General game information
Game name: Tekken 7
Release date: June 1, 2017
Price: US$ 49.99
Available on: Steam
Genre: Fighting game
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Tekken 7 is the latest entry in a fighting game franchise that is known for its refined combat and easy to learn yet difficult to master mechanics. Players will have access to a relatively lengthy story mode, as well as an arcade mode, a host of versus multiplayer options, and an incredibly engaging Treasure mode which offers an unending stream of competitors to defeat, with the tantalizing temptation of ingame cosmetic unlocks always drawing us in for one more match.
Characters and story
Tekken 7‘s story mode continues the saga of the Mishima family, but it also introduces a new non playable character to the mix, in the form of a journalist who investigates the ancient clan after the events of the previous game affect his family negatively. This reporter will act as the narrator, advancing the game’s plot through beautiful hand drawn cutscenes that would have fit perfectly in a visual novel.
Newcomers to the franchise will probably feel a bit lost, as Tekken 7 is a direct continuation to its predecessor, relying on key events that happened in past entries in order to make some sense of its overarching plot. The reporter acts as a way of delivering information that we should already know without making it look as unnecessary exposition, but even with that handy narrative help, I feel that players who weren’t able to check out earlier Tekken titles will need to read a wiki if they intend to understand the characters’ motivations. A number of small side stories will also be unlocked as we progress through the storyline, giving us a look at the driving forces between secondary characters that make small cameos in the main story mode.
Aside from the 2D hand drawn, visual novel-like cutscenes, we’ll also be treated to 3D action sequences showcasing the power of Epic‘s Unreal Engine 4 technology, as well as scenes from earlier titles. Sadly, the developers chose to use pre-rendered video footage instead of ingame cutscenes, so there’s a noticeable drop in quality if we are playing at high resolutions.
While I doubt that anyone expects to find Oscar quality writing in a fighting game, I’m happy to report that Tekken 7‘s story mode features a number of genuinely moving moments, and that the writers have managed to humanize some of the characters to an extent that I would have deemed impossible just a few years ago.
Fighting game fans who prefer to play on PC have been blessed with a multitude of titles lately, thanks to the efforts of Arc System Works, SNK and Capcom, among other talented developers. This means that competition is at an all time high, and only quality releases will have a chance to cement themselves in gamers’ hearts as true classics.
Thankfully, the team at Bandai Namco Studios has done an incredible job with Tekken 7, updating and polishing their marquee franchise’s already excellent gameplay mechanics to perfection. As expected from a fighting game, we’ll punch, kick and sidestep our way through combat encounters, chaining combos, avoiding our foes’ attacks and finding ways to exploit their weaknesses. Sending our enemies flying and punishing them with combo while they are in the air will massively increase the amount of damage dealt, and new mechanics have been introduced to build up on Tekken 6‘s Rage system.
As fans of the series who played Tekken 6 or Tekken Tag Tournament may know, once a fighter’s health bar drops below a certain percentage, that character becomes Enraged, gaining a boost to their attack power. Tekken 7 further enhances this system with two new mechanics, Rage Arts and Rage Drives, with the former acting as powerful finishing moves that can quickly turn the tide of the battle (and once triggered will immediately deplete our fighter’s Rage meter, even if it didn’t hit its intended target) and the latter acting as even more powerful attack boosters, letting us connect stronger combos that hit harder than normal attacks. Not all characters have access to Rage Drives (so far, Eliza and Akuma can’t perform a Rage Drive) but all of them can use Rage Arts to gain the upper hand in battles that were going the wrong way.
Aside from the Rage system, everything else is mostly unchanged from earlier Tekken titles, up to the point where a series veteran could pick up the controller and effortlessly chain combos learned from previous titles. As expected from a new release, a number of tweaks have been applied in order to balance gameplay and keep veterans on their toes, but returning players shouldn’t have any problems catching up. Newcomers will definitely need to spend some time in the game’s practice mode, however, as there are no tutorial modes and Tekken is not a particularly good game for those who believe in the art of button mashing.
Once we feel that we are comfortable with Tekken 7‘s combat system we can try our luck with the game’s multiplayer suite, which offers Ranked and Player matches, as well as Tournaments that will generously reward the winner with costume parts and fight money. Thankfully, the netcode is some of the best I’ve experienced in a fighting game, and finding online opponents is easy and painless, proving that not all fighting game launches must be trainwrecks.
If we don’t wish to engage in player versus player activities, we may take the game’s various AI modes for a spin, battling our way up the skill chain and facing increasingly powerful AI fighters in the classic Arcade mode, or competing in the addictive Treasure Battle campaign for a shot at big Fight Money rewards. While I felt that the punishing difficulty of later Arcade encounters was perfect for online warmups, Treasure Battle conquered my heart with its simplicity and generosity. The basic setup sees players picking a fighter and battling their way through a number of AI opponents who will bestow offerings of costume pieces and Fight Money upon us once they are defeated. If we vanquish enough opponents, more powerful warriors step up to the challenge, offering even more attractive rewards, as well as the chance to be promoted to a higher skill tier. Losing resets the amount of Fight Money that we can earn, and we may also get demoted to lower tiers if we can’t get out of a losing streak.
Fight Money earned from Treasure Battles, Arcade Mode and online fights can be used to purchase cinematics from previous games, costume pieces and ornaments for our online profile. As we said previusly, the game is incredibly generous, showering us with Fight Money if we do well in the Treasure Battle mode. Items obtained with ingame currency can be used to create our own customized version of the game’s 36 fighters roster, and I believe that creative players will have a field day with the range of available options.
Graphics, sound and performance
Tekken 7 uses Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 to power its impressive fight scenes, and the developers did a great job with the tech on PC. Particles spark and fly with each hit, the lighting system is realistic (and quite impressive in some sections that feature weather effects) and the game even features cloth physics that help convey the power of the characters’ gorgeously animated moves. As expected from a fighting game, Tekken 7 targets a 60 frames per second refresh rate, and some serious optimization work must have gone underway while the title was in development, since even lower end machines can keep up the pace provided we disable some of the more intensive graphical effects. PC owners with power to spare can enjoy the game in 4K (screenshot gallery here), but sadly there is no official 21:9 support (a strange choice in today’s gaming landscape).
Moving on to the audio front, we’ll find the same quality experience as the one found in previous Tekken titles. The soundtrack features a number of instant classics, and the hit effects are simply excellent. Character voices are mostly good, but the voice actor for the reporter/narrator character in the story mode didn’t feel up to par for me, thanks to his stilted delivery which made him sound as if he was always bored.
Every fighter speaks in their native language, an interesting approach that works well for the most part and drives home the variety of the game’s strong roster of playable characters.
I can confidently say that Tekken 7 is the best fighting game available on PC right now. Bandai Namco Studios‘ latest release is fun to play, incredibly addictive and full of engaging content.
9.5/10 – Excellent.