single life bar. You can also polish your skills in the practice mode, where you can fight a dummy opponent and master the timing and sequence of your moves. This gives players the chance to play through the game without pressure, though any Tekken veteran should be able to play right through without much effort. The game feels very much like previous installments, and this familiarity makes it easy to jump into.

In addition to these standard gameplay modes, Tekken 6 allows you to compete online against other players. Setting up the matches and tournaments is a fairly simple task, but actually logging in and playing proved far too problematic to be useful in many ways. While its disappointing in its current execution, we hope that future updates and server fixes will make many of these problems disappear. The other main mode of play in the game is the scenario mode, an updated version of the Tekken Force mini-games seen in earlier console releases. This differs substantially from other sections of the game and is a run and punch mode that's similar to classics like Final Fight. In this mode you control a main character who battles alongside the mysterious girl Alisia as you try to uncover the battles between the two rival gangs war for world domination. The game offers a range of simple punch and kick moves, and you can collect numerous health and money power-ups along the way. Other items such as machine guns and weapons can be collected as well. Each stage is relatively short and simple, but the controls make things more frustrating than they need to be, and there are some sections which suffer from some very poor camera angles. However, its worth going through these stages, because they unlock a huge amount of money that you can use to purchase items for your characters. Unfortunately, the awkward controls mean you'll spend a lot of time punching and kicking at air, while enemies make a lot of damage on you. This can make for a frustrating experience that doesn't quite have the visual polish and solid gameplay of the main fighting game.

Despite the somewhat disappointing scenario mode and an iffy online experience, Tekken 6 still remains a solid fighting game that delivers the fast action, tight controls and entertaining characters players have come to expect from the series. While it doesn't have the epic feel of Soul Calibur, it's grittier feel has its own appeal amongst players. Its gameplay isn't as deep as Street Fighter IV, but's its not as difficult to master, which is a fairly decent tradeoff. Visually, the game looks fantastic with excellent backdrops and slick character animations. It's smooth and polished appearance makes the characters stand out in HD, and the fresh coat of paint rejuvenates the series. Tekken 6 is kind of a sleeper title, but in the end, it delivers a challenging and entertaining fighting experience that should please long-time series fans.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B

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