Tekken 7 Review: Family Matters

Bandai Namco
Bandai Namco /

Bandai Namco brings the end of an era in stunning fashion with Tekken 7, but does the game live up to the over two-year-long hype?

Developer: Bandai Namco
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Release Date: June 2, 2017

So something needs to be said before this review in the interest of full disclosure: this was my first time truly diving into the Tekken series. Aside from occasional sessions of Tag Tournament 2 in college, it’s been the one fighting game series that I just never got around to. There’s not much of a reason behind it, aside from my blissful ignorance of the series. Not to mention that there hasn’t been a mainline game in the series since Tekken 6 came to console nearly ten years ago.

So you can imagine that the hype for Tekken 7, which released last Friday, is absolutely through the roof. Mostly for good reason, as the game’s been in Japanese arcades for over two years and fans of the series are starved for something new from Bandai Namco. Those fans get everything they want and then some with this new edition, but new-ish players may feel a bit out of the loop and underwhelmed by what it has to offer.

Tekken 7
Bandai Namco /

The game does offer solid presentation. It runs on Unreal Engine 4 and at 900p, 60 frames per second on PS4; which, granted, is pretty standard fare nowadays. There were a few framerate issues within loading up fights, which also took a bit longer than you’d expect. That said, the PC version seems to have neither of these issues and can run at higher resolutions, but the potential lack of a player base compared to consoles may bring upon an uphill battle for those getting Tekken 7 on the platform.

Character models look pretty good for the most part, with water effects looking especially good during rainy scenes and when fighters are sweating due to the heat of battle. The flare effects that come up while blocking also do a good job of popping off the screen and adding in some color in stages that would otherwise not have much. The game also sports some nice music choices for some stages with the standard electronic fare that the entire game supports. Every bit of music throughout the series is also selectable in the jukebox and can be customized into a playlist or played using a preset. 

So yes, if you want to see what guest character Akuma is hiding under his gi, you can do that.

Tekken 7′s stages are pretty interesting as well. Whether you’re fighting in a jungle outpost or on a rising elevator in the Mishima Zaibatsu building, there’s plenty to appreciate in the backgrounds while the fighting is going on.  The real standout is Duomo di Sirio, the home of newcomer Claudio which looks like something straight out of the seemingly-forgotten Soul Calibur series. The daylight and stained glass combined with the lighter color palette really help show how good this game looks, and the multiple floors add a new depth to strategy. The training stages are also particularly fun, one of which literally being called “Geometric Plane” and has tiles moving up from the ground as combatants go at it to reveal bright, contrasting colors. It’s a nice break from the serious nature of most of the other stages.

Tekken 7’s main story claims to be the end of the “Mishima Saga” that has been going on since the first title all the way back in 1994. While it does have a fitting end and a very dark, shocking moment near the climax, the rest feels a bit jumbled and poorly executed. This is mainly in part due to the framing of the story through the eyes of a reporter digging into war between Heihachi and his Devil-blooded son Kazuya. It’s certainly a love letter to longtime fans and answers some questions that have been burning for a long time. It’s not helped by being pretty short (about 4-6 hours), and having one-fight bonus episodes with characters not directly involved with the main story that don’t really add much aside from some admittedly funny interactions. These replace what would traditionally be character endings in the arcade mode, which is now a universal credits roll after completing the ladder.

Tekken 7
Bandai Namco /

The game also features every one of the over 30 characters speaking their native tongue, which is a nice touch. It’s admittedly a bit awkward in some cutscenes, especially taking how difficult learning languages and being able to understand them fluently can take. Then again, that’s likely a fault of thinking too much about a game that, at the end of the day, doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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A great example of that is the amount of cosmetic options for each character that can be found. That’s right, you can dress anyone up in just about any way you can imagine to make them look as seriously badass or seriously ridiculous as you want. So yes, if you want to see what guest character Akuma is hiding under his gi, you can do that. It’s all earned through Fight Money, which is easily obtainable through simply playing the game; pricing for clothing seems pretty fair.

Since they’re purely cosmetic, clothing options are fully playable in the game’s online modes for everyone can bask in the goofiness or excellent additions/revision. It’s made even better with the cross-promotion with New Japan Pro Wrestling, allowing for shirts from the brand to make an appearance so that everyone can be a member of the Bullet Club or Chaos. Hell, King even dresses up as Kazuchika Okada for what is, in my estimation, the best full-body costume in the game. Aside from cosmetics, Fight Money can also buy you cutscenes from every other previous Tekken game; which is a nice touch for longtime fans, but maybe not so much for newcomers.

Waiting nearly ten minutes to get into a match in unranked isn’t fun.

On the other side of the coin, the game plays pretty well. Of course, this is bound to be expected given the pedigree of the Tekken franchise. Every character feels like they have weight behind each of their moves. It’s a neat feeling when you get your opponent in the air and begin wailing on them with combos. Whether you’re pulling off moves with series staples like Heihachi and King or creating fireballs with Akuma; it’s rewarding to figure out things with different fighters. The newer characters like Claudio and yes even Lucky Chloe fit right in and are designed well enough to where newcomers may not even know that they’re just as fresh into the franchise as they are.

Tekken 7 also introduces and puts focus on a pair of new mechanics; Power Crush and Rage Art. The former acts as almost a parry against high and mid attacks while the latter gives each character a super move of sorts when their health is at a critical level. Both are welcome additions to the formula, with Rage Arts being especially easy to pull off thanks to a one-button shortcut input that can be changed at the users’ discretion. 

Tekken 7
Bandai Namco /

Getting good can be an uphill battle though, as the game doesn’t offer much in the way of a tutorial, but does have a training mode that is fully customizable. With buttons corresponding to different limbs (left arm, left leg, etc.), it can be a bit daunting for new players to show up and pay attention to what they’re inputting without a mode specifically made to cater to that audience. With games like Injustice 2 and the Guilty Gear Xrd titles sporting these sorts of options, it’s just disappointing not to see Tekken 7 try and open up to newer players, especially considering the type of mainstream hype this game has been getting.

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In addition to that, it doesn’t offer much in the single player options aside from the story and practice mode. There is the previously-mentioned arcade mode that is pretty standard fare and also Treasure Battles, which can help earn fight money and cosmetic items quicker through a set of battles. It’s a neat addition, but that’s about it unless you have a friend to play with at home. It’s disappointing considering how much content Tag Tournament 2 ended up having when it came to consoles, such as the Fight Lab and even Tekken Ball. It’s hard to recommend this one to newcomers on the Xbox platform, in particular, especially with the fully-fleshed out Tag Tournament 2 and Tekken 6 both available through backwards compatibility at a cheaper price.

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Tekken 7‘s online is also fairly questionable. While netcode wasn’t necessarily the issue (especially from what I could gather about the PC version) and there wasn’t much lag in matches. Actually getting into matches ended up becoming more of the challenge, as the matchmaking system used for both player and ranked matches doesn’t exactly work well for consoles. Waiting nearly ten minutes to get into a match in unranked isn’t fun, and it happened in multiple instances on the PS4 version. Thankfully, the game offers private rooms that making things easier to find your friends along with a tournament mode that’s exclusively online. It doesn’t fix the aforementioned problems, not by a long shot, but it will give folks at least a little variety if they want it.

7. Make no mistake, Tekken 7 is a game for diehard fans of the series. It features solid combat and a story that, while not very strong, can justify fans wanting a solid conclusion to the nearly 25-year-long Mishima Saga. Unfortunately, this installment falters when it comes to everything else. A variety of problems on the console version, such as the poor online matchmaking and lack of other single-player content, hold back an otherwise strong entry in the series that longtime patrons will undoubtedly enjoy. For everyone else, the issues on the platforms with what will likely be the largest userbase may cause newcomers to tread lightly; or even just outright avoid this one until a good enough sale comes along.. Bandai Namco. . Tekken 7

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.