“Whenever you’re reporting, there’s always something you can’t say or write, but the questions, you always want to get as close to that line as possible. You want to ask the tough questions.” – Michael Hastings
A few years ago, in 2011, a Belgian photographer was granted access, by one of Japan’s Yakuza family to enter their lives and follow them around. The photographer, acting as a reporter, explained his intentions to the head of the family. For over two years, he took pictures and exposed the underworld. Questions were asked, and at the same time, the photos revealed answers some would have never had the guts to ask. The tough questions can put your life on the line, but the truth might save millions. How is this all connected to Tekken 7?
Tekken 7, now running on the Unreal Engine 4, is the latest installment of the series – one holding on its shoulders titles of best fighting game. Although I don’t share the same opinion as fans of the series, I must admit that in many ways, Tekken 7 has captured my admiration and attention. The game looks good, feels flawless, and for some reason I didn’t quite understand at first, features one of my all-time favorite Street Fighter character, Akuma – too bad it wasn’t Ryu.
Normally, the story/campaign mode in fighting games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom and Killer Instinct, for example, don’t take much place; they aren’t as important to say the least. However, Tekken’s backstory gives the character meaning and purpose. Who are enemies? How come this guy’s father is also in the game? There are many questions and the campaign explains most of them.
Going back to Michael Hastings’ quote and my short story about the Belgian photographer, both share the same element with Tekken 7, the element of reporting. In this 7th core title of the franchise, the story is told to you by a reporter working on an important piece involving Mishima Zaibatsu and G Corporation – What’s up with their involvement and relationship following the events of Tekken 6? As our reporter gets closer to the truth, things become a lot more rough and dangerous; the main characters involved in this plot are Heihachi Mishima, Jin Kazama, Claudio Serafino, Kazuya Mishima, Akuma, and a few more. It was interesting to see how Bandai Namco was able to incorporate Akuma directly into the storyline without making it too cheesy – well it was, but in a good way.
Tekken 7, as aforementioned above, now runs on the Unreal Engine 4, which is a major step for Japanese developers. Playing Tekken 7 feels very different from past titles. The game is smoother; movements and attacks have a more realistic feel to them. The command input remains on point, which is crucial for a game of this caliber. Overall, there are two major things I need to say about the visuals in Tekken 7.
First off, the layering. Stages have been built on layers. When moving around, the layers follow through, giving you the illusion that you are moving in a confined space. However, in some of the stages, the layering breaks off, thus hindering the smoothness and realism created by the backdrop. For example, in the stage called Artic Snowfall, there is a tower located at the far end of the level that, when moving around, appears to follow the angles with misdirection. The issue doesn’t affect the gameplay, and won’t even be spotted by most players, but for someone who enjoys admiring level designs, like myself, it can be bothersome.
Secondly, transitions. Unlike my discontent for the layering, transitions in Tekken 7 are impeccable – I really can’t say anything bad about them. Recently, I stated in my Injustice 2 review that transitions in between fights and CGI caught you off guard – that is how good they were. Some fighting games tend to apply that in the middle of the fight. Most of the time, unfortunately, the application was wrongfully adapted, which led to hindering the gameplay. Tekken 7 decided to go with a similar in fight application of CGI – when you deal some sort of sick move or combo finisher, you get this action-packed sequence, short and sweet, which later reverts back to gameplay as smoothly as it was introduced.
Aside for those good and bad elements that caught my eyes, the game looks fantastic. The character design and motion feel natural to some extent. The care of detail put into making every fighter feel unique is impressive. At the end of the day, all that hard work keeps Tekken 7 on the map as one of the leading games from one of the best fighting game franchises ever established. Tekken 7 remains a competitive and serious title, set up with a strong online community, and naturally a leaderboard, as well as a dedicated offline community of players. Everything a fighting games need to strive and lead, Tekken 7 has.
The only things I would take away from the game, and that is my personal opinion on the matter, are the speed and momentum of the game. For example, as a casual fighting game player, it is very difficult for me to recover from a barrage of juggling attacks in which I am completely defenseless against. Yeah, I can get up and block, but before I can even stand back up, my health bar dropped so low that it will require me to summon out skills I don’t always have. As for the speed, I am used to playing titles such as Street Fighter, KI, UMvC3 and Smash, so getting used to Tekken 7’s speed is quite a challenge for me.