The Five: Tekken 6
The Skinny: To aficionados like me, a new installment of the Tekken franchise is an event. It's your average gamer's best chance to master arcane martial disciplines and look good while kicking enormous amounts of ass. Namco is making rounds with Tekken 6, and I got a chance to reacquaint myself with the King of the Iron Fist tournament. Keep scrolling to learn about the new wrinkles in the latest version of Tekken.
1. Time was, the only place you'd be able to play a Tekken game was on one of Sony's PlayStation platforms. That all changes this fall, as the series makes its debut on the Xbox 360. Both the PlayStation 3 and the 360 will pump out high-definition 1080p visuals, placing the game in rarified company. The enhanced visuals make for excellent eye candy, highlighting Tekken's always-great character design and background details.
2. It may look great, but is numero seis going to bring the same old, same old when it comes to fighting styles? I can happily say no. Playing with Lei Wulong and Paul Phoenix, two of my favorite go-to characters, revealed significant changes to their move sets. Lei's drunken-animal styles harbored a bit more power, and Paul's new strikes seemed ready-made to fit into quicker and longer combo chains. Assuming that every character gets the same kind of makeover, there should be a nice mix of new attacks and old favorites.
3. Tekken 6 offers up the most characters ever in series history -- a whopping 40 fighters. That includes six new characters, among them Swedish brawler Lars Alexandersson, portly kick-and-puncher Bob, and Alisa Bosconovitch, robotic test subject of crippled scientist Dr. Bosconovitch. An insane level of customization, just as in Namco's Soulcalibur series, ensures your Lili Rocheforts or Marshall Laws won't look exactly the same online.
4. In the all-new Scenario Campaign, you'll battle your way, single-player or co-op, through wave after wave of Mishima Corporation soldiers for multiple levels. It resembles the Tekken Force mode from previous games, but happens in fully 3-D environments. If you're playing solo, other tournament fighters will show up as artificial-intelligence partners -- so you won't be facing the robots and soldiers on your own.
5. The PSP version comes out at the same time as its big brothers on the consoles, and will have its own unique levels. It will also include customization items not in other versions. It's not clear if Scenario Mode will be an option on the Sony handheld. The Ghost feature, returning from Tekken: Dark Resurrection, lets you upload your avatar and fighting style to the Web -- so that people can fight "you" even if you're not there.
The Crispy Forecast: Bright as the aura surrounding an unblockable move. Tekken 6 feels as good as it ever has. What remains to be seen is whether the dev team can strike the balance of franchise evolution: offering enough new stuff to seem fresh, while maintaining the comfortable hallmarks of the series' 14-year run.
This preview is based on a hands-on demo of the game at a publisher event.