Tekken Tag Tournament 2 hasn't been confirmed for home consoles yet, but when we heard that Namco Bandai had a version of the arcade game at its E3 booth, we couldn't resist heading over there for a sneak peek at it. If you've been following the game since it was announced last September, we don't have any mind-blowing surprises for you, but we're happy to report that it's looking fantastic.
Not all of the stages that will be featured in the final game are in yet, but we got to see fights play out in several different ones that spoke volumes about how varied the arenas are going to be both aesthetically and in terms of how fights play out in them. Fighting in the middle of a desert is very different from fighting inside a decrepit building, for example, because while the former is a wide-open space, the latter affords you opportunities to back your opponents up against walls. New to the series in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 are multipart stages like those seen in the Dead or Alive series. Get your opponent up against a wall or fence (or even on the floor in some stages), hit him or her hard enough, and there's a chance you'll force them right through it and into another stage. A neat twist on this otherwise unoriginal (though always satisfying) gimmick is that when your opponent lands in the new stage, your tag partner will be there waiting to continue the beating.
Tag partners will have multiple uses in Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Besides tagging fighters in and out at the push of a fifth button, you'll be able to perform easy tag combos simply by holding down that fifth button along with both punch buttons. You need to time the initiation of these attacks lest you leave yourself vulnerable to counters, but they're an unusually uncomplicated way to pull off some impressive-looking combos all the same. Less straightforward are tag assaults, which afford you a rare opportunity to have both of your fighters gang up on an enemy simultaneously. Get caught on the wrong end of one of those, and you might have to bring in your own partner to try to free you, which means all four fighters will be onscreen simultaneously and, we're told, have no noticeable impact on the frame rate.
Regardless of the need for a steady frame rate, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 doesn't appear to be making many (or indeed, any) compromises where its visuals are concerned. Not only do all of the characters look incredible, but their previously pristine outfits are now susceptible to dirt. Characters who ended up on the floor in the desert stage ended up with grubby-looking clothing when they got back to their feet, and we're told that clothing will also get wet in some stages, though this wasn't readily apparent when we watched a fight taking place on a fishing boat.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is currently scheduled for release in Japanese arcades later this year. If you're anything like us, you're hoping that home console versions won't be too far behind.