Tekken Tag Tournament
Review of Tekken Tag Tournament
Well its time once again for the Tournament of the Iron Fist competition. This time every single previous Tekken combatant (minus poor little Gon) will be participating for the coveted honor of obtaining this dubious badge of recognition. Its gonna be a free for all to be sure, but at least now with the tag feature you can bring along a little help…of course the same goes for your opponents too..!
Actually this is really more of a family reunion of sorts. There is really no storyline so to speak and nothing connecting the past Tekkens to this one. What Namco has done is basically released a separate Tekken title for the PS2 that stands on its own merit.
I dont intend to go into a tremendous amount of detail here as far as the base gameplay goes. Suffice it say, the core control feels and play exactly like the previous three Tekken titles. In fact it is quite easy to tell that the gameplay engine was lifted straight from the earlier games. If you want all of the gory details you can easily scan through one of our past reviews for any of the 3 prior Tekken titles to fill in the blanks as far as gameplay goes. What I will focus on though are the subtle differences from the past games and the obvious new addition of the tag feature.
Being that the game engine is basically an old one, use of the analog thumb pads are still not included. Characters can still juggle the crap out of others players, still put together massive strings and devastating combos and still CANT sidestep out the way…jumping or blocking is your only reliable course of defense.
Some of things that I did notice that were different though were the fact that characters seemed to respond a bit better to controller input. Now this is saying quite a lot considering the fact that all of the Tekken games have had superb control…certain moves just seemed to be easier to pull of now though. Another thing was that each character has picked up at least one new move.
The big addition is inclusion of the tag feature. While you cannot have four simultaneous players on the screen at one time, the tag feature allows you to swap players at the press of a button (well, thumbstick actually). This added a great deal of strategy to the overall great gameplay of Tekken games. Selecting two characters that play well off each other can have you pummeling the opposition in no time and also makes the gameplay more involving. With the addition of the new PS2 multi-tap, it also allows four players to engage in a Tekken battle…something never before accomplished in the series.
The game modes for the most part should not surprise anyone. There is the Arcade mode, which is primarily the clone of the Arcade game. It is here that you will be able to unlock the majority of characters and hidden game modes. Next is the Team Battle mode which allows up to eight (times 2) character battles on each side. This is a one or two-player mode. Time Attack mode enables players to post their best times for fighters and Survival mode where you can see just how long you can survive a never ending onslaught of opponents.
Non-playable modes include Theater, which allows gamers to view all of the end movies (done in real time with the PS2 game engine) for each victorious character.
Finally, there is the hidden TTT Bowling mode that gets unlocked when you win with all of the games starting characters. This little side game is actually quite good and will most certainly not disappoint those that have become used to Namcos little extras. Players can actually participate in a full bowling game and if you get high score you unlock another character.
It was nice to finally get a first listen to the PS2s new sound chip. Connected via the optical out on the back of the PS2 to our test receiver in the lab I was able to quickly judge the sound (and volume) differences between the PS and PS2. Needless to say, even with this 1st gen title the music and sound effects are outstanding.
The musical score is completely engrossing and several sounds in particular are real standouts. The thumping, hard-hitting drumbeat for WGWRTGW theme and the tune for the RGWRG scene are two of the most memorable in my mind. I also really liked the fact that you can open up all of the tunes in the Theater Mode and listen to them until your hearts content.
The sound effects, while being very familiar to Tekken fans, are crystal clear and as effective as ever. Yoshimitshus panicked wail as hes getting the crap kicked out of him, Ninas incessant laugh or the splintering resonance of breaking bones now sound better than ever!
Okay now lets talk graphics. First of all as you would suspect, TTT on the PS2 looks absolutely incredible…but of course that was to be expected. If it looked anywhere near the same as the PS1 Tekkens there would have been a near riot.
Now with that said I just want to make a few things clear here. While this is certainly a gorgeous looking title, it is still an extremely early 1st gen title and I believe it does very little to push or showcase the true power of the PS2. Yes, I was mighty impressed with the visuals that I was witnessing but in the same breath I was not completely blown away.
That said, TTT on the PS2 is definitely a NEXT generation title. The polygon models used in a single character would quite easily choke the PS1 to death…it is almost mind boggling to think that we could have come this far in a mere 5 years. Everything is in 640 x 480 (well, interlaced 240 really) hi-res and running smooth as silk at 60 frames per second. I mean we are even treated to little details like finger definition and spaced teeth in the characters mouths. Just watching the in-game engine pump out each characters end-scene in the Theater mode is enough to make one hold their breath and stare in awe.
Now for the not so good. Since this is essentially the same old Tekken game engine, it appears to suffer from some of the same graphical glitches that the previous titles had. For instance, when grabbing one of the game larger characters in an arm lock, you can still see the polygons in the characters arms melt into the back of the other characters. There are also other instances where this seaming or melting of polys occurs if you look closely. To give credit though, it appears that Namco has eliminated the majority of this type of error (it happened a LOT in the previous Tekken games), but still missed a few instances.
There is also no real character interaction with the backgrounds at all. In one level where it is snowing, the characters dont kick up any powder or disturb the environment in the least…leaving footprints or packing down the snow would have been sweet!
One pleasant surprise is the almost total absence of the dreaded jaggies. As most readers may know, early developers of PS2 software are having a rather difficult time coming to grips with the new consoles abilities. One of the most prevalent shortcomings so far has been the appearance of jagged edges on the first PS2 titles to be released, with Ridge Racer V being the best example. On TTT it seems that anti-aliasing is being used, and in addition Namco has countered the jaggies with an extremely high-polygon count and hi-res display.
Overall, while I believe that the graphics in TTT are right up there at the top when compared to any other fighter out on the market today I feel that the PS2 is capable of so much more. So, given that I think that Namco was wise to cut their teeth on the PS2 with a familiar game engine and title. I expect a much better graphical game when Tekken 4 is formally released.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Tekken Tag Tournament' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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