Hands on with Tekken Tag Tournament 2; dated for September

The world’s best-selling fighting franchise returns this Fall with a new release in the series that continues the tag branch of the Tekken license. No exact date has been given other than September.

So far 41 characters have been announced, and several more are being kept under wraps for now. All of the characters from Tekken 6 will be available, but the rest are a mystery. We had the chance to go hands on with the newest game to sport the Tekken moniker, which will be released on PS3, Xbox 360, and in the arcade as well.

The game will live up to its name and feature a tag mechanic that allows two characters per team, which will open up a huge amount of potential combo moves. The switch is done easily with the touch of a button, and that move can be combined with either a throw or a punch attack to deal damage with both characters.

The game is still Tekken, and although there are more moves than ever, the characters will still move and responds as you would expect of the series. For new players and players looking for a bit of a refresher on the mechanics, there is the Fight Lab, a new way of looking at a tutorial.

The Fight Lab is a story within the story, and features a sparring robot that you take control of and are tasked with completing simple objectives—things like hit the correct icon on the opponent (high, medium, or low) while avoiding the other icons which can explode.

It teaches you to play by making the tutorial into a game rather than just a “follow the commands” tutorial, and the developers are quick to point out that it is not just for beginners. It will definitely benefit novices and the first few objectives may be elementary to seasoned Tekken fans—or seasoned gamers in general—but after that the Fight Lab will help to improve your skill level regardless of your familiarity with the series.

As you continue in to the Fight Lab, much of the training will shift to mini-games. These mini-games are more than just hit the opponent at the right time in the right location, instead they will have you kick balls being thrown at you, or punching someone to keep them in the air while they expand like a balloon with each punch. It will do the same thing as a standard tutorial, but it is done in a unique way that sneaks up on you and forces you to learn without realizing you are learning. It is the gaming equivalent of Mr. Miyagi tricking Daniel-san into learning to block by making him paint the fence.

But the thing that really sets Fight Lab apart is that the more you play with your “combot,” the more it adapts to your fighting style and becomes a unique character for you that you can use in other modes. For each level you complete, you earn points that you can use to assign moves from existing characters, as well as parts that make your character stronger. It is a customizable character that you create based on your own play style, and each combot will be unique to each player. How this all plays out remains to be seen, but we should know more about it at E3.

Although there are already a healthy number of characters available and the combot means you can create new characters, there is a possibility of even more coming in the future through DLC—a first for the series–and Tekken franchise producer, Katsuhiro Harada, has stated that additional characters will not cost players any money.

There will also be several other game modes in addition to the Fight Lab and the standard arcade mode that will be unveiled in the coming months, but regardless of the mode the game revolves around the tag mechanic and playing with a partner—even when you don’t use a partner. 

Of course, you can always play solo and control two characters, or you can play one player against two. This creates an automatic handicap, and the damage is heavier against the two characters when you play as just one, but you lose some of the most powerful attacks. The game will also feature two on two fights, and each of the characters can be controlled by up to four players. Regardless, there are multiple options.

As with previous Tekken games, each of the characters will have their own CGI ending, but the epilogues in Tekken Tag 2 will be longer than in previous titles. There will also be interconnected stories that require you to play as multiple characters to see the full story.

Although Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is technically a direct sequel to the original Tekken Tag game that appeared in the arcades back in 1999, it is more accurate to think of it as Tekken 7—or maybe Tekken 6.5. It is the next evolution of the Tekken series, and adds the tag element that is popular in fighting game right now, but does it without subverting the primary Tekken games, which are—and will remain—a singular combat fighting series.

Expect to hear a lot more about this title in the coming months, including when exactly in September we can expect the game. Whatever date it hits though, if you are a fighting fan or are even slightly interested in the genre, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is a game you need to have on your radar.

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