Fantastic fighting ; huge ; geat cast ; technivally flawless ; super extras

User Rating: 9 | Tekken 5 PS2
Tekken 5's main asset is its fast, smooth fighting engine. The action moves at a lightning fast-pace, with many rounds decided inside of 30 often heart-racing seconds. The system is fairly deep, attack reversals, chickens[reversals of reversals], dodges, wave dashes, low parries, and good old fashioned blocking are just some of the offensive and defensive options available to you. Best of all, the series' focus on spectacular juggles are alive and well., making for some truly satisfying combo possibilities. Walls are still present, but they play as much less of a role than in the sometimes claustrophobic Tekken 4.

As for control, it goes without saying that the response is flawless and the button scheme well-designed. However, it's also worth nothing that most of the characters' moves are less dependent on precise joystick inputs than in Virtua Fighter 4, so unlike that game, Tekken 5 can actually be played pretty well with the PS2's stock controller. A joystick never hurts though.

Another high pont is the wide and diverse cast. Once everything is unlocked you'll have 30 or so characters to choose from, and most are capable enough to deliver some good results ... at least after some practice. From Kazuya's up-close power juggles to Yoshimitsu's deceptive trickery to King's ridiculously intricate multi-part throws, Tekken 5's castos like a greatest hits of Tekken. Namco even saw fit to bring back Wang Jinrei, my favorite, elderly brawler from Tekken 2. The three (or is it four) new characters are great additions as well, especially if you like spandexed boobs, ninjasor both. It's safe to say you're probably covered.

Single-player is not where it's at with fighting games, but Namco, Sega, and the all the rest keep trying anyway. Tekken 5's first major single-player offering is a story mode, which is like the old arcade modes (fight nine matches, which grts harder) except with little cutscenes at the half-way and ending points. It's okay, but felt like a chore as I solgged through it 30+ times to unlock all characters. I wonder how many more fighting games I'll have to fo this for in my life.

Namco does better with the new arcade mode, which just jeeps on going until you've had your fill --it's the best way to play Tekken 5 alone. taking a cue from VF4: Evolution, arcade mode simulates a visit to a real game center. Each character you fight has an associated player nickname and ranking, and you can advance your own rank by winning consistently. Victory also brings cash prizes, which you can take to customize mode to purchase clothes and other accessories with which to pimp out your fighter, There doesn;t seem to be as many items as in VF4: Evo, but what's there is a great start.

You'll ber able to use your tweaked-out warrior against friends in versus mode, but if it attaches a win/loss record to your character ala VF4, I haven't been able to find it. The other obvious multiplayer shortcoming is a lack of online play. This isn't surprising coming from a Japanese PS2 Game, but if Dead or Alive has this and Tekken does not, something's wrong.

Technically speaking, Teken 5 is a surprisingly beautiful game, and after the relative drabness of it's predecessor it seems even more so. The fighting arenas are an inspired bunch, with plenty of visual variety, a mix between walled and non-walled, a fair amount of animation, and nice variation between light and dark. The characters look even better, While it's possible to spot signs of low-poly modeling when looked at too closely, that's nitpicking; they're easily the best character models I've seen on PS2, especially in termsof facial animation. Toss in 16:9 widescreen support, progressive scan, and minimal load times and tekken 5 looks almost like an Xbox game on the Ps3, running at 60 frames per second and never missing a beat. It's truly impressive.

The eclectic music, meanwhile, is back up to series standards -- it's probably closest to Tekken 2's in feel, cutting back on the too-hard techno that characterized more recent games. Thumbs up.

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