Tekken Hybrid looks impressive at first blush. This three-part collection includes Tekken Tag Tournament HD, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue, and the movie Tekken: Blood Vengeance. But spend a little time with it and you find a disappointing trio of products that make this frail collection fall flat.
The first, and most substantial, inclusion is Tekken Tag Tournament HD. This rerelease of a PlayStation 2 favorite slaps on a high-resolution texture update and calls it a day. For better or worse, nothing else has changed. The classic gameplay is still intact and holds up surprisingly well after 11 years. Naturally, some characters lack the tricks their modern versions have, but it's still interesting to see your favorite fighters' early years and appreciate what they have gained (or lost) since. You can duke it out in Arcade, Survival, or Time Trial mode, but the most unique is still Tekken Bowl.
This goofy minigame takes the fighters out of the ring and into a bowling alley. Instead of throwing punches, Tag's stylish scrappers throw crystal bowling balls into golden pins molded to the likeness of Heihachi Mishima. Each character has his or her own bowling style, which is reflected in the behavior of the power meters.
However, even with a new coat of paint, the game's visuals haven't aged well. The character models shine with a waxy, inhuman sheen and seem to be lit by a static spotlight pointed right on top of them. There's also a recurring graphical issue from the original that persists here. It has to do with the way the arena is rendered against the background. To give the illusion of distance, the foreground area rotates at a faster rate than the background. You can see this split between the two occur, which makes it look as if you fighting on a dirt-colored disk.
Compared to the improvements seen in Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition--which had online support and additional practice modes--Tag HD is a disappointment. Online support of any kind is absent, as are any additional modes or content. It's a shallow release and is not the sort of treatment this great game deserves. And as Tekken Hybrid's anchor, its bare-bones delivery doesn't bode well for the rest of the package.
Next is Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue. In the same vein as Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, this game is a demo for the upcoming fighter of the same name. It brings together four of the primary characters seen in the Tekken: Blood Vengeance movie--Xiaoyu, Alisa, Devil Jin, and Kazuya (also in devil form)--and gives you a painfully limited taste of what's to come. The game feels every bit as quick as its predecessor and even includes a few new tricks you can perform with your tag partner. But while the lack of other modes is expected, the lack of a character move list adds unnecessary confusion.
Tekken: Blood Vengeance is the third and final item on the Tekken Hybrid pile. Unlike Hybrid's other two offerings, this is a CG movie set within the Tekken universe. And in keeping with the bar set by Resident Evil: Degeneration and Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, it's completely terrible. As you may recall, the Tekken universe has a slick, cyberpunk style centered on corporate warfare and a global fighting tournament. The movie spends most of its time fleeing from these elements and instead follows schoolgirls Xiaoyu and Alisa as they become best friends and talk about cute boys.
A conspiracy plot involving an immortal teenager and the infamous Mishima family skirts around the edges of the film but is never fully developed. That is, until the film's climax, when a massive battle royal breaks out between several characters we've hardly seen and care nothing about. From a technical aspect, it looks stunning and makes us excited for the cinematic quality of Tag 2. But as a movie, it's flashy and shallow, and is a thin excuse to throw a bunch of fantasy kung fu on the screen.
Tekken Hybrid is a weak offering that attempts to mask three shallow items under the veil of value by rolling them all into one release. Tekken Tag Tournament HD is the only real inclusion of note, but its sloppy graphical overhaul and complete lack of online support hardly make it worth a downloadable release, let alone a $40 retail product. If you simply need a Tag fix before the sequel's release, you're better off dusting off your PlayStation 2 and picking up a used copy of the original Tekken Tag Tournament.