Tekken is one of the most successful beat 'em up franchises ever and maybe the most consistent of them in terms of quality. Tekken 6 was published in 2009, but the latest Tag Tournament was published in 2000 as one of the first games for Playstation 2. It was an instant hit, but no sequel was released. Namco didn't add the tag mechanism to any canon games, though, so that signaled that there may be a Tag Tournament 2 one day. Now, 12 years later, the wait is over. Tag Tournament 2 is here!
Tag Tournament isn't part of the main canon storyline and it really doesn't have much of a story. This enables the comeback of classic less relevant characters that haven't been in the main games for ages, for example the fighting dinosaur Alex, the old scientist Dr. Boskonovitch, female ninja Kunimitsu and disco maniac Tiger Jackson. The most important return is the comeback of Jun Kazama, who is a familiar face for Tekken fanatics. The roster of course includes old favorites, like Kazuya, Paul, Law, Jin, Nina and others. There are almost sixty fighters, so Tag Tournament 2 has the biggest Tekken roster ever.
The gameplay is familiar Tekken with the tag play added. The player chooses two characters and takes turns with them as he wishes. Tag mechanism can be used cleverly tag throws, tag assaults and tag crashes. Lone wolves can be alone, too, if they want to. A good Tekken players knows the moves of his character, can block at the right time, use throws in the right situations and of course juggle. Juggling means hitting your opponent repeatedly while he/she is in the air. It is a very useful technic.
When one of the characters takes enough damage, the other character goes to a rage state. Raging character is more effective than a regular one, so use it wisely. Tag 2 has lots of game modes. In arcade mode you unlock hilarious ending videos, in ghost battle you earn money in normal fights, in survival you try to beat as many opponents in a row as you can, in team battle you fight with up to eight characters, in practice you simply practice and in the versus mode you can fight against your friend or in pair play you can be your friend's partner.
Because everyone wants to make their fighters look unique, the customization is back and this time you can make ten attires for each character, which is quite generous. You can dress up your characters with jackets, hats, glasses, shirts, pants and put decals in them as you wish. You can also change hairstyles, but sadly you can't apply beards to the male fighters. You can also equip your character with all kinds of strange "weapons", like plasma rifles, magic wands, fishes and tulips. Weird Japanese humor right there. You can then use your weapon in a fight as an item move that is usually slow and doesn't even do much damage, but it's funny though.
The fighting arenas are once again an absurd collection of different locations. There is a dark temple, a sunny tulip field, an isolated canyon, a rich jungle and a snowy arena full of santas, reindeers and candy canes. A new thing is the Tekken Tunes which allows you to change the background musics. Another new mode is the Fight Lab mode in which you are taught the basics of Tekken gameplay from basic moves to guarding and throw blocks and tag attacks. Fight Lab's main character is the familiar robot from Tekken 4 called Combot who is taught by the hilarious Lee Chaolan. Fight Lab is a quite nice addition, but even a Tekken veteran like me had trouble completing some of its sequences.
Tag Tournament 2 looks good. The characters look shiny and detailed, even though some rough textures can be spotted, especially in clothes. The environments look really good. The menus are stylish also. The sounds are nice, too. Background musics generally concentrate on dubstep and techno. They aren't too memorable aside from a few exceptions (Tekken 4 arena theme remix and Tekken 1 Fiji theme remix). Voice acting is decent and now every fighter speaks their native language. I'm a bit bummed about Bryan Fury's voice actor change, since he can't do that epic robotic evil laugh, but I can live with it.
Because of the huge character roster, you're gonna be learning the movesets for a while and earning money for the customization is quite addictive. Still, I feel like Tag 2 lacks the totally hooking single player mode that would force you to play the game over and over again. I don't know is it because of the lack of a real story, but playing the single player mode, especially after you've unlocked all the customization items, feels a bit uninspiring.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is still an ultimate package of Tekken nostalgia and it is a must-buy for longtime Tekken fans. It probably won't attract new people to the series, because there's not much new in this one. The lack of story brings it down a little, but the gameplay is probably the best beat 'em up gameplay ever. Flashy, fast-paced and satisfying. Buy it if you like fighting games.
+ Great gameplay, huge character roster, nice graphics, customization is fun, funny Japanese humor
- Lacks a totally hooking single player mode, not much new here
REAL SCORE: 9.2