Review: Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Back when arcades, mini-golf, and roller rinks existed in this town, the original Tekken Tag Tournament crashed onto the scene. I was terrible at that game when fighting against actual people, but I never hesitated to pop in 50 cents and play it. After all, what other game gave you the option to have a devil tag team with a grizzly bear against caricatures of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee? Now I had a chance to play the sequel, and I jumped at it like the nostalgic fool I was. So how does it stack up?

Like most fighting games, TTT2 is easy and fun to pick up, but hard to master. The four buttons on your controller correspond to each limb on your character, and it’s up to you to use them in order to string together a wicked combo that can KO your opponent. The game helpfully provides a long list of individual combos that stretch from 90 to 150, depending on the character. You don’t have to learn them all, but it helps if you know some of them.

The roster has expanded to about 50 characters, with more planned for release as extra downloadable content in the months to come. These characters span every real martial arts style you can think of, and some that you cannot. You want a character who knows Aikido, Capoeira, Taekwando, or MMA? Maybe you want something more fantastical, like a robot with jump jets, a demon with eye lasers, or a humanoid bear? This game has all of those and more.

If you prefer to play by yourself against AI opponents, then you might find the features a bit lacking. The game has a short, campy story about a flamboyantly-dressed CEO trying to build a fighting robot from scratch, where you can learn the basics of how to move, block, throw, and fight as “Combot.” As a bonus, the game lets you customize some of Combot’s moves for use in the regular game.  You can also play dress up with your character of choice to make them look as cool (or stupid) as you wish, using in-game money.

However, once you breeze through the story, there isn’t much else to do besides punch people. You can play through “Arcade Mode” or “Ghost Mode,” and fight increasingly harder and bizarrely-dressed opponents, unlocking movies for each character that range from silly to serious. If you feel particularly masochistic, then there’s an online mode where you can fight people over the internet. This mode is not for the easily-frustrated, as you will run into people around the world who can juggle your character in the air and eliminate half of your health before you hit the ground. However, there is an option to sit back and watch replays of online matches featuring your character of choice, so you can note what to do (or not) in your next fight.

From a technical standpoint, the graphics and sound direction seem to be a tiny bit worse than Tekken 6, the last title in the franchise – possibly to balance an expanded roster against the terrible memory storage that the Xbox 360 has. The background music is not really appealing, ranging from terrible techno to a boring Snoop Dogg (excuse me, “Snoop Lion”) track on one stage. The background stages don’t feel as epic either, though to their credit, the developers introduced breakable walls to the series that can be used for extending combos.

Final Verdict: Buy it. It may not have a lot of features attached, and the technical aspects may be scaled back from Tekken 6, but when it comes to the core gameplay, TTT2 really shines through. The gigantic roster combined with simplistic controls ensures that you are bound to find a tag team of fighters that you love, regardless of taste.