The hardest-hitting Tekken yet.
What TTT2 Got Right
- + Tekken’s trademark fast and fluid fighting
- + Biggest and best character roster yet
- + Extensive character customisation
- + Excellent online and offline game modes
What TTT2 Got Wrong
- - Steep learning curve
- - No Tekken Force mode
- - Nothing radically different
- - Laughably bad voice-acting
Let’s get this out of the way first: Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is Namco Bandai’s love-letter to long-term Tekken fans and hardcore fighting game enthusiasts everywhere.
With a massive and expanded character roster representing the franchise’s long history, polished brawler gameplay, and a solid ranking system for both online and offline play, TTT2 may very well be the best Tekken yet, for both dedicated fans and newcomers to the series.
Tekken is a series which has seen each iteration consistently refined, improved and expanded upon with the utmost care, and TTT2 is no outlier in the quality which has characterised the main numbered entries. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is a non-canon entry into the mainstream Tekken franchise and like its spin-off predecessor from 1999, the game places its core emphasis on tag-team battles of each player’s favourite dream-team, but the great thing about TTT2 is that it carefully balances fixed-team battles and traditional Tekken affairs in that partners are fully optional.
If you want to play classic one VS one, or even maybe one VS two just to mix things up, then you have that option, whether online and offline. A plethora of the standard gameplay modes such as Versus, Ghost Battle, Survival and Time-Attack all offer the player plenty to do, and that’s just for offline play.
As the game is a non-canon entry, there is no main overarching storyline or Iron Fist Tournament 7, but the opening cinematic does establish some special form of tournament is happening. TTT2 is more of a greatest hits Tekken, bringing together all the favourite characters for one big fight club.
However, Arcade Mode contains new unique endings for nearly every single character, and though most are comedic in nature, there are a few serious storyline surprises for those who follow their favourite Tekken characters religiously.
If you get bored with the offline fighting, TTT2’s online arena will keep you playing. TTT2 has excellent netcode, making online a breeze to play with such a fast matchmaking engine. In my extensive time spent searching for opponents in both Ranked and Player matches, I experienced virtually no lag and was paired up with players with the best connection to be 100% of the time. Combined with an addictive level-up ranking system, the online matches have already proven to be a very competitive but very fun experience.
The relentless Kazuma and a young Heihachi are just two favourites to make an appearance.
Just don’t go online without having practiced for hours with your preferred characters first: most players online are veterans who will prove to frustrate you with their uncanny ability of making sure you don’t get one single hit in.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 makes it easy to figure out what kind of match you want to play with an overwhelmingly eccentric and colourful character roster -- enigmatic secret agents, Mexican wrestlers, panda bodyguards, boxing Kangaroos, otherworldly demons, female fatales -- nearly all the familiar faces of the series so far make an appearance, totaling 50-plus fighters available to the player, and more if you purchase character DLC. Whether it’s natural team-ups like the competitive Paul Phoenix and the lethal Marshall Law, or polar opposite collaborations like the super-swift Raven and slow but powerful King, TTT2 facilitates nearly every match-up Tekken fans could ever want or conjure up in their head. Namco Bandai also made the effort to voice most characters in their native language, though the English voice-actors and their battle-taunts pre-battle are some of the worst I've ever heard.
Another feature which makes Tekken stand out from other fighters is its extensive character customisation mode. TTT2 has the same customisation suite as its predecessors, and contains plenty of clothing, accessories and other items to personalise your favourite fighters with. Saving up money earned from each fight to deck out your character is highly addictive, and Namco Bandai did well in providing players the ability to add that special touch of their own personality to their fighter.
The core gameplay mechanics of TTT2 remains mostly unchanged, but it feels as refined, fun and familiar as ever. Tekken has always placed an emphasis on stringing together hard-hitting combos driven by limb position and gained momentum. Knowing when and how to execute high, medium and low attacks, as well as when and how to block them is key to success.
It's all about precise-timing and memorisation of combos, when to block and when to execute.
Each arm and leg is mapped on the four face buttons of the PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers, representing the right and left limbs, and there are a range of throws and counters available to the player depending on what limb is used, as well as quick rolls, dodges and the ability to sidestep. The iconic movesets and combos of each character has been left unchanged, so you don’t have to memorise them once more if you’re a seasoned Tekken player.
"Tekken has always placed an emphasis on stringing together hard-hitting combos driven by limb position and gained momentum. Knowing when and how to execute high, medium and low attacks, as well as block them is key to success."
The game’s controls are tight and responsive, allowing precise execution of the very complex, very diverse and very technical set of button and movement combinations available for each character. Juggling opponents and hitting them so swiftly and consistently that you barely give them an opportunity to strike back is an art you have to work to master in this game.
Because each character has their own unique real-world or otherwise fighting style, expect to put in some hard hours if you wish to master the entire character roster. Button-mashing or one-combo reliance only gets you so far in terms of success and enjoyment.
In addition to the basic fast and fluid gameplay formula, TTT2 places a heavy gameplay emphasis on the extra lethal fighting abilities a tag-team duo can bring to a match. The sequel expands on the tag mechanics featured in the first Tekken Tag, allowing for extended tag combos and combined moves, some of which are unique depending on the characters chosen. New techniques include combined tag throws, tag interrupts and tag assaults, the latter of which is combos that have both characters participating in the combo at the same time. These special moves serve to heighten the intensity of each battle, and can turn the tide if used correctly and effectively.
Tekken's emphasis on memorised button combos does make it one of the least accessible for casual players or newcomers to the series, and may put new players off before they can get a proper feel. However, don’t worry if you aren’t a Tekken master already or aren’t great with memorising 10-hit combos or Tag specials -- the excellent Fight Lab mode helps ease players into the sometimes overwhelmingly complex fighting system. Fight Lab is a mini-campaign and tutorial of sorts which puts you in the role of Combot, who learns combat techniques amid a training course and learns customisable moves. There’s also the usual Practice mode where you can have the command prompts on display while you’re learning to become a better fighter faster.
The Final Verdict
Despite the intimidating technical complexity involved with stringing combos or executing special moves, Tekken’s gameplay is always a satisfying experience, and TTT2 is no different in this regard. Its familiarity and lack of boldness in changing anything, however, may prove to disappoint players looking for something radically different.
But “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as they say, and for gamers looking for excellent fanservice, extensive character customisation, solid fighting gameplay and a dedicated and competitive online arena, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is one for you.
By Nathan Misa