Live from the fighting game tournament, Tekken Survivor Series, comes Gavin Yip. He is the orchestrator for the many successful gaming events held at the X1 Elite Gaming Lounge. Come listen as we talk about the local scene and talent we got right here in Providence!
Positioned as the final chapter of the incredible Tekken saga, Tekken 7 arrives to the ring right in the middle of a time where narrative driven fighting games are exchanging hard swings for the top spot. Developed and published by Bandai Namco, which is home to a few of the best story driven games including the Tales series, fellow fighter Soul Calibur, Dark Souls, & a long list of licensed franchises. Keeping longtime fans in mind, Tekken 7 maintains the core mechanics found throughout the series while tossing in a few new bells and whistles to keep things modern and exciting in the competitive scene.
The powerhouse that is Bandai Namco as it stands has no problem at all showcasing its technical prowess in the graphics area. The CGI animations give incredible value to the story telling, though quite possibly the only value (more on that later), by providing fluid mind-blowing visual magic. The cutscenes aren’t the only thing to appreciate when playing Tekken 7 however, more impressive is the pinpoint accuracy of the martial artist movement during gameplay. In a series so heavily embedded in international martial arts forms, every character stems from a different region of the country specializing in region specific martial arts form, the attention to detail is incredible. The body physics of each movement, impact on the body, and areas of exploitation mid move has to be handled carefully and using the Unreal 4 & CriWare, the Tekken team pulls it off flawlessly. When compared to games outside of the fighting genre it is clear there is still a bit more room for amazement but Tekken 7 looks exactly like it should on what should now be considered current generation consoles.
For a game toting itself as the “final chapter” in a long running series filled with incredible narratives driving the main story as well as the side stories for every character, Tekken 7 missed the mark by a long shot. The story is told through the perspective of a journalist who seemingly has been negatively impacted by the shenanigans of the Mishima family since the events of Tekken 4, as he continues to dive into the drama happening within the family and those close to it. The problem is the story provides more questions than it does answers and when it provides answers it tends to do so to either the least interesting questions or to questions most longtime fans already have the answers to. Even more disappointing is the lack of any true character development or major insight into the stories of the supporting cast. The majority of the playable characters in Tekken 7 get a single fight version of a story and none of them ever truly seem interesting, cohesive, or entirely valuable. The most painful part of it all comes in the form of the lackluster inclusion of guest fighter Akuma from Street Fighter, with even more questions being raised about how he got involved in all the action. The plot in Tekken 7 exist solely thanks to the series having built a story that needed to be completed. Did the story end? Seemingly, but was the ending good? Absolutely not.
The Tekken series has always had an incredible soundtrack and Tekken 7 incredibly raises the bar by not only having an amazing soundtrack of its own but also including the soundtrack from every game in the series. Managing to find a smooth balance of music that covers nearly every genre from heavy metal to smooth ballads to techno, the soundtrack can be used as fight music or light party ambience for any occasion. The voice acting on the other hand could definitely have taken a few steps upward, primarily during the story. Having the story narrated by one central character was already a pretty poor choice, but to have a bland uninteresting voice do the work as well seems like an intentional attempt to fail. The unknown journalist reads through the story as if he was assuming the player would be as disinterested as he is.
After nearly a decade of games Tekken 7 is the ultimate display of nearly perfect balance within a fighting game. It retains the majority of what has made the series incredible, technical, and fascinating. Newcomers unfamiliar with the series will find it very easy to grasp the concept of each face button controlling a specific limb while inputs on the directional pad alter the type of attack made. The interesting addition of the Rage Arts & Rage Drives, which can shift the balance of combat very quickly, add a new dynamic for long time veterans to enjoy mastering and understanding how to counter. The inclusion of real world martial art styles also helps to accentuate the flair and complexity of the gameplay with some characters having very defensive styles, very aggressive styles, fast styles and slow styles their are character choices for every type of player.
Tekken 7 at it’s core is a fighting game and as I always say, fighting games are fun for those who enjoy fighting games. With that said Tekken 7 is an extremely technical fighting game that is at its most fun when playing against someone of equal skill levels. The combo system is so powerful and demanding that playing against someone significantly better would be extremely boring and unexciting as the challenge can be overwhelming. The fun factor of Tekken goes above and beyond with the inclusion of character customization which allows you to dress up series favorites like Kazuya, Heihachi, and Paul Phoenix in the most ridiculous garments. Of course for those who say, love getting some decent “looks” at female characters in games, fear not as bikini costumes are available by the boatload. A few dozen arcade modes make Tekken 7 amazingly fun to play, save for the story mode of course.
As a fighting game, Tekken 7 hits the nail on the head by being a completely well-balanced technical and competitive fighter with hours upon hours worth of customizable fun. As a complete fighting game package however, Tekken 7 misses the mark significantly by providing a mediocre, bland, and incredibly disappointing narrative especially considering that; A) it was positioned as the final chapter in a series deep rooted in an incredible storyline and B) it released in a time where every game in its genre is pushing the boundary of storytelling in video games (except for Street Fighter 5, that narrative was inexcusably terrible). Tekken 7 delivers excellently for competitive fighters, but by narrative is a complete disaster.
Injustice 2 is the follow up title to a groundbreaking entry into the competitive fighting game world, seamlessly merging video games and comic book adventures into one incredible bundle of joy. Injustice 2 has super powered shoes to fill. Developed by Nether Realm studios, home of the legendary “Mortal Kombat” series, and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Injustice 2 released on May 16th, 2017. Despite retaining much of the core mechanics of what made the original incredible, the team decided to throw in a few curveballs to keep things fresh and interesting.
Nether Realm Studios has never stopped flexing its technical muscle and this game is no different. A beautiful display graphics expected from the current generation of consoles. The animations, level design and character design were nearly flawless. However, playing on a 4K screen did show a few areas that could use improvement. Line fragmenting and shading issues were rare but occasional if not to not warrant a full on ignore. With no doubt the game is beautiful from top to bottom but with the industry pushing towards 4K with games like Horizon, Uncharted, and Final Fantasy setting the pretty high; a height that Injustice 2 does not quite reach.
Video games based on comic book characters have existed for quite some time. However, good video games based on comic book characters are certainly something new and exciting (especially based in the fighting game genre). Any fears that DC would shy away from delivering a storyline worthy of its own printed iteration are smashed into the ground with super moves from characters like Superman, Super-Girl, and Green Lantern. Every chapter forces you to play through a seamless storyline which manages to truly challenge you to think about the meanings of good and evil. The plot powerfully forces you to feel not only empowered but also impacted by every single decision made by our favorite super heroes and villains as they convert from friends to foes and vice versa. As the world crumbles the narrative challenges the player to question what they would do in every situation while pushing the boundaries of family, friendship, justice, honor, and vengeance. Fighting games are rarely known for their storylines, but the carefully directed script of Injustice 2 is a milestone for the genre. From now on, any other fighting game needs to think twice before choosing to neglect an excellently written adventure. Two words remain: multiple endings.
World devastating explosions, super powered bone on bone impacts, and atmospheric music composition set the tone for the entire game. When playing through, it is clear that every sound was masterfully selected to fully envelope the player in the war that is taking place. The voice acting has to be recognized and encouraged for all future games as it was a driving force for getting the player emotionally invested in what was happening to the people on screen. Hearing the difference between Super-girl screaming out in pain getting abused on a table and screaming out in disagreement with a pivotal decision Wonder Woman had made create a true sense of fleshed out dynamic between characters. Every single personality was shown out so flawlessly in every dialogue and conversation that it made even the weakest of comic book cliches (see: mind controlled characters) seem brand new and exciting.
While the vast majority of the original Injustice game mechanics remain intact, for better or worse, there were quite a few incredible new additions that really spice up the fun. The introduction of an RPG Style equipment management system is fantastic. As the player goes on through the game comic book fanfare collectibles are unlocked for every single fighter which change the dynamic of that characters fighting style and stats. Leveling up a favorite character feels incredibly rewarding while daily challenges encourage the use of other characters to earn currency to unlock more gadgets and bragging rights. Unlike most fighting games the Injustice series utilizes a three face button attack scheme which can be hard for new players to become acquainted with as certain buttons do not attack which may leave them confused. There seemed to be a moderate emphasis on the inclusion of the triangle button which could be an issue for longevity and durability of controllers.
Injustice 2 at its core is a fighting game. Fighting games are fun for those who enjoy fighting games. With that said Injustice 2 is an extremely fun fighting game even when compared to other games outside of its genre. The idea of matching up iconic super heroes and villains in one on one combat is something irrefutably fun. Superman VS Batman? That’s nothing. How about Green Arrow VS Atrocitus? Now that’s a match up for the books. An endless amount of replayability lies in being able to choose your fighter with no regard to whether the battle makes sense or not. That in itself is an amazing add in the newly added RPG-style equipment management that alters every aspect of your character from health to speed, power to fighting style with the end result being endless and ferocious combinations.
Fighting game fans and comic book funs may rejoice knowing that Injustice 2 excels at being fantastic on both sides of the spectrum. Although a bit challenging for beginners as a fighter it is very inviting for players of all ages who love the lineup of DC Comics. Although lacking some notable heroes, who of course may be added down the road through DLC Fighter Packs (an issue for another day), the current roster combined with the new equipment system allow for a nearly endless amount of comic book matches and just as many hours of fun alone and amongst friends.