Bandai Namco recently held an event in their London offices where they displayed some of the games they'll be publishing in the future, and one of these games was of course Tekken 7, the latest instalment in the long running fighting game series that's scheduled to arrive in June. Without hesitation, then, we dived into the PlayStation 4 version of the game to take a look at what Bandai Namco had served up for us.
Let's talk firstly about the new characters we got to try out, one of which is Master Raven who, as you can expect, plays very similar to Raven, another Tekken character. Master Raven was agile when we played as her, and her quick movements could be used to devastating effect if you know how to use her (which we didn't particularly in our short time). Her sword also proves useful at times with particular attacks.
Next up was Shaheen, and this was probably the least exciting of the new characters we tested out. His fighting style didn't particularly offer a lot of flair, but nevertheless he proved powerful, and his audio lines seem to indicate he's quite stoic and not the biggest fan of violence, which offers a nice contrast to the sometimes larger-than-life Tekken personalities. Also, there's a nice little detail in that if Shaheen takes enough damage to the head, his headgear falls off and stays on the ground for the remainder of the fight.
We also played as the big, hulking figure of Gigas, which offered a totally different style of play. This character is all about power, as you can tell by his size alone, and although the attacks are much slower and can be telegraphed more easily than most, if you use him right you can definitely wreak havoc. Gigas is also good for pressure, overwhelming players if you can pin them against the wall, for example (not unlike the Jack variants).
The last new character we played was, of course, Akuma, the headline. What we loved about Akuma is that the little traits from Street Fighter carry over into Tekken here, whether they be the attacks or the little flairs when he punches - his Street Fighter history is clear, but he is also merged with Tekken 7's art style, so never looks out of place. He's also very powerful in terms of combat style, and can use many of the classic moves like Hadoken that Street Fighter fans have come to know and love.
Loading times throughout the experience, however, were pretty lengthy, and haven't seemed to improve much since we last saw the game. Each loading screen look roughly 30 seconds to a minute to get going, and during said loading screen the frame rate dropped and it became a bit jittery. It's not a huge issue at the end of the day, but it was still very noticeable, and could easily get frustrating if it remains in the final product. Of course, this sort of thing tends to be ironed out and optimised towards the end of development.
Fans of the series will know that there are new gameplay features such as Rage Art and Rage Drive, and the former can really be successful when you're about to lose a fight. When you glow red, during low health, you can activate Rage Art to unleash a devastating effect on the enemy, however, this can sometimes be risky as it can be dodged and blocked, so timing is still key - it's no instant gateway to victory, but it does give players a fighting chance.
Rage Drive is an alternative, if you fancy making a series of attacks more powerful rather than unleashing the one big one via Rage Art. In this you use your rage to turn your character blue, and then your attack(s) do more damage, so there's plenty of options for the fighter who often finds themselves on the receiving end of a beating.
Visually, though, is where the game impresses the most. Since the last game in the series, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (even further back to 2007 if you want to look at Tekken 6 instead), games have developed a lot in terms of visuals, and this is the first Tekken on this generation of consoles. As a result, it looks as if a lot of polish and care has gone into Tekken 7, and while this is certainly evident in the characters, it is even more evident in terms of environments. One arena, for example, was surrounded by tree branches, and the level of detail was great. The environments and arenas in Tekken have always been bombastic, and now Bandai Namco have taken the opportunity to up the ante.
Performance-wise, aside from the loading times, it mostly ran fine, but there were some clipping issues in regards to some of the characters, especially when it came to the outfits of the fighters. Shaheen's headgear, for example, clipped through his shoulders sometimes, and through the snow when on the ground.
All in all though there's plenty to be happy about here, and Bandai Namco are clearly feeling good about the progress they're making, considering they showed over 20 characters and a whole heap of arenas at the event, all of which impressed. We're looking forward to seeing what else gets included come June, as this promises to be a rather massive game come release.