Also On: Xbox 360
Publisher: Namco Bandai
I’ll start off this review by stating that I find Tekken Tag Tournament 2 to be a far better experience than Tekken 6 ever managed to provide. A lot of that is due to the fact that the online experience isn’t busted right out of the gate. In fact TTT2’s online mode is damn near impressive in how well it works, and gives enough search options to make that experience as smooth as it can be, and serves as a godsend for people like me that don’t have the luxury of playing locally with other fighting game fans.
But that’s not where the superior experience ends. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 also has a whole host of other modes to check out, tucked away in their offline menus. Ghost Battle constantly pulls data from the online mode and gives you character combinations (along with their wacky outfits) to play against, allowing you to rank up your offline characters. Ghost Mode also provides the primary way of unlocking new endings, outfits, and cash that can be spent to purchase more customizable goods.
Survival mode and Time Attack are fairly self-explanatory additions, and are generally expected in fighting games at this point, but at least Namco didn’t skimp on that feature here. One big addition comes from the new Training feature, which has a small story attached to it in which you take on the role of a robot fighter dubbed Combot, and participate in a series of events meant to teach you the basic mechanics of Tekken Tag Tournament 2. It’s a really great way of introducing players to the way that the Tag system works here, and is something that other fighting games could certainly take note of.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 also features one of the most expansive rosters in fighting game history. If you have a favorite Tekken character culled from the numerous entries in the long running series, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find them here. Because of that I find it difficult to say whether or not the entire roster is particularly balanced or not, but it’s certainly fun to run through the roster set and see who you want to main. There are also some interesting Tag moves available if you pick two compatible characters, which add a nice little layer to the whole Tag mechanic.
Finally, the customization in the game is pretty great, and also a lot of fun to toy around with. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 doesn’t take any one particular element all that seriously, from its humorous story bits to its ridiculous outfit options, but I sort of appreciate the break in serious drama that’s generally contained in the main storyline for the numbered games. Being about to outfit characters with stuff like angel wings, samurai tops, shotguns, and other off the wall accessories makes for a pretty unique look when you opt to take that character online. And there’s a slew of content to unlock on this side of things, which gives added incentive to continue playing online and off, even if you’re not a particularly competitive player.
From a controls standpoint the game feels like what you’d expect from a typical Tekken experience. The Tag mechanic aside, there’s still a pretty big focus here on small combo strings, knockbacks, or the more impressive 10-combo strings reserved for veteran players. The difficulty when playing against the CPU isn’t that extreme, on normal difficulty, and thankfully TTT2 doesn’t feature a cheap boss to end the experience with.
The Tag mechanics are certainly well implemented here. Instead of just swapping your second character in and out, you can perform a handful of specific attacks and moves when making the switch. There are specific throws that can be performed, with the added benefit of permanently whittling away your opponent’s health, causing it be un-rechargeable. Other moves, like Tag Assault, require a bit more timing to pull off, but can lead to some really devastating combinations.
Overall I feel like Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is a fairly accessible experience for new players, or those that haven’t picked up a Tekken game in years. The training mode gives you enough knowledge to get started, and the offline modes aren’t so hard that they ever become frustrating for newbies. Online will still kick your ass though, you can clearly tell that the online community might be expansive, but is filled to the brim with talented Tekken vets that won’t hesitate to school you in performance. But the online portion of the game works so well that you’ll continually jump in for more punishment, and hopefully pick up a thing or two along the way.