‘Tekken 7’ Review: A Fine Conclusion to Kazuya & Heihachi’s Brutal War

Game: Tekken 7
Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios

Ryu vs. Ken. Scorpion vs. Sub-Zero. Terry Bogard vs. Geese Howard. These longtime clashes have resulted in epic battles that have taken place within the many entries associated with their fighting game franchises. The King of the Iron Fist Tournament has put several beefs between its ever increasing roster into the spotlight, but one rivalry has trumped them all – Father vs. Son: Kazuya Mishima vs. Heihachi Mishima. The 7th official installment within the Tekken franchise finally settles their global spanning warfare in one of the better implementations of a story mode within fighting games. On top of all that, Tekken 7 comes fully featured with all the best elements of past entries and newer features that refine its gameplay for the better.

Anyone who played Tekken 6 should have an idea of how Tekken 7’s playable plot unfolds. But this sequel ups the ante with some new features that I hope other fighting games implement. Besides sitting through dialogue sections backed by screen art and fully voice-acted cutscenes, the actual battles themselves offer the most riveting parts of the entire mode. Climactic encounters segue perfectly into battle, which looks incredible in action. During those actual scuffles, visual and audio flashbacks pop up from past games to offer more background info on the battle at hand. In some instances, you’ll get to finish your opponent in the most satisfying way possible through the game’s climactic finishers. The main plot at hand is a blast to play through thanks to how outlandish Kazuya, Heihachi and the other involved parties’ altercations turn out. Longtime fans will finally get some closure and enjoy every minute of the final moments of the Mishima Clan’s epic hostilities.

Tekken 7

What’s a letdown though is the solo story playthroughs tied to the rest of the game’s roster. These quick battles only deliver a quick intro beforehand and a simple outro once the fight comes to a close. It would have been a lot better if these side stories offered up more playable confrontations and definitive endings. It’s decent for what it is, but those all too brief scuffles stand out as one of the game’s letdowns. Once you step out of Story Mode, Tekken 7 still manages to continually impress and entertain. The Arcade Mode playthrough is brief but mildly enjoyable, Treasure Battle is an addictive detour into custom loot collecting and the rest of the expected fighting game mode tropes are present. The roster stands out even though a few familiars are missing from the tournament festivities.

The game’s true newbies (Katarina, Claudio, Lucky and Shaheen) deliver fresh combat styles, while the game’s other unique combatants (Josie, Gigas, Kazumi, Akuma and Master Raven) arrive with newer/older moves that vets and newcomers will enjoy getting accustomed to. Tekken is one of the deeper fighters out there, but there are characters from this sequel that lend themselves well to beginners who just wanna bash buttons for the win (Katarina’s a surefire pick in that regard). But for those who really want to master their craft, you’ll be rewarded with flashy 10-hit combos and hype worthy air juggles. The Rage mechanics (Rage Mode, Rage Drive and Rage Art), plus the new cinematic camera options do a commendable job of freshening up Tekken’s well tuned gameplay. It’s pretty clear that Tekken 7 was carefully molded into one of the balanced fighters ever and definitely one of the most exciting to watch.

Tekken 7

Tekken 7 looks as amazing as it sounds. This franchise has always been known to feature a wide range of catchy battle tunes and that trend stays intact with this 7th entry. Taking the fight to the inner sanctum of a raging volcano or clashing with your foe on an ascending elevator never gets old. Thankfully, the exciting EDM soundtrack backs up those martial arts wars perfectly. What’s not as perfect is the game’s customization options. Coming from the crazy variety of character costumes seen in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 to the disappointingly simpler options of Tekken 7 is off-putting. While each character has a few trademark items that switch up their appearance, the customization options offered up all fall into the same category. Seeing the same shirts, skirts, leather jackets and other clothing sets for every fighter is an issue that hopefully gets updated with more gear in the future. At the moment, the customization options aren’t as varied as they should be for such a big entry in the series.

Bottom Line

Tekken 7

The wait was definitely worth it. Tekken 7 embodies the best parts of the series and throws in some meaningful additions. The Story Mode turns out to be one the best parts of not only this entry, but in all of fighting game history. From a mechanical standpoint, the fighting is balanced well, plays amazingly and stands out even more thanks to its livestream friendly features. The visuals shine even brighter and the soundtrack continues the legacy of Tekken’s great OST history. It’s a bit disheartening to play through the shockingly short solo character stories and encounter the lackluster character customization options, though. Even still, Tekken 7 pulls away with the win and hits a high mark for fighting games.

Score: 9.5/10

Pros:

  • The main story mode features familiar and new elements that make it extra memorable
  • Tekken’s old mechanics mix in perfectly with its newer ones
  • From a visual and audio standpoint, Tekken has never looked or sounded better

Cons:

  • The solo character stories are decent diversions, but they’re too short and simple
  • The character customization options are less creative than past iterations
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