At a recent press event we were given the opportunity to spend an hour or so frantically bashing buttons as we attempted to work our way through Tekken Tag Tournament 2’s arcade mode. The build of the game that we were playing featured dozens of recognizable characters, including longtime roster members King, Law, Paul Phoenix, and Jin Kazama.
From what we saw there were no major innovations or radical new take on the genre, but that didn’t stop it from being an awful lot of fun. The Arcade mode consists of about seven fights in which you face off against a number of teams of two. Completely defeating one member, rather than defeating both members of of the team, ends the fight.
Tagging between players is performed with a simple tap of the right bumper, or R1 on the PS3 controller. The player that is out of the fight then gets the opportunity to recover some health. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the actual tag maneuver is actually quite slow, unlike other tag-based fighting games Dead or Alive and Marvel vs. Capcom. This dramatically adds to the tension, as, if you wait too long to tag out, you’ll likely get caught by a stray blow and lose the fight.
If you’re feeling particularly brave then you can also choose to take on the challenge as a single character. Fortunately, for the sake of balancing the fights, this isn’t as impossible as it first may sound. Your solo character generally is capable of dealing out more damage and is more resistant to impact, making a solo play through a perfectly achievable challenge.
As you would expect forming a tag team has significant benefits over playing solo – for a start the aforementioned health refilling can be very useful in getting you out of a jam – the biggest bonus is the implementation of Tag combos. You can call your partner in to break up the fight if things are getting too hard for you, and you can also perform devastating tag moves that usually involve grappling and using your characters’ signature special moves.
Without wanting to spoil things too much the arcade mode has a few neat surprises towards the end. After completing the “final fight” there are actually two more single competitors that you need to best in order to complete the game and unlock your characters’ ending. We won’t spoil who these two solo characters are, but, needless to say, their inclusion will likely bring a smile to the faces of long time Tekken fans.
The second mode we were able to try out during our time with the game was the brand new Fight Lab mode. Essentially Fight Lab mode is their version of the training mode. A lot of fighting games have been criticised in the past for featuring training modes that offer little guidance in terms of learning the game’s more intricate systems. Fight Lab looks set to avoid this criticism by breaking down the basics of combat into small bite-sized step-by-step tutorials.
In small selection of missions we were given to complete we were taught the basics of launching enemies into the air and then performing juggle combos – hitting the enemy while they were vulnerable in the air. Juggles have pretty much always been a key part of the Tekken games, and it was nice to see that the game clearly dictated how to perform this vital tactic.
Completing missions earns you points which can then be spent on buying new moves to master. It’s a fun on the training system that appears to have taken some influence from the Challenge Tower in NetherRealm Studio’s last Mortal Kombat game. However, the key difference between the two is that, from what we’ve seen, Fight Lab skips the soul crushing difficulty and features far fewer novelty challenges.
One slight criticism is that, in the event that you misinterpret the commands, or fail to get the timing exactly right, there isn’t enough feedback on why you have failed. Still, even with lack of specific feedback, it shouldn’t take long to figure out how to perform even the most complex combos.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will be available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the UK on 14th September. Stay tuned to newbreview.com for more coverage as we get closer to the game’s release date.