I’m just going to start this review guns blazing. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is hands-down, the quintessential Tekken experience. After 18 years of fine-tuning the series, Katsuhiro Harada and the geniuses over at Namco Bandai have managed to concoct a game that possesses everything you could ever want in a fighter. With a whopping 59 characters, an deceptively simple yet deep fighting system and a slew of polished online and offline game modes, it’s hard not to be spoiled for choice.
If you’ve played or dabbled with Tekken 6 before this, you’ll feel right at home with TTT2. The majority of the game’s engine borrows heavily from its predecessor, with the exception of the fan-favourite tag mechanic, which makes a welcome return from its 1999 debut. Characters navigate on a 3D plane, with each button controlling a limb of the fighter along with a dedicated tag button. Sounds simple enough? It is, but in classic Tekken style, this approach in design makes for an extremely accessible, yet incredibly deep system. Whereas Street Fighter focuses on pinpoint precision and timing to lay down combos, Tekken is more akin to memorisation.
The juggle-based combo system allows for entire strings that can be skillfully triggered, creating an engine that makes pulling off impressive combos a cinch, while still providing extra layers to master. Drop two newbies in front of TTT2 and you can comfortably bet they’ll have a more enjoyable experience dancing around the battlefield with Eddie Gordo than trying to throw Hadokens with Ryu or Ken.
However, as with the majority of fighters out there, newcomers to the series will undoubtedly get decimated by long-time veterans. Watching someone launch you into the air, only to be followed by an almost god-like combo can most certainly make you question how you could ever reach such a competitive level. Thankfully enough, TTT2 has a remarkable amount of training facilities at your disposal that makes reaching this level more of a reality than ever before.
Fight Lab for example, breaks down the game’s mechanics into small bite-sized tutorials, giving beginners the lowdown on basic movements and fundamentals; all the way through to sophisticated tag mechanics. It’s all presented with a surprisingly humorous back-story, making the learning experience far more memorable than your run of the mil “this does that” tutorial mode. Think of it as Street Fighter’s trial mode, doused in the usual Tekken silliness and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about.
Once Fight Lab has broken you in, the offline customary Training Mode contains an incredible amount of options and tools that will have you crafting your own combos in no time. Frame data, punish states, and most importantly the command list (which shows the computer performing the attack, timing and all) are all present to help you the reach the next Evolution Fighting Tournament. Being a long-time Tekken fanatic myself, the wealth of information and options that TTT2 presents is simply staggering. The simple function of sticking a move from the command list on-screen helped me immensely in getting strings down, and it’s minor touches like this that make TTT2 Training Mode one the most refined modes in a fighting game yet.
While presentation in fighting games is a point I normally shuffle to the side, credit must be given to game’s simply drop dead gorgeous engine. With up to four characters able to dominate the screen at any one time, not once did the game fumble at delivering a stable 60 FPS, despite all the craziness happening on screen. Character models enter and exit the battlefield with incredible fluidity and grace, making for a buttery smooth fighting experience. Taking the fight online was just as a pleasant as it was off, providing zero lag and almost connection error free. Take note Capcom, no post-release patches needed.
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