This is the focus in the latest iteration of one of Bandai Namco’s longest standing franchises to date. Tekken 7 is a true homage to the Fighting genre, long-initiated fans of the Mishima family and the many personas that surround them. With gorgeous visuals, a redefined online experience and a Story Mode that orchestrally brings together the many pieces of the Mishima Zaibatsu and G Corporation rivalry that has long been scattered throughout previous titles, Tekken 7 strikes a flawless victory in almost every facet.
For the ill-informed, Tekken is one of the longest standing fighting franchises to date, establishing itself as a solid arcade title in the early 90’s. We’ve seen a slew of improvements and additions throughout the past two decades, new characters and game modes (wacky, in some instances) to name a few. Tekken 7 follows suit here, but holding arguably the biggest redefinition to date. A new experience begins with an all-new story mode, The Mishima Saga. Throughout my two and a half hour playthrough, I was thrown through a rollercoaster of backstory and unveiling of the dark secrets of the Mishima Zaibatsu, it’s near world-ending rivalry with G Corporation, and the turmoil of ebbs and flows through the Mishima dynasty.
While previous attempts at a story-based mode have sometimes felt, simply, unfulfilling, The Mishima Saga feels little like filler content, and more likened to a heart-wrenching tale that will take a budding Tekken fan through a whirlwind of emotions. Throughout your playthrough, you’ll play as the immortal Heihachi and a slew of other characters from the world of Tekken, with Alisa, Lars, Lee appearing as playable foes, as well as an unlikely resistance in Street Fighter’s Akuma. While The Mishima Saga paints a near-perfect envisioning of the secrets and lies that were inadvertently hidden for decades, a feat of more of Tekken 7’s characters would have been a welcome addition.
If you’re hell bent on being unable to lay some beatdown as Shaheen (a keffiyah-wielding Saudi militarian) or any number of the new faces spotlighted in Tekken 7, one-on-one bouts are of specialty this time round. While one of my favourite modes, Team Battle, is absent here, one-on-one battles have been redefined meticulously through the introduction of Rage Art. Seen often in other arcade fighters, Rage Art unintentionally alters both technique and style, adding a new dimension to your arsenal. Using combos and a foray of build-up attacks, Rage Art unleashes boundless damage on your opponent with a simple tap of the R1 button. With a rush of adrenaline violently contained under a big red button, it’s an exciting feat to send your opponent into damage control, or carefully accrue your blast as a battle-ending finesse.
While Tekken’s Player Customisation has always been a true highlight, Tekken 7 takes Player, Profile and Arena customisation to an upper echelon. While player costumes and alternate fits make a primary reappearance, you’re constantly thrown new health bar decorations, tags, slogans and near anything your mind may translate bragging power to as unlockables after each battle or mode clear. It’s truly overwhelming at times, and with Tekken 7’s generous 3,000,000 coin gift upon boot-up, you’ll have many an impulse to carelessly splash your funds on from battle zero.
While the opinions of Tekken’s Multiplayer offerings have been long divided amongst fans, Tekken 7 really does do its utmost to settle the debate. Local Multiplayer cements itself yet again with co-operative play as well as casual Vs Battles (despite the aforementioned absence of Team Battle), while the Online flavour presents a much better base than that seen in previous iterations. While the legacy ranking system returns, with seasoned promotion matches as your way up, my experience with online warfare was smooth, with little latency issues. The occasional hiccup did make its way into some transitions between character select and matchmaking, my fingers (and toes) are crossed for a minor update to the bandage up this minor bruise.
Graphics and Sound
We’ve seen the Tekken franchise grow in almost every facet in recent iterations, and in short, Tekken 7 presents itself with gorgeous lighting, blooming and buttery smooth framerates, all of which are crucial to the success of a competitive arcade fighting title. While your eyes will no doubt be fixated on your opponent in the heat of battle, it is difficult not to notice the dynamic arenas, introduced originally in the birth of Tekken 4. Punishing opponents through destructive walls and floors is as satisfying as ever, especially when accompanied by the hi-energy, techno compositions that embody a true arcade tournament fighter. The fast-paced drum and bass tunes appear, as traditional as ever, and despite the sounds of Tekken never being a primary focus, it’s white noise that enables the rhythm and spurring on of each of your battles.
With a solid redefinition of almost every facet of its character, Tekken 7 re-establishes itself as Playstation’s ‘King of the Arcade’, whilst still bringing no compromises to its console brethren. With its emotional re-telling of the Mishima family story and its legacy, unrivalled player customisation options and a tweak of its character roster and game mechanics to boot, it’s a truly special time to enter the ring as a newbie, and an even better time to be revived as a previous fan. Without no doubt – the King of the Iron Fist Tournament is back.