"Tekken" is now up to its sixth sequel. That's right, it's sixth. The series in general has been one of the universally adored fighting franchises in recent history, moving 33 million units across multiple platform generations according to publisher Namco Bandai. At a recent Namco Bandai Editor's day event in San Francisco, we had a chance to go hands on with the new game to bring you our impressions of "Tekken 6".
The goal of the development team for "Tekken 6" is simple, yet grandiose at the same time. The mission: Make "Tekken 6" the greatest "Tekken" ever. Staring at the character select screen, you start getting the immediate feeling they're serious in that credo. A whopping 40 characters are available in the new Tekken, with 6 of them bringing fresh faces to the series. As exciting as that news is, our demo only allowed us to use 4 of them, instantly dashing our hopes of revisiting all of our favorite characters in one sitting.
The four characters included in our demo build are a mix of old school and new: Zelfina and Bob (new school) are paired with nefarious series badboy Kazuya and his son Jin (old school). Oddly enough, the best way to describe either of the new characters for us was by comparing them to characters from other fighting games, some published by Namco and some surprisingly not.
Zelfina is a sultry new female addition to the roster, a gal whose fighting style is best described as the female Voldo of the "Soulcalibur" series, another Namco Bandai game. Her fighting style is very tricky, (think deceptive) without wielding the huge claw like blades Voldo is known to carry from game to game. Zelfina's moves come at you from odd angles which makes playing against her a slightly confusing affair, a seeming advantage for players eager to bemuse their opponents with her awkward attacks.
The heavy yet bouncy Bob is more easily compared to another fighting great: Rufus of "Street Fighter IV" fame. Bob moves quick for a heavy looking guy. According to representatives for the game on hand at the event, Bob's a tough fighter that doesn't let his size discourage him from competition. To us, his moves are way less confusing than Zelfina's, but despite the immediate comparison to Rufus, he feels more like a Paul Phoenix - agile yet powerful, despite his large waistline.
It's easy to see "Tekken 6" living up to being 'the best the franchise has to offer' after our hands on time. Kazuya and Jin both feel familiar and true to their previous "Tekken 5" versions. Visually, we're impressed as the characters move at a rock-solid 60 frames a second in gorgeous fully animated 3D backdrops. One set took place in what resembled a destroyed highway tunnel where explosions bounced cars around in the distance behind the two battling contestants. A trailer they showed at the event showed that players can also knock opponents into certain sections of the ground enough times to shatter it, sending both opponents falling into a second stage beneath the arena mid-fight, but we weren't able to do so during our demo time.
Representatives of Namco Bandai said there will be features included in "Tekken 6" that are on par with prior games of the franchise, but they're not talking about any of it until E3 2009 in June. That means if you want to know about adventure mode or "Tekken" bowling (maybe even a fantasy cooking mini-game starring "Tekken" characters - I kid) you'll have to wait. Still, our impressions of the game so far are solid based on the information they've shared, and online multiplayer is confirmed so far. The biggest surprise had to be the PSP version that will ship close to the console release, but aside from those announcements the Japanese publisher is tight-lipped.
They did share that there won't be any Star Wars characters appearing in "Tekken 6", so that's a considered a plus. Look for more news regarding modes and mayhem in "Tekken 6", this June.