Tekken 4 is the latest in the worldwide known fighting series from Namco where the player has to beat all opponents to win the title of King of Iron Fist and on the way defeat the forces of evil.
When Sony’s PS2 was released, Tekken Tag Tournament was released but unlike what most people thought, that game was not the successor to Tekken 3 which had been a major hit on the PSX. Tag Tournament was only an update to Tekken 3, adding a couple of new features, but completely overshadowed by Dead or Alive 2 and couldn’t stand up to the new standards that were shown on Sony’s newest console. The game was quite a disappointment and while the Tekken series was known as top-of-the-bill for PSX, the title for best fighting game was lost.
Now, several years later, Namco wants to get that title back and the game to do the trick is Tekken 4. Let’s see what they cooked up.
There are loads of gameplay modes including the ever-present Story Mode, arcade, time attack, team battle, versus, survival, practice, training, and last but not least : Tekken Force.
Story mode has been really worked out this time and you see that a lot of development time has been taken for this. Before you start, you get a very nice description of your fighter including his reasons for participating in the tournament after which a short intro movie is shown. Also, after you’ve won the tournament, again a movie is shown and sometimes even a final bonus fight can be fought. The characters have evolved since Tekken 3 and that even shows in their aged appearance and background story.
The other modes are the same as in the previous Tekken games except for Tekken Force. Here you get to fight your way through a whole bunch of enemies, much like you used to in the old Double Dragon games. The great accomplishment of this mode is that you’re finally fighting in a real 3D environment rather than turning 2D surroundings. Unfortunately, the camera viewpoint is all but good. Often you’ll find yourself struggling to get the right angle to kick the opponent.
Graphically, Tekken has drastically changed in comparison with the previous games. No more moving bitmaps but real polygons, heigth differences, possibility to step next to your opponent, etc. Still, there are several points that seem unfinished.
If you kick an opponent that stands lower than you, a low kick is still counted as a low kick, even if you hit him in the face. The surroundings may be 3D but unlike in Virtua Fighter 4, they lack all life, much like the overall gameplay does.
Tekken 4 has improved a lot in features compared to the previous games in the series, but most of those are things that other fighting games have had for years already. Nothing innovating is added and the feeling of brutality that flowed throughout Tekken 3 has almost completely disappeared and that’s all but positive.
Overall I would say that Tekken 4 is a nice game although a bit pale. Where are the sublime graphics, the special moves that make you open your eyes in disbelief, the pounding music that makes you cry out for more and the allround feeling of violence floating around ?
Fighting games are trying to get more realistic, but where Sega clearly chose the path of realism with Virtua Fighter 4, Namco should have gone further in the brutality of the Tekken series rather than polish everything up and release a game that’s neither flesh nor fish.
This could have been so much more… I guess I’ll have to wait until a new Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat game arrives before I can again kill opponents with blood spraying all around.