Tekken 7 is the finest of them all.

Tekken 7 has been out in Japan arcades for some time now. Namco Bandai (whichever way round it it’s) made the decision to only just release the latest instalment onto the consoles, but was it worth the wait?

Tekken 7 has immaculate presentation. Harada and his team has created some of the best looking title screen and menus I’ve seen. The choice of music just wraps it all together in a very good looking bow. It looks like they took lots of time and effort into building a pleasant and attractive UI. The character aesthetics look absolutely stunning. The custom costumes are fun and stylish – it’s given me the option to create my version of Lili. Collecting arts in game is something I like to do and Tekken 7 has many Tekken related items to unlock. Spanning from the entire Tekken franchise history, character endings, trailers and miscellaneous artwork can be bought using in game fight money. I’ve already unlocked everything I like and there’s plenty of things left but I’m not interested in them.

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I think its fair to say that this is the best version of Tekken I’ve played. The combos are shorter than Tekken 6 and there’s a new “Rage Art” move atkin to Street Fighter 4’s Ultra. Rage Arts are only unlocked when your character has about 20% hp left but they deal incredible amounts of damage. During the start up of Rage Arts, your character absorb hits and take damage but can’t be interrupted unless you run out of health. This is a crazy comeback mechanic. You don’t have to use your “Rage status” for this, there’s also a special attack you can use which is normally part of another attack but unable to do outside of this state. I haven’t been able to incorporate this into my gameplay so I’ve stuck to “Rage Arts”. Although they are powerful, you can also just defend against it. Unlike Dead Or Alive’s “Power Blow’s”, the block stun is like a normal attack but the recovery frames are very long. So if your opponent baits it and blocks it, chances are you’ve lost. Tekken 7 feels very fluid and exciting to play. I’m also pretty chuffed that I managed to work out a couple of combos on my own and carried this into my online battles.

Now, it’s no secret that fighting games generally don’t have amazing story modes. But I appreciate what Harada was trying to achieve in his game. The story mode of Tekken 7 feels very cinematic and has been widely marketed as the concluding chapter to the Mishima story arc.

For those of you who don’t know, from the very first Tekken, Mishima Heihachi threw his own son, Mishima Kazuya, off a cliff and left him to die. So Kazuya has hated his father ever since. Jeeze man, it’s been like 20 years? Get over it! But throughout the games, they’ve been throwing each other off cliffs at the end of the game so… yeah it’s getting ridiculous. We’ve never actually known the reason for what started this until Tekken 7. Heihachi’s wife Kazumi started it all. She is from originally from another clan that infiltrated the Mishima family and (somehow) got Heihachi to fall in love with her so she can later assassinate him. Don’t ask who sent her or why she has to make him fall in love with him first – it doesn’t make sense. I mean, she would have had to live with him for years since they had Kazuya together AND Kazuya was a boy when this all happened. Anyway, she carries the devil gene and this has been passed onto Kazuya (and by extension his son, Jin Kazama). He fears this gene as he believes this is what made her go crazy and try to kill him. So knowing Kazuya has it, he tries to kill him. For all the marketing material Kazumi was in, she’s hardly in the story at all.

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Like I said before, I appreciate what Harada was going for but I really think he missed the mark in terms of execution. In the one hand, we continue from the end of Tekken 6 with the actual characters fighting each other. In the other hand, which is the main narrative of the story, we get a clueless journalist trying to piece everything together. He tries to get to the bottom of why a third world war, started by two companies, happened. We players know what happened so it didn’t make sense to jump from one scene where Nina Williams is attacking Violet Systems then to jump back to the journalist trying to find out who Mishima Kazuya is half way into the story. His face is never revealed during the story so I thought maybe he would turn out to be one of the characters in game. He’s not. And I don’t know who the hell thought an emotionless, monotone read of the script was the best way to deliver the lines. It was very, very annoying.

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My other gripe with the story is that Gouki (Akuma) from Street Fighter is shoe horned into the story. He is canonically part of the Tekken universe now. It turns out he owes Kazumi a favour because she saved his life a long time ago and so to repay his debt, he is to kill Heihachi for her. Fine… but when asked why did he wait 20 years? His reply was so that Heihachi could get stronger so he’s not just finishing off a weakling. W.T.F. So he waited for the person that saved him to be killed first and another 20 years so he can kill him without feeling like he just crushed a noob. If he was so honour bound to keep his promise after 20 years, why did he allow the person who saved him to die? Surely he should have acted before? It’s really, really dumb. His mission is to kill Heihachi but for some reason, also targets Kazuya. He also doesn’t check whether the other person is dead or not. Gouki’s actions are very flimsy. It doesn’t seem like he’s very determined to carry out his promise if he’s not going to check to be absolutely certain that the target is dead.

The story does end the Mishima arc with an “epic” battle between father and son on top of a volcano. Heihachi is thrown into the volcano at the end so I assume he dies. BUT the ending also sets up the sequel. Kazuya Vs. Jin as he wakes up at the very end for people to say “you’re the only one who can stop this war Jin!”. It’s really stupid. The side stories are basically a single fights that make little sense – for example Nina Williams is infiltrating the mob so she pretends to be the bride… except how do you do that? Won’t people look at you and go, where’s the real bride? Anyway, that’s why she’s in a wedding gown. Dumb reason. I have to say she looks really sexy in it though.

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The biggest issue Tekken 7 faces isn’t the actual content. Even if there is a boring journalist narrating the story, that’s not exactly the core of the game. Tekken 7 is first and foremost a fighting game. A game with hundreds and thousands of hours available for you to sink in testing your skills against others both online and offline. Who are we kidding, it’s 2017 we’re mostly going to be playing online socially and when it comes to serious pro levels, it will be offline. But that’s the problem. Tekken 7 launched with online issues. I wasn’t able to play a single “Player match” on the first day. I had to get into the mode in a weird way and have to accept the first match otherwise I can’t play or it will crash. The ranked mode was finding me any opponents but later in the week other players began to pop up. Looking at their stats I think they’ve faced a similar issue. Another issue is that GameDVR clips are not recording any audio during gameplay. They’ve not released additional characters yet so I might revisit it when they come out and see what’s changed.

I would recommend fighting game fans to try it and see if it’s their cup of tea. It does have a lot to offer but it’s hindered by online issues.