Tekken 6 Review: The Lag of Iron Fist

One of the only fighting games I've ever bothered to try and deeply understand outside of Street Fighter is Tekken. There's something about the mechanics, and ability to button tap control each limb, that I love.

While Tekken 6 hit Japanese arcades in 2007 and 2008, those of us without a booming arcade scene have had to patiently wait. For those of you who only own an Xbox 360, the wait has been even longer. Was it worth it? Let's see.

Loved
Really, Really Long Campaign: If you're a fan of playing through a single-player campaign in a fighting title, then Tekken 6 is the game for you. The single player experience is a seemingly never ending trip of branching choices, boss fights and low-level thug brawls.

Roster: With more than 40 characters to choose from, Tekken 6 offers gamers a virtual bounty of play styles to learn and try to master. The single player campaign even has a mech suit you get to ride around in for a bit. All of the characters, even the silly ones, are a delight to control.

Controls and Tweaks: Liquid-smooth controls and a design mechanic that relies more on rhythmic button tapping and stick slapping are some of the reasons that Tekken is my other favorite fighter. This iteration adds a few new touches to the core mechanic, like a low-life rage mode that boosts damage and the ability to bounce an enemy off the ground and prolong your chain of attacks. What it doesn't do is mess with what already works.

Graphics: This time around you can play the game with motion blur, which does knock the resolution down to near-standard definition, but if you would rather skip the blur Tekken 6 plays at 720p, the same resolution as in arcades. Graphically, Tekken 6 is an artistically crafted game with fluid movements and an eclectic, colorful cast.

Online Options: The game offers both ranked and unranked matches online, but more interesting are its data options, which allow you to upload or download a player's replay and ghost data which can be used to tweak the play style of enemy AI offline.

Hated
Slippery Slope: In the single-player campaign there will be times when you fight in areas with drops, drops that seem to want to pull you over the edge and kill you instantly. Worse still, sometimes performing a special move will make your character, apparently unaware of their location, flip, kick or punch right into a chasm. It's incredibly frustrating.

Identity Crisis: If I'm going to spend the amount of time it takes to play through Tekken 6's lengthy campaign the least Namco could do is make sure that the character I'm playing is the one who shows up in the many and lengthy cut scenes. I'm Law, not some other guy. It's very off-putting.

Odd Save Points: The game saves at the end of every level. The problem is that later on in the games some of those levels have two, three, even four incredibly difficult bosses. If you die you can start right back up with the boss, but if you want to switch out your powerful items you need to start the entire level over again. It's a fairly annoying issue tied to what amounts to a wardrobe change.

Online Play: I only played a half dozen matches or so online, but even in those I experienced a bit of lag in my battles. Games like Tekken 6, fighters, are all about the mutiplayer, more so then even shooters. If you can't get your netcode right, don't bother releasing your game.

Loading: Tekken 6 is lousy with loading screens. You load between levels, you load between battles, you load to go online, load to get offline. You even sometimes load going from one cut scene to the next. Seriously.

I'm a big fan of the Tekken franchise, but I really don't care about the single player campaign. All I want is to be able to smack other people around online, at home or in AI-controlled arcade mode. So I can forgive almost all of the issues I pointed out. They're almost entirely about what I think is a completely needless single-player campaign. What I can't forgive, won't endure, is online lag. Let's hope Namco gets right on patching that, because until they do I won't be risking my piddly ranking

Tekken 6 was developed and published by Namco Bandai for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on Oct. 27. Retails for $59.99 USD. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through single player campaign mode and multiple matches off and online on the Xbox 360.

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