Tekken Hybrid: review

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  • Format: PS3
  • Unleashed: November 25th
  • Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment/Namco Bandai
  • Developer: Namco
  • Players: 1 – 2 (local)
  • Site: http://tekken.namco.com/

Everything started off suitably Japanese. We were in control of a giant demon man preparing to fight the fearsome school girl in front of us. The fact that we had horns, an exoskeleton and could shoot lasers made us very optimistic. Unfortunately our dominating looks only made us appear big and scary, as our opponent removed her head and proceeded to beat us to death with it. After this she sprouted a jetpack and two chainsaws to finish us off before she stood victorious in the centre of the screen.

This was our first taste of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue, one of the features included in the Tekken Hybrid bundle. The pack also includes the original Tekken Tag Tournament in HD flavour, and a feature length CGI movie titled Tekken Blood Vengeance.

"Chainsaw arms? Wish I'd though of that..."

Calling this taster of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 a prologue feels incredibly generous, with the word ‘demo’ being much more apt. You can choose from a roster of four fighters: Devil Jin, Devil Kazuya, Xiaoyu and Alisa. It follows the same mechanics as the first Tag Tournament, where players pick two fighters to swap between mid-battle as they attempt to pummel the teeth out of an opposing tag team. Even though you have two health bars to babysit instead of one, you lose the instant one of your characters is defeated, so you can’t play as one character and hope to switch out a dead fighter for an untouched one. You need to micro-manage your two health bars carefully to get the most out of both fighters. It makes you think tactically about when to bench your weakened warrior, but at the same time can be very frustrating when you get caught in a long combo that makes tagging out impossible.

The controls are responsive, with combos that flow more naturally than in previous Tekken games. It definitely still feels like a Tekken game though, with the button patterns to pull off specific moves and combinations feeling very familiar. We’ve always felt that the Tekken series has been one of the more accessible fighting games, with a control layout that suits seasoned button mashers as well as the more surgical pros. Tag Tournament 2 is not an exception to this and is very easy to pick up and play.

But, even though we enjoyed the taster session, that’s all it is. Since you play with two characters at a time you get through the roster of four very quickly, and even then the two devil-like characters look and play very similarly. We don’t recommend you get Tekken Hybrid if you just want to see what Tag Tournament 2 is like because the prologue feels like something that should be free on PSN.

Perfect opportunity for a cheeky crotch thump.

Receiving Tag Tournament 2 Prologue with the original Tag Tournament allows you to easily draw comparisons between the two games and see how the mechanics and controls have been improved over the series. Everything feels smoother in Tag Tournament 2, whereas a button misplaced in the original game causes your fighter to hesitate and leaves you vulnerable mid-combo.

Everything in Tag Tournament HD is as it was in the PS2 original, just with high definition graphics and improved sound. This makes it feel like a very classic Tekken experience, which is helped by a fairly plump roster of 34 characters. Oddly enough the majority of characters start off unlocked. This is good if you just want to jump in and play with mates, but a bit of a disappointment for those who like to spend their nights alone unlocking content that is slowly drip-fed. Fortunately, full trophy support is there for this crowd.

It feels exactly like we remember it and is a pleasant revisit to the game, with visuals that aren’t distractingly outdated. The huge variety of fighters means that there is a character that suits most play styles. It misses a trick with an absence of online features, which might have extended the amount of time a lone player could enjoy the game. You can only beat the arcade modes so many times until it feels like a pointless grind against a predictable opponent. The brilliant bowling mini-game makes a return though, which can easily add another hour or two to your total play time.

Tekken Blood Vengeance gets weird.

The other new component included with Tekken Hybrid is the series tie-in movie Blood Vengeance. You’d have thought that a movie based on a game about fighting would contain more violence. After an explosive opening there are about 50 minutes of two school girls chasing after some mysterious bloke like it’s a high school rom-com. It got to the stage where it was starting to remind us of the animated Barbie movies, trying to ram home a dull plot with a curious lack of punches. The last half hour is action-packed with a climactic showdown, but getting there is tedious. Tag Tournament 2’s opening sequence is much more entertaining than the entirety of Blood Vengeance. Trying to give Tekken an immersive backstory is a bit like trying to teach backgammon to a horse. The two things just don’t go together. The story might have worked better if it focussed on a King of the Iron First Tournament, you know, that thing the games are about.

Only consider getting Tekken Hybrid if you particularly fancy revisiting the original Tag Tournament on your current system or are a die hard fan of the series. And we mean really die hard. Die hard enough to have a Heihachi Mishima tattoo on your chest. The glimpse of Tag Tournament 2 is fun for a demo, but definitely not worth the asking price if it is all you want from Tekken Hybrid. Tekken Tag Tournament HD is the highlight of the bundle and best enjoyed when you have a few mates over for a night of sofa-based multiplayer gaming. Save watching Blood Vengeance for when you are drunk enough to appreciate it.

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Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

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