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Tekken 7 Review (PS4): Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind

We review Tekken 7 on the PS4, the latest entry in the long-running beat ’em up franchise, and one of the most accessible.

Although Tekken 7 has the scope to be staggeringly complex, this fast-paced fighter title somehow still manages to be just about accessible to anyone hoping to button mash their way to victory, while that huge amount of unlockables give you something to constantly come back to beyond the main story line. In a time where very good fighting games are twenty a penny, the King of iron fist will not be overlooked.

On the surface, Tekken 7 is of course very familiar. That chop-socky martial arts inspired fighting takes place on a variety of gorgeous 3D stages, which allow you to move to your opponent’s left or right to evade those blisteringly quick attacks. Every movement has to be carefully considered; carelessly rushing in or aimlessly jumping about the place can lead to a whole world of hurt.

A brief single player campaign called The Machima Saga delves into the rather unhealthy relationship in the Machima household (i.e fathers and sons on an endless quest to murder each other). Although Tekken 7’s storyline does a pretty good job of documenting the history of the war-torn clan, some may find the story a wee bit cliche. Nothing too new there, then.

Where Tekken 7 truly shines is in its customisation options, which really elevates this game into a class of its own. Cosmetics are modifiable on an unparalleled level, including attack effects, colourful auras and multiple alternative costumes that can be mixed and matched at will. It’s a true triumph for self expression, as you can make the most hardened fighter look utterly badass, or utterly ridiculous. 

Underneath those admirable cosmetic changes, a few tweaks to the combat system help to encourage those new to the series. The movement places more emphasis on short and middle-range attacks. Carefully considered side steps can create devastating openings to unleash some horrifically brutal combos. New damage scaling means a long punishing combo doesn’t necessarily leave you with a fifth of your power bar, however. All the same, finding yourself cornered or pinned down and shunning that block button is far from advised.

Another addition worth noting is the Rage Mode, which may have been borrowed from the likes of the Injustice series and Mortal Kombat. This allows you to trigger a powerful combo when your health drops below a certain level. While far from original, Rage Mode sure is a great way to even the odds and can easily be performed by simultaneously hitting the left and right shoulder buttons. 

That’s not to say Tekken 7 isn’t still one of the most technical fighting games you are likely to come across in 2017. Those subtle changes to the mechanics mean that veterans may need to rethink past strategies for sure, as the damage scaling renders combo chains not quite as effective. Likewise, if you’re playing against someone who knows what they’re doing, button mash tactics are unlikely to work.

Not many games out there impart the feeling of organic fighting quite like Tekken, and Tekken 7 is the best offering in the series yet for this natural free-flowing fight action.

Online multiplayer with a solid connection offers smooth frame rates and playback, although we did experience the odd drop out in connection, possibly a result of our test WiFi. In between match pairing, Tekken 7 also lets you practice in a training room area while you are waiting for a connection. Very handy when thinking up strategies you may want to employ in the upcoming battle, or to remind yourself of your character’s moves list. 

Tekken 7 is truly a remarkable beat ’em up. It’s a fighting game that has been crafted with obvious care and hence manages to strike a balance between being accessible to newcomers as well retaining the technical traditions that are synonymous with the franchise. The soundtrack is a treat and whilst the story line can be a bit cliche, it never takes itself too seriously. Tekken 7’s attention to the details ensure it will be one of this year’s front-running fighting games. 

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