Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Review

Player(s): 1-4
Extra Features: Local Multiplayer (1-4), Online Multiplayer (2-6 players), Download Content, Leaderboards

The original Tekken Tag Tournament was released shortly after Tekken 3 hit arcades and included a huge roster of characters from Tekken 1-3. The game featured tag fighting gameplay that emphasized strategic use of both characters in order to defeat an opponent since a round could be won by knocking out one fighter as opposed to a fight to the death with an entire team like in many other tag fighting games around that time. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 continues the traditional two-on-two fighting from the original game and adds several more characters to the cast from Tekken 4-6.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is an upgraded version of the Japanese arcade version that was released last year. The game includes all characters from Tekken 6 along with just about any other character from past Tekkens. From the start, Tekken Tag 2 includes nearly 50 characters. Kazuya, Jin, Heihachi, Paul, Steve, both Laws, Nina, Anna, and all other fan favorites are represented in Tekken Tag 2. Once all of the upcoming download content has been released, just about all characters from the Tekken Universe will be available in the game.

The game looks fantastic with its highly detailed character models and environments. Tekken Tag 2 has some of the best fighting arenas I have seen in a fighter in some time. It's like every portion of the surroundings have some sort of eye candy or movement. All of the stages feel very unique and satisfying. Sunny beaches, fountains, restaurants, snowfields, a ship - there is a lot of diversity in the stages here! Some of the stages have dropoffs and multiple (breakable) floors kind of like in Dead or Alive. Just about all stages have some sort of wall for wall hits also. Characters can get dirty or get drenched in water and it actually shows on their model when they rise. The announcer has a lively voice and the overall soundtrack has a few memorable tunes.

Once again, the game emphasizes two-on-two fighting and there is also an option for solo fighting. Character health amounts are changed when controlling one character - basically a team of two characters will be weaker separately compared to a team of one character. Along with the rage mode from Tekken 6, the game also has a few new tag moves that can be done. A move known as a Tag Crash can be performed when a player is on the ground and the partner is in rage mode. A Tag Crash allows a player to instantly tag out as the partner falls in with an attack. The tag out player forfeits his/her recoverable health, but this can greatly help out for near death situations. A player can still perform combos with both characters by tagging them in and out while juggling an opponent as well.

For offline mode, the game features an arcade battle, ghost battle, VS battle, team battle, time attack, survival, practice, pair play and fight lab. The arcade battle is the standard arcade brawl against several opponents leading up to the final boss. Just about all characters in the game have an FMV ending that can be seen by completing arcade. The FMV endings in Tekken Tag 2 are much like they were in past Tekken games - either an instant hit or just ok - but at least they all have work put into them. Once again, there is no real story to the game besides the ending and a few minor cutscenes here and there. VS battle, team battle, time attack, and practice are just like they were in previous Tekken installments.

Ghost battle is where offline players will most likely spend most of their time. This mode is much like Virtua Fighter 4's Kumite mode. A player will face off against several customized fighters in a battle for ranking. Ghost battle is never-ending so there is always a new opponent after each match. Character endings, gold and extra customizable parts can be unlocked through Ghost battle. Pair play allows for up to four players to team up in teams of two and battle out matches - basically, you and a friend can be on one team against another pair of friends. Pair play is offline only.

Fight Lab is the new training mode in Tekken Tag 2. Players will control Combot and have to perform various training exercises in order to progress. Fight lab has a story that involves Violet (Lee Chaolin) and his assistant. Basically, you control Combot and play through training exercises that Lee asks you to perform. The training missions start out basic with simple punches and kicks then lead into more complicated tasks such as countering attacks and throws. The mode has boss battles where you must use what you have learned so far to face off against customized character bosses. Each task must be completed, so if you come across a task that you can't perform, you are stuck! Fight lab literally feels like more of a chore toward the end of it rather than a refreshing story experience. The story is basically only interesting when jokes are made between Lee and his assistant.

Tekken Tag 2 allows a player to customize any of the existing fighters. It has several customizable parts that can be bought or unlocked and placed on your fighter. Head, upper body, lower body, feet and many other areas can all be changed to your liking. The problem that I find with the customization in the game is that many fighters share the same customizable parts. Hardly any part feels unique like in other fighters such as Virtua Fighter 5. The customization is still fun to play around with however and your customized creation can be taken online as usual.

Online mode has the usual modes that fighting game fans of come to expect - ranked matches and player matches. Player matches are available in a lobby format where players can hang out in a lobby and watch current fights with the spectator option. The online fighting seemed to play out smoothly with minimal or no lag whenever I tried online fights. Both online and offline modes have their own ranking systems so you can't build up your rank online then go online with a high rank. Gold can be won during online fights in order to buy more customizable items for your characters. There is also a replay mode (Tekken Channel) that allows you to view replays of each character from online battles. You can load up your own existing replays as well.

The controls are still just as easy and precise as past Tekkens. The Xbox 360 controller with transforming D-pad worked well for me, but I'm sure most will prefer the PS3 controller or joystick. Tekken has such an addicting gameplay style that no other fighting game can compare to if you ask me and Tekken Tag 2 is no exception. The game still plays just like you would expect it to from the more current Tekkens and it includes just about any fighter you can think of. Tekken games are truly brought to life with a tag system and Tekkent Tag 2 easily shows this! If you're a fan of Tekken fighting games, you should definitely pick up this fighter since it will last you quite a while!

The Good:
+ Stage variety is excellent
+ Huge cast of characters from the Tekken universe
+ Usual Tekken fighting gameplay still holds up well

The Bad:
- Fight Lab gets boring very quickly
- Character customization parts need more variety

Final Rating: 85%. It has been a long wait for another Tekken Tag Tournament game, but the wait was well worth it!


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