Tekken, one of the most respected names in the 3D fighting genre, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and the forthcoming release of Tekken 5 for the PlayStation 2 is going to do much to commemorate the occasion. Last week, we brought you a full preview of the home version of the game, detailing how the game's poised to push the PS2 to new heights by giving fighting game players of all experience levels something worth getting worked up about. What's more, we recently got word of some of the game's bonus content (we got to try some of it out, too), ranging from previously unannounced unlockable fighters to some decidedly unexpected extra modes of play, and we think it all amounts to some exciting news, indeed. Want to hear the best part, though? Tekken 5 has been confirmed for release this month.
For what it's worth, the sudden confirmation of an imminent release date is certainly an unusual development for a rather highly anticipated game such as this. It's a surprising announcement that doesn't necessarily leave much time for Tekken 5 to ratchet up all the hype that your typical big-name PlayStation 2 release gets leading up to its big debut on store shelves. But that's OK. From what we've seen and played of the game so far--and from what we now know of the bonus content that's part of the package--we're quite sure Tekken 5 will get by just fine on the strength of its own merits, not to mention on the coattails of its (mostly) beloved predecessors.
Actually, that leads into what's possibly the greatest of Tekken 5's extras: Anyone who needs a refresher on the Tekken series' past milestones will get it as part of Tekken 5, because the game will feature a special "arcade history" mode featuring fully playable arcade versions of the original Tekken, Tekken 2, and Tekken 3. The latter two games earned extremely high scores from GameSpot back in their days (the first Tekken slightly predates GameSpot's launch in 1996), and much of the gameplay from subsequent games in the series was derived from them. So while these games might not look all that great by today's standards, especially not the original (with its weirdly proportioned characters), they still play great, and it'll be excellent having them bundled with Tekken 5. In case you're wondering, later Tekken titles, like Tekken 4 and Tekken Tag Tournament, won't be included. Check your PS2 bargain bin if you want to get your hands on those.
The other major Tekken 5 bonus is an action adventure-style mode called "devil within," starring Tekken's slightly disturbed, handsomely tattooed karate fighter Jin Kazama. This third-person-perspective mode will remind Tekken fans of the beat-'em-up-style "Tekken force" mode they've played in the past, but there's more to this one than just walking to the right and smacking down thugs. Devil within actually features a unique control scheme, allowing Jin to double-jump and mantle up over ledges like any self-respecting action adventure hero can these days. Of course, he'll still have access to all his moves, including various throws and combos, and players will get to take advantage of these as they fight their ways past droves of thugs in five unique stages. This mode looks like it can be quite fun, and it'll also provide some new insight into Tekken's storyline.
But, wait! There's more. These extras are all well and good, but you know you'll be going back to the core one-on-one fighting action once you're done with them. To that end, Tekken 5 will feature more hidden, unlockable characters than maybe you bargained for, and like the rest of the cast, each of these will boast his or her own unique story sequences (including a computer-generated ending). The newly announced unlockable fighters are clearly designed to nostalgically appeal to Tekken fans, though new players ought to appreciate them just as well. These fighters include Kuma, whose name literally means "bear" in Japanese and who literally is, in fact, a great, big bear. His counterpart, the appropriately named Panda, will also be playable. We were further pleased to see Mokujin as part of the roster. Mokujin, as you may recall, is basically a wooden dummy...but one who happens to randomly take on the moves of any of the other available fighters at the beginning of each round. His weirdness factor is off the charts, which is great, but he's also the perfect character to keep indecisive expert players happily engaged. Two other returning fighters are the kick boxer Bruce Irvin and the sumo wrestler Ganryu. These characters' distinct moves should be welcome additions to Tekken's eclectic mix of fighting styles.
There's a lot more to say about Tekken 5, but since it's just days away from release, we figure the next time we bring you an update, it's going to be based on the finished product. We're eagerly looking forward to getting our hands on the game, playing it to death, and bringing you all the details. Stay tuned.