Hands-on: Tekken Tag Tournament

Namco's anticipated fighting game is finally released - see our new media and impressions.

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Our crew in Japan spent the day playing the latest batch of PlayStation2 software releases, including the highly anticipated Tekken Tag Tournament. See their impressions of the game.

Jeff Gerstmann's impressions:

Tekken Tag Tournament for the PlayStation2 looks pretty nice. It isn't exactly light-years ahead of everything else out there, but it looks nice. There don't seem to be any issues with slowdown, and the jagged edges that stuck out like a sore thumb throughout Ridge Racer V are far less noticeable here. The gameplay is, well, exactly what you would expect it to be. The major addition to TTT is, of course, the tag function. All four of the shoulder buttons default to tag. Other than that, it's Tekken 3 with a few new moves, a bunch of Tekken 2 characters, and a new boss. So, it's a bit tough to get too excited about it.

The game endings are done using the game engine. The endings look pretty nice, but after watching the amazing intro movie (which, by the way, features the best prerendered car crashes I've ever seen), it's, again, tough to get too excited about the comparatively simple game-engine endings. The four-player action, similar to that of Dead or Alive 2 and Marvel vs. Capcom's cross-fever mode, adds a bit of excitement to the game and makes it feel more like a party game.

Is TTT a good game? Well, yes. It's still an amazing fighting game (provided you aren't completely tired of Tekken 3 already) with great graphics. But all it really did was make me long for Tekken 4.

James Mielke's impressions:

Tekken Tag Tournament, for people who can't get enough of Tekken, is probably awesome. It's fast, it's pretty, and it's loaded with value. However, as a person who has watched the genre move forward by the likes of Namco's own Soul Calibur and Tecmo's Dead or Alive 2, I think TTT, is merely OK. The reason is that it's basically just Tekken, with an additional character to play. After playing tons of Soul Calibur, and the newer, faster, wickedly intense DOA2, Tekken Tag just felt "sticky" to me. After playing Jeff Gerstmann, I practically had to relearn the game, as the fighting games I've been playing left me unprepared to slip back into Tekken's combo-heavy fighting engine. If you've played Tekken 3, you've basically played TTT. Remember, like Soul Calibur, Tekken Tag Tournament is a port of a System-12 game, perhaps keeping it from being the monster it could have been. I suspect we'll see what Namco can really do with the hardware when the company develops a brand-new Tekken, from the ground up, on the PS2.

Yup, there are tons of characters to play as, and the game looks great, but little things bug me about it. First, the game stages appear to move, on a rotating plate, as the stages in Tekken 3 had. The backgrounds, traditionally, move independently of the foreground, giving it a pasted-on look. With games like DOA2 and VF3tb offering unlevel stages to affect your strategy, Tekken's flat backgrounds limit the strategic possibilities available. The fully 3D background characters also seem like an afterthought, giving the game a Pit Fighter-esque feel at times. Perhaps the one thing I really dislike about the game is that when one person's life bar is depleted, the round is over. I'd rather have a fight to the finish, but that might just be me.

While we'll have a full review coming soon, as I play the game now, I remain appreciative of the quality but unimpressed by the lack of true innovation.

Sam Kennedy's impressions:

Over the past few months I've had a few opportunities to get my hands on Tekken Tag Tournament for the PlayStation2, so I pretty much knew what to expect - an incredible game of Tekken. But what I didn't expect to find was such a well-polished title. Basically, TTT on the PS2 is to the arcade game of the same name what Soul Calibur for the Dreamcast was to its respective arcade incarnation. It's a huge step up over the arcade in terms of graphics, and it offers a multitude of characters and secrets to unlock.

Graphically, the game is one of the most impressive fighting games to date. The characters cheering in the backgrounds are a really nice touch - as is the great fire and light effects. As well, the next CG intro is quite cool. Musically, the game is pretty good, but nothing special (this is one area that Soul Calibur seems to prevail over TTT). I found a few tracks to be pretty cool, but the others are just standard background fighting music. Gameplay-wise, it's Tekken. If you like Tekken, you'll love this game - plain and simple as that.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed.

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