While many recent fighting games like Street Fighter V and Injustice 2 have somewhat reinvigorated the 2D fighting genre, Tekken is back after a 5-year console break to deliver its trademark 3D fisticuffs to some eager gamers. The result is something familiar yet incredibly evolved, making Tekken 7 a joy to play and a rewarding challenge to master.
As mentioned, the game reintroduces fighting on a 3D plane, meaning players can strafe and dodge “up” or “down” away from attacks, and if anyone has never played a Tekken game, this is one of its defining features. There’s a great dynamic to attack and defence as a result of this, and new environmental hazards have been introduced to utilise this mechanic. Players can get their backs up against breakable environmental objects, or get lure their opponent towards an edge, knocking them down onto a lower platform or new stage in the level. It makes for tense matches, as you’ve got to be aware to not get yourself into a corner (and as a result, a pummeling).
New to the series are special, high-damage Rage movies. These super moves become available once you reach under 25% health and act as a bit of a second-wind fighting-chance for the player being beaten. They can be executed by a single button press but are easily blocked, so the real skill comes in integrating them into a chain in order to use them with devastating effect. It’s a welcome addition that adds some unpredictability to uneven fights.
One thing Tekken has always had on its opposition is its looks. Since Tekken on the original Playstation and Tekken Tag Tournament dazzling on the PS2, the franchise has always looked superb, and Tekken 7 is no different. Sharp characters, bright colours, and some impressive particle effects make every fight a dazzling ballet of fireworks and broken jaws.
As for the story, it’s as bizarre and convoluted as a Matrix sequel, flowing from trying-to-be-serious father/son moments, to the campy and ridiculous. It’s an entertaining context to the flying fists and legs on screen, but it’s not going to invest you too heavily into its family-drama motief for smashing faces.
With its colourful roster of characters, deep yet accessible fighting mechanics, and gorgeous visuals, Tekken 7 packs a serious punch, reminding the contenders in the ever-growing fighting genre that, despite its absurd plot, the King is still very much at the throne.