It’s been a long time since I first played Tekken, yet I still remember the day like it was yesterday. My parents drove me down to our local Video store where we could rent a PlayStation console with Tekken. That weekend was a blast, it was like no other fighting game I had ever experienced before. Many moons later, well, approximately 30 years! The Tekken franchise is now up to 11 games with 8 mainline titles and 3 spinoffs, not to mention some crossovers and additional games here and there. Tekken 8 is the latest entry, courtesy of the good people at BANDAI NAMCO, ARIKA and Tekken Project.
I’ve been playing fighting games for years, but I am far from a seasoned fighter. I, like many of you reading, am a button smasher. If you press a whole heap of buttons at once, and your on-screen character moves and punches and even wins at times, this is a good thing. It’s not like I don’t try and learn the button combinations for the ultimate finishing move or even a basic combo; it’s just that I can’t remember it, or I am just not good at it, so I resort back to what works for me. However, this may now be a thing of the past with Tekken 8’s new Special Style control system. For example, when this feature is enabled on the PlayStation 5, the game takes the four face buttons in Triangle, Square, Circle and Cross and the R1 button and assigns them different uses with a move display that stays on the screen. The Triangle button is now for air attacks, Circle for low attacks, Cross for Power Crush, Square is for Specialty Move and R1 Heat System.
However, using Special Style will limit the amount of different moves and power your character will be able to perform but it sure does make a big difference to us button smashes or even newcomers to the game. This feature can be turned on and off on the fly while in the midst of a match.
Another new feature is the Heat System which enhances your offensive moves in a match by a short time of 10 seconds. Sitting below your health bar is your heat gauge represented in blue, which can be used once per round. Upon activating it, you will be able to perform more powerful moves and combos that deal more damage than the average move, which varies depending on your selected character. It gives an advantage to the attacker and encourages players to be more aggressive. In all honesty, I was a tad confused with the heat system in my playtime with Tekken 8. I get the concept of it, but I found myself ignoring it and just enjoying the game.
One of the many game modes in Tekken 8 is Arcade Quest, where you design a customisable character and verse computer-controlled opponents. The mode is quite fun, and apart from having its own story mode, it also gives you a tutorial into the game mechanics, which includes the Heat System. This is perfect for newcomers and casual players like myself. Arcade Quest is inspired by the arcade culture of Tekken and provides a simulated arcade experience for solo players.
Moving on to the visualisation of the game, Tekken 8 is powered by the next-generation Unreal 5 Engine, making it the very first major fighting game to utilise this engine and boy, it does not disappoint one single bit. The game looks absolutely fantastic, from the characters themselves to the destructible arenas. It can be a bad thing at times, as I found myself looking too much into what the background had to offer. The game features 32 characters at launch, and to my knowledge, only two of these are new to the franchise, and 30 of them are making their return, such as – Jin Kazama, King, Victor Chevalier (who always reminds me of a Jeff Goldblum and Vince McMahon smash up), and of course, Kazuya Mishima.
There will also be more added via DLC over the coming months. If you’re not keen on the way your favourite character looks, then check this out – every single one of these characters is customizable. They each come with multiple costumes, including returning costumes from previous Tekken games, along with brand-new styles for you to select from. No matter what colour, style or even extra features you decide on, the game’s detail is breathtaking.
Games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Tekken 8 have evolved into more than just fighting games. They all contain more for the player to do. Tekken 8 has a whole bunch of features that will give the player many hours of enjoyment over the time well spent with this game. Starting off with Character Episodes, each one of Tekken 8’s 32 characters has a character episode. These episodes contain five fights and a small backstory of the character you have chosen. On start-up, there are 30 character stories to play through, with two to be unlocked within the main story mode.
Tekken 8 keeps coming up with the goods over and over again, and now it’s introducing – Super Ghost Battle. Do you play the same games as your mates and find that they always seem to be better than you no matter how much you practise? A new feature called Super Ghost Battle, which hides inside the Tekken Fight Lounge, allows you to launch a Ghost Battle between yourself and a computer-based AI opponent that is based on a player’s profile located in your lobby. So you are basically playing against them without really playing against them. It’s kinda like playing Mario Kart and racing against your own time-trial ghost. Ghost Battles aren’t just about their fighting style, it also mimics their in-game behaviour and fighting style. The more they play Tekken 8, the more their Ghost Battles will increase. So if you want to finally get one over your mates, this is the mode to play.
Tekken Ball also makes its return in Tekken 8. If you are unfamiliar with this mini-game, it’s Tekken combined with volleyball and dodgeball. The aim is to hit, kick, or smash the ball so it hits your opponent and causes damage. The one that gets KO’d or has less damage when the time runs out wins. This mini-game is also featured in Tekken 3 and the Nintendo Wii U version of Tekken Tag Tournament.
The Story Mode, titled ‘The Dark Awakens’, is by far my favourite mode in Tekken 8. You can really tell the developers spent a lot of time with this. Without going too far in and shooting spoilers left and right, the story is more cinematic than ever before, featuring cutscenes that weave fights together seamlessly.
The Dark Awakens picks up approximately six months after the events of Tekken 7, which sets up an epic battle between father and son. It is based around the main protagonist of Tekken 8 – Jin Kazama. It wastes absolutely no time at all getting into the action. Right off the bat, Jin is riding his motorbike up a building, defying gravity before throwing it at a helicopter that contains Kazuya. Yeah, good luck with that one, Kazuya! But the story can’t end as quickly as the action started, and Kazuya easily survives this epic move that Jin has performed.
With my time spent in story mode, I went from multiple battles against Kazuya, which saw both Jin and Kazuya transform into Devils, satellites being shot down from the sky and over-the-top action scenes that would have any big-budget Hollywood action movie proud as punch. Along the way, story mode introduces characters old and new for Jin to fight against along with a franchise first, quick time events (QTE). These require the player to respond to an on-screen button or combination of buttons in a short period of time, this is sure to keep players on their heels. I’m a big lover of story modes in fighting games, it really just adds more to the game than just the fighting. Tekken 8’s story mode breathes new life into the franchise and has one of the best narratives I have experienced in any fighting game I have played.
Tekken 8 was a fantastic experience for me, who has no great ability in fighting games. It offered not only the straight-up fighting side of it but also a more accessible experience with the Special Style feature. It also has a variety of other game modes, which includes a very well-designed, spectacular, over-the-top and tantalising story mode with twists and turns that will leave players on the edge of their seats. It’s a wild ride. Ghost Battles through to Arcade Quests, there is a lot to do in this game which makes it well worth its price in gold.
Saying all this, though, Tekken 8 has a couple of downsides. As mentioned before, the Heat System was confusing, and I found myself not using it all that much. This could be more on myself not being competent in using it, so I wouldn’t really hold this too much against the game. The other thing I wasn’t blown away by was the game’s overall soundtrack. The cohesion between the epic fight scenes and the music was just not there. There are some parts where it is great, but my overall feeling was it needed more to match everything else that was going on, and it just didn’t deliver.
TEKKEN 8 REVIEW
Tekken 8 is worth the nine-year wait with this entry featuring epic visuals packed with a roster of franchise favourites that will have fans of the series more than satisfied. The return of Tekken Ball alongside new modes like the Arcade Quest are fun additions, but the real star of the show is the engrossing Story Mode, which may be one of the best of the series.
- Story Mode is one of the best the series has seen
- Graphics feels like it belongs in current-gen
- Special Style allows accessibility for casual players
- Decent size roster
- Heat System
- Overall soundtrack is subpar