Tekken 7 is accessible to anyone who wants to mash buttons, and the enormous amount of customization unlocks give you something to strive for beyond its story.
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Tekken 7 is quite familiar on the surface, taking place on the series’ signature 3D stages which allow you to move to your enemy’s sides as well as forward and back. The attacks are inspired by Asian martial arts and other fighting styles from all around the world, placing the significance on strikes and a little on the projectiles which are typical for other fighting games. The movement is more elegant, and carelessly jumping or dashing can be fatal.
Tekken 7’s pace comes from the Mishima Saga, the new story mode which is created for the console and PC versions. The Mishima Saga searches for the healthy and emotionally stable relationships inside the Mishima clan, where the sons are obsessed with murdering their father, and because of that their fathers can’t help but throw their sons into the nearest lava pit. Heihachi, his son Kazuya and his grandson Jin all operate trillion-dollar corporations with militaries that are more advanced than most industrialized nations while trying to take each other out. While the Mashima Saga attempts to portray Heihachi in a good light by giving motivation for his infamously chucking Kazuya into an erupting volcano decades ago.
Anyway, there is a charm to the whole over-the-top nature of Tekken’s lore and the embracing of anime tropes, and the short character-specific chapters included in the Mishima Saga help lighten the mood while also serving nostalgia. When King battles Jack, Jack uses the artificial intelligence to duplicate King’s fighting style, so the famous luchador uses maneuvers borrowed from his long-time friend Marduk and from its rival Armor King. When Yoshimitsu tries to infiltrate the Mishima Dojo, he finds Leo and battles the girl before changing his heart and catching a knee in the groin for his troubles.
The Mishima Saga’s story is similar to the story mode in Injustice 2, changing points of view between Heihachi and his progeny, Tekken Force rebel Lars, and the special guest Akuma. However, Tekken 7 offers the ability to use simple inputs while playing the Mishima Saga to perform a handful of pre-selected attacks, making the transition into playing a character with whom you might not be familiar quite easy.
The Mishima Saga’s short, three-hour duration cast made the events of this story feel important only to the Mishima clan. Other fighters are given a little time in the spotlight with the optional side missions that are in the Mashima Saga mode. The disappointing thing is that the focus is only on Heihachi, Jin and Kazuya and their struggle for power over the Mishima Zaibatsu and one another.
Tekken 7 doesn’t disappoint in its character customization options, which put it truly in a class by itself and sets the new standard for expressing yourself. The cosmetics are modified, they include attack effects, colorful auras, portraits and tile backgrounds. You are allowed to choose from hundreds of options for the framed art around the health bar.
The extra content is unlocked by completing matches in online Tournaments, Treasure Battle or by spending the Fight money, which is earned by playing. The amount of content in the character appearance gives a lot of fights to finish in order to collect the hats, shirts, costumes and alternate artwork.
These looks go with an overlooked element to the Tekken characters, which are delivered: the old faces look new, rather than sticking to the tried-and-true costumes and the designs from previous games. Lars has a new armor. Heihachi has a samurai-inspired look. King wears a cape. And the Street Fighter’s characters Ryu and Sagat, King od Fighter’s Iori have the classic, iconic looks.
Inside the excellent cosmetics, some tweaks were made to the combat mechanics. The sidestepping in Tekken 7 is slower and not as useful for baits or defense, while the back movement is improved. This puts attention on the short and middle ranges, which feel more comfortable. While the sidestepping is less useful and it is no longer a universal weapon against certain characters who lack strong tracking attacks.
The new damage scaling reduces the amount of damage longer combos do, with the launcher damage down from Tekken 6 and total damage dropping sharply from the fourth hit of a juggle onward. But, continuing to practice combo execution is obligated, as wall-carry combos are crucial even if they are not doing that much of a damage. The changes are more forgiving for the newer faces among us.
This is the most technical fighting game on the planet. The combo system is changing to be more streamlined by replacing the traditional Bound bounces from previous versions with Screw Attacks, and there is still an opportunity to get lost exploring the artful flow of each match. No other fighting games master imparting a feeling of each fight growing organically, living and breathing like Tekken, and Tekken 7 is the best one of the series.
Tekken 7 still manages to be something you can pick up, press the buttons and start to play. It doesn’t matter who you are or what level is your skill, you can always pick Eddie and start tapping the kick buttons.
The action goes down with the soundtrack of drum-and-bass bangers. ”Empty Your Mind” from the Dragon’s Nest stage, ”Metallic Experience” from the Mishima Building stage, and even ”The Motion” from the Warm-Up Space had us nodding our heads along with the beats and beatdowns. Tekken 7 takes it an impressive step further by including the soundtracks to every single Tekken ever released.
The player can use its Fight Money to purchase marketing and concept pieces, original art and all the video cutscenes for every Tekken. This is a motherlode, and viewing some of this material quickly pulled me back in time to memories of years spent with Tekken, whether hours of matches of Tekken 3 with the friends from high school, countless quarters sank into Tekken Tag Tournament machines, or getting destroyed repeatedly by the Bay Area Tekken scene.
That’s all we have on Tekken 7 for now. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe!
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