Tekken 4 Preview

The arcade version of Tekken 4 was shown in playable form at a event in Japan. GameSpot was on-hand to see the game in action.

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Three arcade companies, Namco, Capcom, and Kato Manufacturing, jointly held a private show in Japan this week. GameSpot was there to check out the upcoming arcade games for the summer. Most notably, Tekken 4 made its first appearance in playable form at the event.

As attendees entered the hall, large projection screens gave us a peek at the intro CG movie for the game. It starts off by showing the ending to a previous Tekken game, where Heihachi drops his son, Kazuya, into a volcano pit. The screen fades to black and displays the words, "20 Years Later." In the next scene, Heihachi is inside a room in an office building, carefully watching a monitor. SWAT troops crash in and run inside the ominous and gloomy office building in search of Kazuya. One of the members of the SWAT team happens to find Kazuya, and Heihachi looks at the monitor, surprised that Kazuya didn't perish in the volcano. "He's still alive?" Heihachi remarks. The entire SWAT team attacks one by one but is instead obliterated by Kazuya's martial arts. The scene then switches to a flashback, where Kazuya walks off the airplane with a group of men wearing dark suits. With the sun glaring, he takes off his sunglasses and says, "I am supposed to be dead. But I've got my own plans." The next scene takes us back to the dark office building, and Kazuya pulls a gun from one of the troops. He notices a CCD camera on their heads, and instead of shooting the SWAT team member, he says, "I'm going to take back what is mine," and punches the camera, expressing his rage for Heihachi. The old man Heihachi grumbles, "You just don't die, do you?" Then the screen scrolls up with a flaming number "4," and the title logo appears.

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Click for full-size image

There are eight playable characters in the demo version of Tekken 4. They are Jin Kazama, Paul Phoenix, Ling Xiaoyu, new character Steve Fox, Hwoarang, King, Marshall Law, and Yoshimitsu. With the inclusion of newly introduced characters Christie Montiero, Craig Marduk, and many more returning ones, Tekken 4 will feature up to 20 playable characters, some of whom will be time-released in the arcades.

Christie Montiero has family ties to previous fighters in the Iron Fist Tournament. Granddaughter of Eddy Gordo's former master, she was taught capoeira until Gordo's recent disappearance led her to enter the fourth Iron Fist Tournament in search of him. Professional wrestler Craig Marduk uses the Vale Tudo fighting style. Recently released from prison, Marduk discovers his freedom has been orchestrated by a mysterious individual who sends him a plane ticket and information on the tournament. Lastly, Steve Fox, a British boxer who has run afoul of the mafia for refusing to throw a fight and has been on the run ever since, enters the tournament in the hopes of staying alive and uncovering the mysteries of his past.

At the show, only six stages, including a parking area, airport, building, mall, jungle, and laboratory, were selectable in the demo. Naturally, there will be more stages featured in the final game, especially considering the number of characters. In fact, two more stages, the beach and city of Shinjuku, were shown as part of the video footage. We spoke with one of Namco's representatives regarding the game, who told us that "the playable version on the show floor is approximately 40 percent complete." She continued, "Some stages have yet to include some of the dynamic background elements. For example, the parking area will have crowds in the background in the final version. Also, certain objects in the background can be destroyed." However, don't expect the environmental interactivity to reach the level of such games as Tecmo's Dead or Alive 2.

Click for full-size image
Click for full-size image

Visually, Tekken 4 looks very much like its predecessor, Tekken Tag Tournament. In the game, you can now move freely while remaining in the same plane as your opponent--this gives the game a closer feel to Namco's own Soul Calibur. But essentially, the field still moves in 2.5D and is now finite with the introduction of walls. The addition of the ability to sidestep opponents also adds new elements of strategy to the fighting styles in the series. For example, if you are backed up against a wall, you can use this technique to sidestep your opponents, grab and pull them toward you, and swap positions, effectively pinning your opponent against the same wall. There are also slight undulations in some of the terrain in the game's stages, adding further depth. While its primary competitor in the 3D fighting game genre, Virtua Fighter 4, seems to be going back to basics, Tekken 4 seems to be following what Virtua Fighter 3 did by adding walls and terrain undulation. It is clear that the developers of the respective series, AM2 with Virtua Fighter 4 and Namco with Tekken 4, are taking different directions in the next incarnation of their respective games.

Tekken 4 is scheduled to hit the arcades in Japan this July.

Images courtesy of Namco Arcade.

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