Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ReviewKurt Horsting
The long anticipated sequel to the original Tekken Tag Tournament has finally come about. Now the 10th game of the Tekken series is bringing the biggest cast and biggest system that Namco could make. Every character from every game in the series has made a return, making the cast of TTT2 the largest in a 3D fighter to date. Everything you wanted in a Tekken game is here. The King of the Iron Fist is back, bigger and better than ever.
Like every Tekken since the first, your goal is to beat the crap out of your opponents with your super kung fu, Robot arms, Kangaroo legs, or whatever it takes to get the win. But now you play as two characters at the same time. This might not sound like that drastic of a change, but playing with two characters changes a lot about the pace of the game and makes the experience as a whole feel a lot smarter. You can't just get gimmicked out by a huge combo into a set-up you have never seen before and get bodied for free. Because you have another character, you get enough breathing room to adapt. Getting your next character in isn't free. You can bait people into tagging early and punish them for tagging when it isn't safe. The combo system is pretty much the same except now you can tag in characters from launchers and certain throws, and bring in a character to attack after a bind. It sounds complicated, but it pretty much means you can do flashier combos.
As great a game as this is, I can easily see how overwhelming a cast of over 50 fighters with 70+ moves each can be. In an effort to help new players get up to speed with the absolute basics, there is a hilariously entertaining Fight Lab mode. In Fight Lab, you gain control of Combot, an experimental fighting robot made by Violet. Something goes wrong and Violet has to teach Combot how to fight again. This tutorial does everything that it needs to do. It grows your understanding of the game to allow you to advance as a player.
It does this by simplifying the control scheme to give you an understanding of the rhythm of the combo system and allows a novice to do flashy combos right out of the gate, empowering the player. After that is taken away, the game slowly introduces new ideas as it fills in your understanding of how of the game plays while still being entertaining. Everything from basic movement and hit ranges, to much more advanced ideas like the bind system and how to tag. It's a blast for both veterans and new players alike, and it is something that shouldn't be skipped when you get the game no matter how much you think you know.
The coolest part about this is by doing well in the trials you unlock additional moves for Combot which are all moves stolen by other members of the cast. By getting a better score in at the stage bosses, you unlock better moves. By choosing your moves, it allows you gain familiarity with what some of the cast does and what to look for in moves. As you unlock moves for your Combot, you can get some really broken combinations. Combot is supposed to be banned in tournaments so use him against your friends at your own risk.
After the tutorial, the next best step is to go to online mode and test your new skills against the whole internet. Some of you may still have nightmares from T6's terrible online. Fear not children, for the great Harada-san has blessed and polished the online for TTT2 flawless gem and it has the best net code for a fighting game that I have played. Almost all the connections where lagless. Even when the connection was chugging, my inputs weren't delayed at all. It would just go slow-mo for a few seconds then be normal for the rest of the game. Now, you don't have any control of who you fight in ranked mode, but you can invite your friends (or that one guy who bodied you for free) to a player match. The lobbies for player matches can hold up to 8 players, has an in-game chat and allows you to spectate when while you wait to get back on.
Now, for those making their first steps into the online, you're probably going to get trolled hard by gimmicks straight from the start. I'm talking about 10 strings, people spamming high crushing launching lows (Bryan's D/F+3 or Law's D/B+4) unblockables, item moves, and a bunch of nonsense that will probably piss you off. I'll just keep it short by saying that crap is easy to beat when you know what's going on and there is good reason you never see anyone do it at a high level. It may take a while to learn how to beat it, but doing that stuff is very flawed and can be easily beaten by good fundamentals. There are other modes outside of multiplayer like survival, arcade and time attack, but they aren't very interesting and don't deviate from how the main game is played. The training mode is excellent, and lets you hone your moves but you have to do all the work to learn what to do.
My biggest complaint with the Tekken in general is that the movement system is beginning to show its age and is just a sticky and unintuitive mess. It's alienating to anyone who doesn't play Tekken seriously. There is no guard button; Namco had to make a system that incorporated a hold back to block system and they haven't changed the core movement system from Tekken 3. There are a lot of small problems like not being able to go backwards quickly unless you crouch cancel a backdash (otherwise known as korean backdashing) or how you can only sidestep one way out of crouching. Instead of me worrying about my spacing half of the time I'm just struggling to move where I want to! I have always played fighters, but this is just obnoxious. If Tekken wants to get mass appeal outside of their target audience, they really need to work on making the movement system more approachable. The combo system is perfect, how team synergy works is amazing, the character balance is great, just let me move where I want to without making it a chore! Even though I have problems with learning the movement system, I am getting used to it and it does work in its own crazy way.
There really isn't a fighter with as much polish and love put into it as Tekken Tag 2. It might be hard to get into but it's worth the work. The movement system is obtuse if you want to play at the high level, but if you just want to hit someone in the face there isn't anything in the market that delivers like Tekken. The King of the Iron Fist has returned triumphantly. If you're a fan of fighting games or of the Tekken series, you cannot pass this game up. If you have no idea how to play fighters, rent this or play with a friend first before you decide to put up your 60 bucks. The learning curve is really steep and although fight lab does help, there is still a lot of work on the player's part to learn the game.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.