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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Tekken Dark Resurrection (Namco for PSP)

By Michael Palisano

Tekken Dark Resurrection is a remarkably proficient title that brings the excitement, depth and nuance of an arcade fighter to the PSP handheld. The game plays just as smoothly as you'd expect from a Tekken title, and hasn't been dumbed-down to fit onto the handheld. A large number of characters, deep moves lists and multiple modes of play are proof of this. From a technical standpoint, the game controls smoothly once you get used to the PSP's quirks, and the fighters are challenging with plenty of moves to master. More impressively, the graphics engine rivals that seen in console games, and makes the game a joy to watch in action. All these elements combine to make Dark Resurrection a robust, exciting fighting game that's sets a new standard of excellence other handheld platforms will be hard-pressed to match.

You'd expect there to be some adjustments made to squeeze a full-fledged arcade title into the handheld confines of the PSP, but the remarkable thing about Tekken Dark Resurrection on the PSP isn't what Namco left out, but how much the experience mirrors the PS2 edition of Tekken 5 with little degradation in aesthetic or gameplay quality. The game sets its tone immediately with an outstanding opening cinema that sets the stage for the action to come, while the initial stage selection nearly overwhelms you with more than 30 characters, including 2 new ones, available from the outset. Most of the familiar Tekken cast is present immediately, with no need to spend time unlocking characters, the game allows you to jump into the fray almost immediately. The action unfolds at a typically blistering pace with the usual selection of combos, chains and super attacks that make each fight an intense battle between warriors. 

Each character brings a unique set of strengths and weaknesses to the arena, with some better at attacking while other emphasize defense moves. The fighting system should be immediately familiar to Tekken veterans, with many battles decided in terms of momentum and speed, making the gameply unfold much faster than in other fighters. This has been well-established over the past decade and Dark Resurrection doesn't stray far from familiar territory. The game's controls remain tight and responsive, and most players should have little trouble performing the basic moves. The game uses the PSP's face buttons effectively, with the face buttons appropriately mapped. Players can also configure the buttons and add additional functions to the shift keys, as you'd expect. Players can choose to use either the analog or digital controller for movement, and while each does a good job, they both have drawbacks. Using the standard controller allows for more precise movements, but makes jumping and circular movements difficult to perform, while the analog stick fixes this problem, it also seems less accurate. It takes some time to get used to the slightly odd functionality, but these controls become more intuitive once you become accustomed to them.

The basic fighting game mechanics are impressive and give Dark Resurrection plenty of depth in its standard fighting modes, but the game extends its replay value with a number of interesting modes and extra features. As expected, players can choose to play in the standard arcade and versus modes, or choose to polish their skills in practice mode. As you play matches in these various modes, you'll earn additional points which increase your character's overall ranking, adding to the challenge of the gameplay. In addition to these standard modes, you can also play through each character's Story mode, which allows you to see more details behind their origins and motivations for entering the tournament. One of the more interesting modes is the Tekken Dojo mode, where players compete in a series of training missions that allow them to build up their skills and unlock additional items as well. This adds a lot of depth and challenge to the proceedings, and actually helps to polish your skills. One of the more impressive features of the game is that Tekken Dark Resurrection lets players go online and compete with other players in the PSP's wireless mode. Setting up games and meeting opponents is fairly simple thanks to the intuitive menu system, and the game plays just as smoothly online as of, with little in the way of lag or drop out. In addition, there are some community features where you can also upload ghost and ranking data, download extra items such as wallpaper and more. All in all, this is one of the more robust handheld packages in terms of functionality and features that we've seen on the PSP to date, with many paths that should keep you entertained and challenged for quite some time.

Previous attempts at bringing the look feel and polish of a modern 3D fighter to handheld systems have generally fallen far short of the mark, but Tekken Dark Resurrection's brilliant graphics engine is remarkably robust and allows for a full-fledged console quality presentation that's absolutely breathtaking. Tekken's fighting stages show a high degree of variety, ranging from roof-tops, color-saturated urban roof-tops, stunningly realistic outdoor stages and more. Each stage in the game shows a remarkable level of detail, showcasing excellent arrays of lighting effects, environmental effects and more to give the game a remarkably cohesive feel throughout. The production values are further enhanced by the game's range of character animations, which look fluid and lifelike at points, with outstanding rendering used to make each character come to life vividly. Multiple outfits, stage variations and other special features add to the replay value. Tekken also features an excellent camera system allow for smooth and convincing transitions in 3D space, making this one of the best looking titles on the PSP to date, one that rivals the best titles on console in terms of overall quality. An excellent, driving techno soundtrack completes the presentation, giving the game a glossy finish and polish that truly showcases the PSP's technical power, outclassing anything else on the console, and Namco makes this feat seam effortless.

While Tekken's size has been shrunken down a bit, the gameplay itself remains as robust and deep as you'd expect it to be. There's little compromise made here in terms of depth, challenge and controls. Dark Resurrection definitely looks, feels and plays like a Tekken title should, and its short matches, multiple extra modes of play and non-linear approach make it perfect for either a quick session on the go, or a deeper play session while at home. Using the PSP's d-pad and face buttons takes some getting used to, but this installment is otherwise flawless and impresses in a number of areas. Namco has succeeded in taking the excitement and challenge of the arcade game and squeezing it onto the PSP is a remarkable accomplishment from a technical standpoint. Add in the smooth controls, deep moves lists and multiple modes of play and you have one of the finest handheld titles to date, in terms of overall quality. All of this has been tied together nicely, and the addictive gameplay, challenging extra modes and superlative presentation makes Tekken Dark Resurrection an absolute must own and other brilliant title from Namco-Bandai.

Grade: B

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