Presuming the fighting game was in renaissance, it's now in danger of eating itself. Barely a
month passes without another stalwart series making a fleet-footed plunge for your wallet, as if somehow our brains are up to the task of memorising an infinite number of systems, combo lists and chisel-chested characters.
Seemingly aware of this relentless overexposure, Namco has decided to let Tekken become what it was always destined to be: the first fighting game comedy. Everything in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is funny. The backgrounds are bizarre and hilarious. The roster is mental - for every karateka or judo guy, there's a giant bear or a dinosaur. And the customisation options are so robust that you can legitimately go into battle with a wet fish in your hand and a helicopter cap on your head, and no one will bat an eyelid.
But that doesn't mean it's anyone's fool. Effectively a best-of compilation, it delivers the fastest, most immediate and evocative game of Tekken in the series' illustrious history. Every move looks and sounds like it hurts; every blocked strike is greeted with a metallic puff of blue smoke and a pounding thud from the subwoofer.
The two-on-two dynamic does change the fl w of the action, but not as dramatically as, say, Marvel vs. Capcom or even Street Fighter X Tekken. This is still the four-button-four-limbed assault it's always been, and those versed in the ways of the Iron Fist can still bust out combos like it's 1996. You switch teammates sparingly, usually when one is in trouble (a single KO is enough to defeat both combatants), and it's entirely possible to do well fighting as a lone wolf against a team of two.
All the rage
When one fighter does get dangerously close to death, his or her partner will activate a 'rage' mode, which makes their attacks significantly stronger. It's a system that's designed around forcing you to tag rather than a complicated strategic balancing act, but as your skills improve you can start to incorporate rage into your attacks. Tag Assaults let you switch characters in the middle of a juggle (still the best way to play), so marrying those with a bit of good ole-fashioned rage is a recipe for violence and rapidly depleting health bars.
Outside the ring, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 offers a superbly robust set of online options, as well as a curious and comical single-player campaign known as Fight Lab. Here, you take on the role of a combat robot, who becomes self-aware and picks-and-chooses different characters' moves to become some sort of hybrid metal death machine.
It's the first time a traditional fighter has really let players tinker with the type of create-a-fighter options usually reserved for wrestling games, and it's all backed up with daft cutscenes and a real sense of mischief. As always, though, the real joy comes from battling friends in the same room, hearing the roars and cheers erupting over the click-clack of frantically-battered fight sticks.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 doesn't offer quite enough over its predecessor to warrant any sort of classic status, but it's unquestionably another masterful piece of work from a team who have been doing this sort of thing forever. Like Street Fighter IV before it, this is a scrapper that should satisfy the hardcore while also giving a big warm nostalgic hug to those who ditched digital fighting back in the '90s. The fight game scene might be caving in on itself, but Tekken Tag Tournament 2 has enough raw personality and fundamental quality to not be part of the problem.
The most accessible Tekken ever
- Lightning quick
- Looks fantastic
- Genuinely funny
- Not a huge step forward
- No Tekken Bowl