Tekken 6 First Impressions

Namco showed us a brief peek of its upcoming slugfest, and it left us hungry for more.

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At the recent Atari Live showcase in central London, Namco Bandai was on hand to show off the latest in the Tekken series. Sadly, we're yet to get hands-on with the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 version of the game, but project lead Katsuhiro Harada-san was happy to demonstrate some of its features for us.

There are 40 characters in total, from old favourites to newcomers.
There are 40 characters in total, from old favourites to newcomers.

Tekken 6 has 40 characters in total, the greatest number in the series to date. Harada-san pointed out a few of the key characters to us such as Lars, a Swedish fighter sporting a rock star look, and Alisa Bosconovitch, a robot who can throw her head at opponents with explosive results, and can fire her limbs off. Meanwhile, Bob is an obese, barrel-chested American fighter who deliberately gained weight to improve his performance. Combined with his unusually fast speed, this should make him a formidable opponent. Leo is a German kung fu-style fighter with effeminate looks and a questionable gender. Zafina is the first Middle Eastern character to feature in the game; others to be included for the first time in a console version of the game are Dragunov and Lili, from the PSP's Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection. In total there are eight new characters since Tekken 5.

Fans of the series won't be surprised that Tekken 6 is looking gorgeous, with highly detailed character models and levels. All of the fighters we saw had impressive animation routines, and we can't wait to get our hands on the game. According to Harada-san, Tekken 6 will run at 60 frames per second with updated graphics including new "close processing" effects and full-body motion blur, giving the action a very fluid, smooth look. The costumes and characters are separate objects, giving clothes a natural, flowing look. Arenas have also been given an overhaul and should be a lot more dynamic this time around and feature persistent damage. You'll be able to slam an enemy through the ground, for example, and depending on the stage you can break through certain floors or walls into a new area. In a village stage we saw, the ground was full of mud and dirt, but certain areas in the middle had bricks that were destructible. Meanwhile, another stage had a glass floor, making the destructible areas obvious.

While Tekken has featured aerial combos previously, a new feature that Harada-san called a "bound combo system" allows you to string aerial and ground-based attacks together. You'll be able to launch opponents into the air, followed by slamming them into the ground or a wall, which will bounce them back up into the air to continue your combo. While you can string combos together, you won't be able to do it indefinitely: Harada-san also pointed out that the health meter will glow red when it drops below a certain point. Attacks will become more powerful when you are low on health, so you'll need to plan your attacks carefully, keeping in mind the system will kick in once your opponent's health drops to a certain level.

You'll also be able to pull off some cool taunts. If your character has a gun, for instance, you can pull it out and use it as a taunt. Some characters can pick up chickens walking around the stage and make them attack, or you can cast a spell, turning your opponent's head into a stuffed panda in the process. Some taunts will cause your opponent to lose health, and we're told they will all be quite difficult to pull off, so you'll need to make sure you're out of harm's way when attempting one.

Harada-san was also keen to mention Tekken 6 will have real-time online versus play, and that while they've yet to reveal it, the team is also planning to include another online mode. Ghost data will also be downloadable, which runs the particular characteristic to how a given player fights. You'll also be able to learn techniques through replays of fights, and you can join up with your friends to form an online team.

Tekken's graphics run at a silky-smooth 60fps.
Tekken's graphics run at a silky-smooth 60fps.

Tekken 6 will be heading to the Xbox 360 and PS3 in the second half of 2009. For more on the game, stay tuned to GameSpot as development continues.

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