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Tekken 8

Tekken 8 Campaign Preview - An ambitious next effort from one of the fighting genre's best

We've taken the opportunity to jump-start the Tekken 8 campaign and try out other game modes, and share our impressions.

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As soon as I got the chance to try Tekken 8 in the spring, it was clear that Katsuhiro Harada and his team were aiming for a slightly different feel this time around. The pace is faster and the system is designed to make you constantly attack to promote an aggressive play-style. Back then I only got to spend time with the multiplayer and a selection of fighters, now all fighters have been presented and I recently had the opportunity to test the more or less complete version and could thus finally get into the single player.

After all, very few fighting games have a single player even worth the name. The three big exceptions are generally Mortal Kombat, Smash Bros. and Tekken. The latter always offers a complete campaign, and even boasts the longest continuous story in the gaming world (next year the series turns 30 and the story has been evolving through all of those three decades), something that even resulted in a Guinness record.

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Usually it is about the "mildly" dysfunctional Mishima family, where Kazuya and old man Heihachi have been behind the leading conflicts. The latter has had an ability to never really die like the villains of the comic book world, but just in time for Tekken 8 he seems to be gone and the field is now open for Kazuya to take over. But it's not quite that simple, because Jun and Jin Kazama are back to try and stop him. There's also the mysterious newcomer Reina, who seems to have some kind of connection to Heihachi. Her importance to the story is almost blatantly illustrated by the fact that she is placed exactly in the middle of all the selectable characters on the top row.

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Whether Heihachi is really dead remains to be seen, but the game at least starts with an epic battle, which you will actually get to try out for yourself from December 14 (PlayStation 5) and December 21 (PC and Xbox Series S/X) when a demo is released. Here, Jin tries to stop his father Kazuya from becoming an evil demon and choosing the same path as Heihachi did. However, it wouldn't be much of a story if the game's bad-guy was defeated in the first chapter and the outcome is that Jin gets a good beating, and seems to lose some of his abilities.

The fact that the world might be ending because of a crazy demon doesn't stop the announcement of a new Tekken tournament, in which Kazuya is expected to participate. The campaign is, of course, ultimately a fighting game, so there are a lot of awkward lines that end with two people having to fight, but in the genre it's still far better than most, even if I can't comment beyond the first four chapters. One thing that strikes me is how much better the presentation is this time around, with really well made cutscenes and an unexpected amount of dialogue. Early on we also get to meet Reina, who has several moves taken from the Mishima family, which she claims is because she's seen them on the internet...

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My demo ended when things started to heat up after less than an hour of playing. What is clear is that it was very enjoyable and shows a level of ambition from one of the developers that continues to lead the market when it comes to campaigns in the fighting genre. Also, it seems like the challenge has been increased, so stopping Kazuya is no easy task. In addition, all characters have a kind of light-hearted mini-campaign, which I did not get to see, but there undoubtedly seems to be a huge amount of content for those who want to play Tekken 8 alone.

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In addition, there is also an online mode with an associated hub world and an arcade game mode called Arcade Quest where you as a virtual Tekken player (you can design your avatar yourself) will make your way through Japanese arcades to reach the major championships. It also serves as a training mode where you gradually get a grip on the different game systems. Initially, it is low difficulty, but it will of course increase, and also includes a rivalry to drive some kind of story. In this game mode you also unlock cosmetic items that you can then use for the fighters in other game modes.

Finally, Tekken Ball is back again. It's a kind of light-hearted volleyball game played one-on-one. It debuted in Tekken 3 and was also featured in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for Wii U, and now in Tekken 8. Basically, it's all about standing in the right place and delivering nice attacks on a ball to defeat your opponent. Even if it's not the deepest mode (some characters spontaneously feel much better for this mode's purpose, but I need many more hours to be able to confirm this with certainty) you'll want to play a whole evening. I managed to play a few matches and can conclude that it's definitely a nice addition that allows you to easily introduce Tekken 8 to people who normally don't understand the genre, and it definitely will bring some laughter.

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Tekken 8 is set to be released on January 26 and ends eight incredible fighting months when Street Fighter 6, Mortal Kombat 1 and Tekken 8 have been released with only a few months between them. How good this title will be in the end remains to be seen, but it's clear that every time I get to try it, my hype has increased. If the new, intense combat system delivers and the campaign lasts all the way - we have something really special to look forward to.

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