The Bottom Line
Release Date: June 1, 2017
Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platform: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Tekken 7 is a prime example of a great fighting game that has underwhelming content. Bandai Namco has created a worthy successor of its landmark franchise in its new suave and agile fighting mechanics, bringing a true next-gen Tekken to our lives, but drops the ball in terms of content.
It seems Bandai Namco has followed Capcom's strategy of carving out key content to be monetized later via season passes, including a new mode--one of which Tekken 7 so desperately needs. This model ensures Tekken 7 has a longer tail and can bring in more revenue outside of full-game sales alone, which has traditionally been the case for the series.
As a result of this monetization path, Tekken 7 feels decided incomplete in terms of content offered. There's no additional goofy mode like Tekken Ball or Tekken Bowling, and the game is missing its own additional Tekken Force mode to boot. The series is famous for these additional modes that offer gamers new ways to play and enjoy their favorite characters.
But Tekken 7 isn't just missing extra modes: it's missing core modes, too. For some reason, Bandai Namco has pulled out Team Battle, Survival Mode, or Time Attack modes altogether. Furthermore, Tekken 7 doesn't even have any real new modes of its own, breaking a long-standing tradition in the series.
Tekken 7's main modes are separated into two tiers: offline and online.
Offline modes include:
- Arcade Battle
- Treasure Battle (this is Ghost Battle from previous Tekkens, and is not new)
- VS Battle (1-on-1 couch battles)
- Practice Mode
- VR Mode
That's it. The only new mode featured in Tekken 7 is the VR Mode, and that's just a glorified practice mode in "virtual reality" on Sony's PlayStation VR that shouldn't even be there in the first place.
Major modes from previous Tekkens aren't even here. Bandai Namco could've taken the initiative to even pack in a unique Tekken Tag battle system to add even more value to the game, too.
But games-makers and publishers do not want to give full value all at once anymore. It's much more profitable to cut out key pieces of the game to sell later via extra content, microtransactions, DLC, add-ons, and other monetization paths.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2's full DLC content was made free to all players, and game producer Katsuhiro Harada promised in 2012 that the publisher would never charge money for extra characters.
But Tekken 7 does just that.
The game has a $24.99 season pass includes a number of unannounced new characters--possibly more cross-overs from Capcom's Street Fighter series. It's also likely that Bandai Namco will sell players extra characters in the season pass content, which will also be sold piecemeal on Steam, PlayStation Store, and Xbox LIVE.
It's worth noting that Tekken 7 is missing a few basic veteran characters like Anna and Lei, and extra newer characters such as Zafina.
The season pass not only sells new characters but will also include a new game mode, selling us back something that arguably should've been in the game in the first place.
Here's the full listing from the PlayStation Store:
"Extend your Tekken 7 experience with the Season pass! The Season Pass grants you access to three Tekken 7 content packs sold separately including:
New game mode
I understand where Bandai Namco is doing here, but as a long-time Tekken fan, I certainly don't like it.
Now it's worth noting that Tekken 7 has separated the actual in-game story from the arcade mode, following both Tekken 4 and Tekken 5. Tekken 6 had a unique Scenario Campaign mode that was like a beat-em-up upgraded Tekken Force mode.
But both Tekken 7's Story: The Mishima Saga and arcade modes leave much, much to be desired.
The main draw of Tekken 7 is the climactic battle between Kazuya and Heihachi. This rivalry has been brewing since the inception of the series, and now we finally have a conclusion...but it's not nearly as unique or as explosive as it should've been.
I won't go into too much about the story mode because of spoilers, but I will say that each "chapter" feels like a cheap knock-off rather than a fully-fledged campaign. Instead of doing anything unique, Bandai Namco simply ties in CGI cutscenes with mostly half-animated sequences like from Tekken 4 with arcade-style battle sequences.
A lot of the time we play as Akuma in the story mode. Akuma doesn't belong in a Tekken game, and his moves are horrible and straight out of Street Fighter, so unless you actually play Street Fighter, you won't have fun.
Instead of being a grand saga as it's billed in advertisements and trailers, the story mode is a very weak attempt to give conclusion to one of the most epic rivalries in video games history. I personally feel it's a mockery in a way, and Bandai Namco owes more to these characters--and the mystique they've built up through decades--than this story mode delivers.
Tekken 7 features the full arcade mode featured in the Tekken: Fated Retribution arcade game released in Japan. But here, in the console and PC home port, there's very little reason to actually play it.
When you beat arcade mode, you don't get a nifty cutscene like other Tekken games. You simply get a Game Over sequence.
The only reason to actually play it is to practice with your characters and earn Fight Money, which is Tekken 7's in-game currency that's used to buy customizations to outfit your character with items and the like. The arcade mode feels tacked on, and Bandai Namco once again should've done something extra here.
The best Tekken fighter yet: fast, chaotic, and brutally fun
Despite the sparse content, despite the disappointing modes and missing characters, Tekken 7 makes up for everything with its sheer level of fighting prowess.
I can confidently say that Tekken 7 looks and feels like the best Tekken in the series. Every match is electrifying, every round enthralling with high-octane chaos. Tekken 7 is fast and powerful, but it's also suave: it has the finesse of a high-quality fighting game while matching the explosively satisfying combos and anything-can-happen thrills of any typical successful arcade game.
With this entry, Bandai Namco throws in an equalizer mechanic in an attempt to give players a last ditch shot when they're losing.
This mechanic introduces Rage into the game similar to Tekken 6. When a player's health drops to a certain point, they can enable Rage Arts, which are set moves that trigger a mini cutscene where the character delivers multiple blows, or Rage Drives, a less damaging move.
At first, I was very very dubious about Rage Arts, but I'm happy to say Tekken 7 does them well. All Rage attacks can be blocked, and a blocked Rage Art or Rage Drive is rendered completely useless. It's great to have an extra set of moves that will help you out if you're in a jam.
Tekken 7's superb optimization quality has the markings of an extremely dedicated development team. Every character (except Akuma and Kazumi) has been optimized and balanced to a near perfect state, creating a strong feeling of empowerment with players.
The combat is smooth and enriched with impressive visuals, but more importantly, everything feels so fast and streamlined. Tekken 7 runs at a consistent 60FPS in-game, with some odd frame rate drops in loading menus. Bandai Namco has done a superb job leveraging the power and stability of the Unreal Engine, and Tekken 7 represents the unchallenged king of every Iron Fist to date in terms of fighting prowess.
The publisher has undoubtedly mastered the art of Tekken.
In a way, though, Tekken 7's stalwart fighting mechanics actually work against it. I find myself wanting to keep playing over and over, and every second I wait in a menu--the loading menus are actually pretty long, likely due to all the texture loading--feels like wasted time. I often smash through the limited two-round matches of Treasure Battle, which is the main mode I play since there's hardly any actual content modes.
Sadly, players aren't given control over key customization options and doesn't allow players to raise round counts in certain modes.
In other Tekken games, you can adjust how many rounds you want to play in certain modes. But in Tekken 7, you can only adjust round count in Vs Battle or Arcade Mode. So if you want to play more rounds, you're limited to those two modes.
This is a problem, and a frustrating one at that.
Furthermore, Tekken 7 doesn't let you play with the new battle modes. The game adds in awesome special parameters like Turbo Mode, which dramatically increases the speed of both players, and Double Damage Mode, which, of course, makes every strike deal double damage.
Bandai Namco could've done some impressive and unique things with these modes, or even let players make up their own mode and share them only.
Sadly, there's nothing of the sort in Tekken 7.
Rather than spread out its focus across the board, Bandai Namco pinpointed its focus to specific modes and content.
The combat is fantastic, and the online modes are interesting, if not plague with disconnecting issues. It's clear that the devs put effort into the story to flesh it out, but the actual episodic execution feels cheap and unrewarding in nearly every way. Ditto for the lackluster PlayStation VR mode, which feels tacked-on at the last minute.
Apart from the combat and balancing optimizations, the developer has created one of the most advanced tutorial systems that empower players to become Tekken maters.
Tekken 7's practice mode is absolutely amazing. Bandai Namco went far above the call of duty here, and provided a massively useful training grounds for new and old players alike.
Users have so many different options to completely and totally control how they want to practice. For example, if you're weak against a certain character, you can literally program the practice CPU to perform a particular move--or set of moves--repeatedly.
The practice mode gives you the tools to refine your skills for every single character, and is an incredibly useful asset to prepare you for online play.
Online Modes: Authentic arcade action across the net
The online modes are also very well thought out.
Online has three different ways to play:
- Ranked Matches
- Player Matches
Playing online against people across the globe is a great idea, but in execution, it's not always fun. A lot of the time I've had major problems connecting to other players. I get error messages like "the connection to the player has been lost" for about a dozen times in a row on both modes.
Of course, this could be something on my end, but it's worth noting I've tested this with different NAT settings--Strict, Moderate and Open--to get the same results.
The matches I have played online have varied. Of course, you're at the mercy of the other player's connection, so you want to pick green-bar matches. The online matches I've actually been able to play were pretty fun, and I have to say this is a great feature that's exhilarating and enjoyable.
Being able to play a fully-fledged arcade game online with a near-endless level of opponents is great, and I personally feel this is the future of fighting games.
But again, this is nothing new. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 had online bouts. I was actually able to play more TTT2 online matches than Tekken 7 matches.
The Tournament Mode is also interesting and allows you to create your own mini Iron Fist tournaments where players from around the globe can compete. I like this feature a lot and think it's quite interesting.
All in all, I like the online mode even if I haven't always had luck actually connecting to other players. When you do get a match, the combat is very enthralling and keeps you on your toes. It's just like playing in the arcades where every punch matters and you tense up when you make mistakes.
Another big area of focus is player customization.
All of the Tekken games since Tekken 5 have allowed players to customize their fighters with wacky add-ons from new outfits to hilarious props like giant tuna fish.
Tekken 7 has a massive--and I mean massive--assortment of unique customization options. Players earn Fight Money with every match to spend on this compendium of goodies, creating a sense of progression.
I particularly like this addition, but I'd much prefer actual game-changing content like new modes and characters over cosmetic add-ons.
Still, though, it's quite satisfying making that perfect custom outfit for your character.
Wrap-Up: King of Iron Fist
At its core, Tekken 7 represents one of the best games in the Tekken series.
While the game is absolutely lacking in content, it delivers electrifying and explosive fighting action the franchise is known for. Tekken 7 redefines our expectations from a Tekken game when it comes to arcade-style combat, but drops the Tekken ball with its content.
Despite all of its shortcomings and missing features, Tekken 7 is a must-have for any Tekken fan. I am disappointed that Bandai Namco carved up key features from the game to monetize later as DLC, but the studio has taken great care to ensure Tekken 7 evolves the unsurpassed fighting pedigree that the series is known for.
Tekken 7 also has a few little touches that go a long way for older fans. The game has a gallery mode that contains every single cinematic scene from past Tekken games, as well as a jukebox with music likewise from every other game in the series.
If that wasn't enough, gamers can also unlock key Tekken artwork from past games, offering a nice authentic homage to the age-old fighter.
Tekken 7 isn't perfect, and it's missing lots of things, but it delivers where it counts: in the back-breaking, wall-smashing, lightning-fast martial arts chaos that defines the Tekken series.
+ Fighting action is fast-paced, chaotic, and extremely satisfying
+ Fighters are all optimized and balanced
+ New fighters like Claudio, Lucky Chloe, Shaheen and Kazumi are quite fun
+ Online modes create authentic arcade experience
+ Range of new moves and combos
+ Practice mode allows players to become Tekken masters
+ Turbo and Double Damage modes are extremely fun
- Missing key modes and content like Survival, Time Attack, and Team Battle
- Carves out extra modes like Tekken Ball and holds them hostage with paid season pass
- Arcade Battle is almost pointless
- Story Mode is very lackluster and unsatisfying
- Online mode has frequent disconnections
- Loading screens are a bit too long
- No customization for certain modes
- VR mode is a waste
- Certain characters like Akuma and Kazumi are overpowered
Tekken 7 full character roster:
* denotes new character
Eliza (Pre-order only)
|Content & Modes||75%|
The Bottom Line: Tekken 7 is one of the best fighting games ever made, and evolves the strong pedigree of the franchise. But it's marred by sparse content and modes.
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