The Tekken series has had its ups and downs over the past decade. Its core fighting mechanics have remained superb, but its attention to what players want from their fighting experience has been less than phenomenal. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 changes all of that and brings Tekken back to its glory days of solid gameplay accompanied by an experience that is worthwhile.
Like the previous Tekken Tag Tournament, tag teams are the standard in this entry. During fights, you can utilize your partner in special attacks like Tag Assaults and Tag Throws, or just tag in to let one of your fighters catch their breath and regenerate some health. Like its predecessor, the tag team format is a fun addition to the already solid solo fighting and it warrants experimenting to find your best team that compliments your playstyle.
The fighting is as fluid and enjoyable as ever and each character feels just as unique as the next, something that has stayed the same, for the better, for the whole series. You will more than likely find one or two characters that compliment how you like to play, but trying out several of the many fighters available never gets old. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 boasts the biggest roster of any Tekken game to date, with over 50 fighters to choose from, from old favorites like Jin, Heihachi, and Paul, to some returning strangers like Angel and Ogre.
Much like the last Tekken Tag Tournament, Tekken Tag 2 doesn’t really have a story like the other Tekken games. The smallest semblance of a story is in the Fight Lab mode where you play as Combot. Essentially your training mode, Fight Lab teaches you all the basics from movement, to juggling, to breaking walls and floors, and even tag teaming. Short and lacking in the animation department, Fight Lab is a great introduction into the mechanics of Tekken and will be a good mode for beginners. Since it also acts as a “create a fighter” in a way, veterans will also find plenty to like about it. After you complete the five stages of training, you can use points you’ve earned to unlock moves from other characters and customize your own Combot however you like. It’s actually quite fun, pretty addictive, and very rewarding when you take him into the arena.
With no real story, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 instead focuses on giving gamers plenty of modes to keep them busy. Recent entries may have jaded some players with the series by having less-than-stellar options for their single player modes, but Tekken Tag 2 fixes all that with some great single player options that stay true to Tekken’s spectacular fighting engine. Online matches are easy to find. You can search for a ranked match, or a match that doesn’t affect your standings. You can go solo or choose your two favorite fighters for tag team, or even partner with another online player. It is a bit basic, but it works in the end, allowing you quick access the fights you want.
In the offline modes, Survival and Time Attack return, as does Ghost Battle, a great alternative if you get bored in Arcade Mode, as it lets you take on “ghost” teams and fighters (fighters and teams designed to play just like the human players the data was collected from). Each mode has just enough to keep you occupied if you get bored with the others and plenty of challenges to keep things interesting.
As always, Arcade lets you take your best team or single fighter through the ranks until you defeat the endgame bosses, but now you can earn cash in the process, which you can use to customize your favorite characters with hundreds of unique, cool, and ridiculous apparel items. If you want to add a bit of personality to your fighter before you send them off to battle others in the online modes, then this is where you need to be. This makes online play very interesting as most gamers will have outfitted their favorite fighter or tag team as well.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is solid, fun, gorgeous, and packed with plenty of modes to keep you fighting for a while. The great mechanics that have made it so successful are still there, and the options to keep you playing are back with some much needed variety. Fans will eat up the returning characters long forgotten, and newcomers will love being able to jump in and play with so many options to choose from, and a great tutorial to show them the easy to grasp ropes. The online play may not be quite as deep as you want, but if you’re looking for a superior fighting engine with plenty to keep you busy, then look no further.