Review of Tekken 8 – The 3D fighting game delivers a stronger impact than ever before.
It has been nearly three decades since the original Tekken made its debut in arcades, challenging Sega’s Virtua Fighter and igniting a ten-year rivalry for dominance in the fighting game world. With its release on PlayStation, Tekken’s fluid 3D graphics, captivating characters, and user-friendly controls attracted a new generation of fans to the genre. While subsequent installments have maintained the game’s strong reputation, not all have had the same impact. However, with Tekken 7 making subtle improvements for dedicated players and Tekken 8 setting its sights on enticing newcomers, the latest iteration is a dynamic and exhilarating addition to the series.
Tekken 8 is the newest installment in a collection of fighting games created by Namco, known for their arcade games. It features a cast of flashy and extravagant characters who compete in the King of Iron Fist tournament, a series of intense one-on-one battles within a confined arena. Players can face increasingly challenging computer opponents in Arcade and Story modes, or challenge each other in local or online Versus matches.
In contrast to traditional 2D fighting games like Street Fighter, Tekken allows characters to move around each other in a circular motion instead of being confined to a 2D plane. This adds a sense of depth to the gameplay. The combat system in Tekken is also unique. It uses four buttons, each representing a different limb. The basic moves consist of two punches and two kicks, with the option to perform throws by pressing two buttons simultaneously. By chaining button presses together, players can execute more powerful combinations, known as combos. Short and long movements on the analogue stick or D-pad can also be used to add additional force to attacks. Strategies vary from quick jabs and kicks to gradually wear down the opponent’s defense, to launching them into the air and performing complex juggling maneuvers.
Each combatant possesses a unique fighting technique, incorporating authentic martial arts with almost magical strikes. The game features a far-fetched narrative revolving around the feuding Mishima clan, who can be compared to the Roys from Succession, except with a heavy emphasis on grappling and hurling opponents into volcanoes. A standout character in the game is a massive panda. This covers the essential information about the game.
Tekken 8 is a stunning combination of graphics and technology, featuring 32 characters with intricate animations and unique personalities. Among the familiar faces are Paul Phoenix, a rebellious American street fighter, and Jun Kazama, a psychic wildlife protector who makes a comeback after a long hiatus. The game also introduces three new characters: Victor, Reina, and Azucena, a jittery coffee lover. Each character, such as Nina Williams in her tasselled purple dress and Sergei Dragunov in his high-heeled biker boots, is visually impressive and brings their own flair to the game. Even the monstrous cyborg Jack-8 with his powerful extendable fists is a sight to behold.
The vast number of characters in this game may make them seem repetitive, but there is actually a great deal of diversity among them. You can choose to play as Alisa Bosconovitch, a jet-powered bishōjo android, soaring through the air, or as Zafina, who can crawl like a tarantula. The combos are visually impressive, with fiery light shows and pulsating energy waves. The sound effects are also satisfying, with bone-crunching thuds and whiplash snaps accompanying each move. The powerful moves, such as King’s Suplex and Lee Chaolan’s jaw-kicking, produce intense sound effects that resemble a chaotic fight scene from a Shaw Brothers film at maximum volume.
Two new elements, Heat and Arcade Quest, are crucial for the success of Tekken 8. The Heat system, which can be activated by pressing the right shoulder button, provides a temporary boost to your fighter, allowing them to perform powerful Smash moves and deal damage even when the opponent is blocking. However, this feature can only be used once during a fight, so timing is essential. Should you activate it early on for a strong advantage, or save it as a backup plan when you’re getting overwhelmed?
In the latter scenario, Tekken 8 utilizes a fresh approach to the Rage system from Tekken 6. This feature grants increased strength to attacks when your health drops below a specific threshold. Additionally, players can execute their character’s unique Rage Art, a powerful and visually stunning move that can devastate their opponent. One of my personal favorites is Bryan Fury’s explosive barrage of punches followed by a precise haymaker that could knock the moon out of orbit. While not as game-changing as the Blue Shell in Mario Kart, Rage instills a never-give-up mentality that can turn the tides of a match in its final moments.
Arcade Quest is a tutorial mode that combines elements of narrative and role-playing. It involves creating an avatar and exploring coin-operated arcades to battle non-player characters. These characters provide hints and encouragement while training players in important moves and combos. Successfully winning battles and completing challenges results in unlocking new items and rewards, making it an enjoyable and effective method of learning.
This is a great preview of the online multiplayer mode in Tekken 8. It allows you to enter the lively hub world known as the Fight Lounge, where you can interact with other players and challenge them to duels. The game also features a chat system and options to customize your character or play lighthearted games like Tekken Ball, which is similar to volleyball. The game’s producer, Michael Murray, has described it as a tribute to the arcade culture of the 80s and 90s, with a focus on friendly competition and camaraderie.
Having been a Tekken player since 1995, I have a deep history with the game. I remember the frustration of trying to defeat Kazuya Mishima in Tekken 2, to the point of breaking a PlayStation controller. As a young games journalist, I spent countless hours in the Official PlayStation Magazine games room, taking screenshots of Yoshimitsu’s Helicopter Stomp. So, when Tekken 8 was released, it was a delightfully indulgent experience for me. It strikes the perfect balance between being familiar and new, quirky yet intuitive. Like all great fighting games, it gives you a rush of satisfaction when you execute a series of moves flawlessly. In the past, Tekken was often dismissed by veterans of Street Fighter and Virtua Fighter as flashy and shallow, with its combos being too automated and lacking expression. However, in recent titles, Tekken has added subtle layers of complexity, and Tekken 8 is eager to showcase this to all players.
The Iron Fist tournament’s King summons you to answer once more.