Tekken 7: Fated Retribution – Makes a good fist of it

When it first laced up in 1994, Tekken was a knockout, a big-hitter not only in its genre division, but the games industry entire. The reach of this franchise has receded as of late though, as it’s slowly been backed into a corner with the former-heavyweight likes of Streeties and MK.

Now, thanks to the loaded subtitle “Fated Retribution”, it’s clear this series is finally reaching a head in Tekken 7. The Mishima on Mishima, father v father violence must end. And by end, Namco Bandai means: continue in earnest.

Anybody who’s played Tekken 6 will not be in unfamiliar territory here as there are only a few new concepts to grasp. The ‘Bound’ mechanic that let you double-dribble people into nasty combos has been reined in by way of a Screw mechanic.

It’s nowhere near as dirty as it sounds – it just sends your victims into a nasty lateral spin which stymies their ability to tech roll and recover. Your lil’ bastard’s toolkit of trickery also includes ricocheting victims off obstacles with the Stage Effects from TTT2, and you can also Power Crush: momentarily shrug off high/mid attacks to deck your enemy in one hit. Is that worth taking the damage to do? Your call, tough guy.

Speaking of new things, you should probably go in knowing that Rage is all the… rage in Tekken 7. You’ve got a Rage Mode which gives you an opportunity to table-turn when your life is shredded down to 25%. You’ll do this via Rage Drives (combos which can be roided up to do extra damage). Or there are Rage Arts, fancy cinematic beatdowns that can wipe of 1/3 of your foe’s life.

As for cuts, Team Battle and Survival mode have been needlessly shit-canned, plus it seems we’ve lost some old roster favourites for the sake of broader international diversity. Bruce, Lei, Anna and Craig have gone the way of the dodo. Josie, Claudio, Shaheen, Kazumi, Gigas, and Katarina are in (not to mention the special guest star Akuma).

These FNGs adequately cover the styles and strengths of the superior characters they’re replacing, but we’ve yet to spot any new personal favourites among them. You could probably put that down to sentimentality and nostalgia on our behalf.

After triple-digit hours of play, we can say the online battlefield and combatants seem to be quite well balanced at this juncture, but the solo-play offerings don’t fare as well. The story mode on offer comes and goes in two hours and it feels antiquated and linear compared to something like Injustice 2.

Likewise, the VR Battle and VR viewer modes are woefully threadbare on options and are just poorly conceived ways to watch a little bit closer from the sidelines. Forget your hopes and dreams of bonafide POV pugilism.

Despite Tekken the piss with those minor disappointments, Bandai Namco has nevertheless knuckled down to deliver a fighter that’s got it where it counts: in the near endlessly-replayable fighting.

The biff is beautiful and balanced, the online code is sound as you pound, too. This may be a large dash-step behind the generous content found in its closest rival, Netherrealm’s Injustice 2, but Tekken 7 still represents a knuckle sandwich we’ll happily chew on for months to come.

Score: 8/10

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