Welcome to the King of Iron First Tournament, Tag Tournament that is. The 8th game in the series and the direct sequel to 2000′s Tekken Tag Tournament, Namco Bandai’s Tekken Tag Tournament 2 promises a huge amount of characters and modes to please both old and new Tekken fans. I’m going to start with the gameplay and then break down each mode and other small factors. Get Ready For The Next Battle.
Round 1: Fight!!
Let me get three things out of the way: 1. If one fighter gets K.O’d then both lose! 2. TTT2′s mechanics are basically the same as Tekken 6′s with the exception of having a partner. What this means is that the things that many people hated about T6, the juggling and bounds for instance, are here too. However if you enjoyed T6 then you have nothing to fear. 3. You’ll need to become proficient with at least two characters, not just one.
Before you run off, T6 naysayer, please allow me to explain the tagging system in place here, afterall it is what this game is all about. Once you have selected your two characters and a match begins the first change you will notice is the two health bars above both you and your opponent(unless they are playing solo).
You may also have noticed the three colours on the health bars. Blue is your standard remaining health, yellow indicates damage inflicted and the tactically useful red also indicates damage that has been inflicted but which can be regained by tagging you character out, once tagged out the character will slowly regenerate the damaged health.When you are taking a beating your partner will enter Rage mode…
…and his/her health bar will glow, this will allow him/her to inflict extra damage for a period of time and also allows Tag Crash(see below). It may not seem like much, but to the serious Tekken fan these changes add more layers of strategy.
Enough about the health bars, lets get to the tagging. At any time during the fight you can tag your partner in by a press of a button(RI,L1 or R3 for PS3). That gives you a simple character swap, however there are many ways to tag in this game. Tag Throws( Δ+R1) allows you to perform a two man throw that ends in a character swap.
Certain characters have unique tag throw animations depending on who you team them up with. You also have Tag Combos which can be activated after executing certain launch moves and hitting R1, this allows your partner to quickly swap and continue the combo before the opponent hits the ground. Tag Assault can be acheived by hitting R1 just as you execute a bound move, this will result in both characters taking turns beating up the opponent, holding R1 instead of tapping it will result in your partner automatically performing an assist combo.
Tag Crash is more of a defensive move, once your partner is in rage mode, and you are lying on the ground you can hit Δ+R1 to have your partner instantly attack the opponent while allowing you to get away. This comes at a cost however, the rage is depleted and any recoverable health(the red part) is lost. Tekken has a rep of being a button masher, and while that may be true, as you can see its also a very deep game and as a result caters to just about any fighting game fan.
Round 2: Offline Modes and Features
ARCADE BATTLE: TTT2 doesn’t have a story mode or even much of a story, the closest thing to it is Arcade Battle. In this mode you’ll bring your characters through 9 stages and at the end you will get to view and unlock that character’s ending cutscene if you can beat Unknown, a supernatural entity returning from TTT, who is slightly cheap but not bad compared to Seth.
GHOST BATTLE: This mode allows you to battle ‘ghosts’ (cpu characters) until you’re blue in the face, its the best method of ranking up your fighters and can be useful for unlocking ending movies and bonus prizes. A neat feature is that ghost data can be downloaded from anyone who plays online and as a result you gain more ‘ghosts’ to battle against.
VS BATTLE: For a mode that gets so much use, its strange how little needs to be said about it.
TEAM BATTLE: Pick a team of up to 8 characters and battle a friends team or CPU team.
TIME ATTACK: Basically the same as arcade mode but it’s all about speed.
SURVIVAL: How many teams can you take down with a limited amount of health? Is the name of the game here.
PRACTICE: Useful for those not familiar with the tag system yet.
PAIR PLAY: Perhaps the most fun mode in the entire game. 2-4 people can play on one screen in 2 vs 2 or 2 vs 1 OR 2 friends can team up against the cpu. This is a mode that is well suited to party gaming and usually results in fun/amusing/exciting fights.
Round 3: Fight Lab
TTT2 introduces Fight Lab, a mode where you control a robot named Combot as your creator, Violet, guides you through stages which just so happen to be a perfect place to learn the ropes of TTT2. TTT2 is perfect for beginners and Combot himself is highly customisable, you can equip him with a mixture of other fighters moves to create a deadly weapon. I had a lot of fun with this mode and it’s wacky challenges, not least the Street Fighter nod thrown in there.
Round 4: Online Mode
Online mode is probably the main attraction for most who will play this game and rightly so, it’s much more robust than T6′s attempt.
RANKED MATCH: Is your standard match, be it 2v2 2v1 or 1v1. Here is where you’ll be spending many hours if you want to rank up which is made much more pleasant this time as match making has been improved. No longer will you stare at a dialogue box while waiting for an opponent, instead you are taken to a practice stage where you may fight a training dummy(mokujin) until you get a match. I have experienced some lag here but its mostly been stable. Pair Play is also possible here in co-op form only and although I have not tested it myself I have faced off against 2 people at once and they worked very efficiently as a team. This mode really needs a rematch option however, and I’m wondering why it is absent.
PLAYER MATCH: Much the same as ranked although its not ranked(I’m sorry for insulting your intelligence) and you can set your own parameters, such as number of rounds and time limits.
TEAM: Another mode which I have not used, although it simply allows you to join a team if you sign up to the World Tekken Federation with a Bandai ID. Joining a team will allow you to display your team name and emblem during a fight.
TEKKEN CHANNEL: Allows you to search for and watch various saved replays from online fights.
LEADERBOARDS: Let you see how you compare to the rest of the world.
Overall, online mode is a blast and is where you’ll likely sink dozens or even hundreds of hours.
Round 5: Miscellaneous
PRESENTATION: Graphics aren’t everything, and that’s especially true for fighters, so it’s an added bonus that TTT2 is gorgeous. Characters look extra detailed up close and little touches like clothing and skin getting torn and dirty makes you realise how polished this game is. The menus could be better designed however, feeling sluggish and contrasting with the fluidity of the fighting itself. Ending cutscenes are very well made, some of them are in CG while others take various artistic approaches, like Forest Law’s scrap book cut-out style or Raven’s, which looks like a Japanese painting come to life. My favourite ending goes to Lars however which is quite goofy but also sad when you think about it.
ROSTER: The number of characters here is impressive I have counted 49 on my character select screen, although those who have pre-ordered will have a further 10 characters for an amazing total of 59. Fear not the bonus 10 will be available to all through free DLC(my favourite kind of DLC) in the near future. Some of these characters, like Angel and Jun have not been seen since the days of Tekken 2 and provide ample opportunity so create your dream Tekken battles. Not only has the roster been expanded but many characters have had their movesets expanded. For example Kazuya can transform into Devil at anytime and by doing so unlock new moves.
STAGES: As for the stages, they are beautiful and a step up from T6. Some will give you deja vu, remember moonlit wilderness in T5? Its back, this time from a different perspective. Stages are also more interactive now, with walls that break, floors that can be fallen through and balconies that can be used to knock your opponent down to where your partner is waiting, making stage selection more important than you would at first think. The music complements each stage marvelously and gets you in the mood for throwing slaps.
CUSTOMIZE: Customisation has also been improved upon since T6 and gives you something to spend your hard earned cash on. It’s always fun making your favourite character look badass or making him look like a complete fool, this also makes playing online feel fresh and personal.
TEKKEN TUNES: Here’s another new feature which is very welcome, although the soundtrack to TTT2 is excellent(with some beautiful remixes of past Tekken songs) you have the option of selecting what songs play on what stage or menu. You can pick any song, and I mean ANY song that you have on your hard drive, I have hotel california as the main menu music because why not? If you would rather play music from older Tekken titles then you can do so when the dlc becomes available(or you could just download them and put them on your hard drive).
Final Round: Verdict
If you’re a Tekken fan then this is a dream come true, its not without its flaws but after playing for 44 hours(so far) I believe it stands up there with the best of them. You got just about every character you would want in your Tekken (sadly no Gon has been revealed as of yet) and a robust online system to prove yourself. Perhaps the juggling and bounds are too much to overlook for you, and I can respect that decision, it’s not easy being on the receiving end of a juggle/bound combo and feeling completely helpless, however it’s nice to dish it out.
I give Tekken Tag Tournament 2 a respectable 6.5 bananas out of 7 ltrs.
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