The most important thing that Tekken fans need to know about Tekken 6 is that it is, indubitably, Tekken. Everything that made all the previous games such great fun has made it through to Tekken 6 intact, and the game is looking as good as you'd expect for the franchise's long-awaited full next-gen debut.
The character roster is nothing short of ridiculous, with 40 characters playable in the standard Arcade and Versus modes, many of whom have new outfits alongside more traditional ones. Among this mind-bending roster are six all-new characters--four that were introduced when the first Tekken 6 machines hit Japanese arcades in late 2007 and two more that came in when the Bloodline Rebellion expansion on which the console release is based arrived in late 2008.
Of these, the most fun by a stretch is Alisa Bosconovitch, the latest robotic character to enter the fray. She has a bewildering array of moves, many of which seem to involve her growing wings, losing limbs, or--in at least two cases that we found--actually losing her head.
She has a charge-up attack that results in her firing her forearms in a devastating rocket attack. As with all such moves in Tekken, it's generally easy enough to dodge but can be pulled off with some aplomb when you really want to ram home your superiority against a showboating or incompetent opponent--or just someone who elects to play as Eddy or Christie.
Another useful trick Alisa has up her sleeve--in this case, literally--is a pair of chainsaws that can be extended from her arms at will, opening up a new set of moves, which include swipes and throws. She doesn't play very much like any other character in the series, which makes her something of a handful to deal with at first, but overall, she doesn't seem overpowered. As with many characters, she's particularly weak when changing stances, which makes up for the added power of her chainsaw-based attacks. This can be compensated for through the use of a couple of offensive combos that end with a switch to the new stance, but these are sufficiently hard to pull off--like other stance-dancing combos from the likes of Lei, Marshall Law, and others--that, again, this doesn't look likely to cause a problem.
Lars Alexandersson--an illegitimate son of Heihachi and a Swedish officer in Tekken Force--also made his debut in Bloodline Rebellion, and he's still looking good in the console port. He plays in a much more orthodox manner, as we reported back when it first hit arcades, and will provide another quiver to the bow of those who enjoy fighting with the Jin/Kazuya family of characters, though he's not wildly different.
Other loved characters and alternates return as expected--Roger Jr. is still absurd, Panda makes an appearance being as belligerent as ever, and some of the current roster return with impressive costume changes. The level of detail on Devil Jin was particularly impressive, with his seriously blinged-up gauntlets a sight to behold. Lili, who made her debut in Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection, is also looking great as her hair and clothes flutter as she twirls about.
Tekken 6 is shaping up to be, well, Tekken 6--it doesn't do anything revolutionary, but it's a good-looking step forward in terms of variety and sheer silliness. The console version is looking better than when we first saw it, and hopefully, come the end of the year, it will be able to sit alongside its arcade cousin with nary a hint of embarrassment. Keep it tuned to GameSpot over the coming months for more on the game. We should get our long-awaited first look at the game's impressive and possibly revolutionary online features very soon.
As well as getting to play the game, we got to sit down recently this month with the game's director, Katsuhiro Harada, who answered a few of our questions. When asked about the length of time it has taken for the game to make it to home consoles--with some speculation that the first-ever appearance of the series on a non-Sony platform was to blame--Harada-san explained that they were actually pleased with the speed of conversion, given the updates made to the arcade version of Tekken 6 in the form of Bloodline Rebellion and the amount of work required to bring the game as a whole up to the standards they wanted for the full home-console release. He also pointed out that Tekken 5--which was on consoles in the US mere months after its Japanese arcade release--was the exception rather than the rule, with previous Tekken games taking in excess of a year to make the transition.
Questioned on potential downloadable content, Harada-san reaffirmed his belief that you should ship a game when it is finished, with everything in the box. Namco has no plans for DLC at the moment, as everything it wanted in the game is in the game already. He also said that any future DLC, be it new costumes or other minor updates, would be free, with there being no plans for any charged-for upgrades or expansions.
Harada-san also revealed that he and the team are interested in potentially bringing in characters from other studios' games into the franchise, rather than bringing in characters from an entirely different area of entertainment as was done with Darth Vader and Yoda for Soul Calibur IV, but he did emphasise that despite the fact that no such discussions were currently underway, he liked the idea in principle.
For more on the game, keep it tuned to GameSpot as we move toward Tekken 6's release later in the year.