Ttt2 Header

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 hands-on

[PS3, Xbox 360 and Arcade versions were played for the purposes of this preview.]

Once seen as the undisputed champion of 3D fighters, the Tekken series brought arcade-level gameplay, visuals and performance to the comfort of your sofa, with the only change seeming to be switching the ‘Insert Coin’ banner for ‘Press Start’ on title screens.

For years, Tekken reigned supreme on the Sony consoles, but a few other series have taken the focus from the finely-honed, in-depth and intricate experience that Namco’s (now Namco-Bandai) fighter delivered. Instead, we were treated to visual spectacles in the form of copious amounts of violence, bouncing assets and some dubious (and scarcely there) outfits for some of the more titular characters in the those titles. With a market flooded by identikit fighters and the public’s switching of interests to the likes of the Call of Duty series over the years, the humble arcade 3D fighter has somewhat lost its luster. Hopefully, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (TTT2) will be able to change all that with the upcoming port of the popular arcade iteration later this summer.

The Tekken brand may have been quiet over the last few years, but Namco-Bandai hasn’t been resting on their laurels whilst Capcom released their Tekken-infused roster with Street Fighter X Tekken. Instead, they have been quietly porting over their latest arcade (Japan-only for now) fighter, TTT2, and I have had a chance to sit down and play with it.

Improving on the tag combat element of the original Tekken Tag Tournament, this latest instalment brings the option to have one-on-one fighting and solo fighter vs. a tag team for some fun match-ups. Making a return are modes many will already be familiar with: Arcade, Versus, Time Trial and Survival. There is also the inclusion of a new mode called Fight Lab, putting you in control of a Combot where you will be taught the moves of the characters through various stages. There is even a story – not in the Oscar Wilde sense of things, but enough of a lure to entice you without it seeming like the archetypal Tutorial seen in other fighting games.

It’s not just the modes that have been amped up; so has the roster count. TTT2 will enter the fray with no less than 50 characters, featuring many returning fan favourite characters as well as a few new ones. TTT2 really is pulling out all the stops to be as comprehensive and fully-featured out of the gate, unlike that other well-known fighting game (that has just made the leap into the 3D realm in recent years) which stung its fanbase repeatedly with its DLC-heavy approach. The range of characters ensures that there will be a style to suit everyone and also present an opportunity to experiment with vastly differing styles within the game’s tag element.


But the real reason we all play Tekken and why many will look forward to this new iteration of the consistent series will be for the multiplayer. Namco-Bandai know exactly what their fanbase wants and they give it in abundance, injecting ingenuity into the series whilst keeping the spirit of the game intact. In Tag Mode, you can play any of the variations from 2-vs-2, 1-vs-1, to 1-vs-2 in whichever way you like, allowing you to switch your fighter at any time during the fight to force your opponent(s) to adapt their fighting style to whomever enters the fray. Characters who take damage and are then “tagged-out” recover some of their health in the time off-screen, making for some interesting juggling tactics to be utilised not just in an attacking sense, but a defensive approach also. Special techniques such as tag-throws and juggled combos can also be countered if your timing is good enough, and it will need to be to combat the button bashers and the seasoned pros.

Visually the game looks and moves on par with its arcade counterpart – by this I mean it looks fantastic. The colours are vibrant with a wide spectrum in use from the characters to the backgrounds. It is a cacophony that melts into a wonderful visual spectacle. Moving at what must be a swift 60 frames per second, the action does not let up nor does it slow down, even with the constant switching between characters. The only loss in any visual fidelity would be in the backgrounds which lose resolution due to the onus on maintaining a frenetic and smooth framerate within the hardware constraints. Yet, they still remain interesting, exciting and are also interactive much of the time. One of the standout stages of the game I played would be without a doubt the Snoop Dogg stage. Snoop Dogg even recorded a track specifically for the game and this can be heard booming in the background, further characterised by his legendary Lowrider with hydraulics and his harem of beauties.

Crucially for a fighting game, the controls are where it is at, and TTT2 does not disappoint. Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions perform admirably and respond exactly as you would expect, both with the controller and the arcade sticks. It helped that I could get up and walk across the room to the actual arcade version of the game (imported from Japan for the occasion) and compare exactly how well the game has been ported.

Personally, I hadn’t really put a significant amount of time into any of the Tekken games since Tekken 3, which for me was the series high. Coming back to the series properly after all this time has so far felt like a breath of fresh air. Maybe it is the hiatus, or maybe it is the new features and increased honing of the game that make it so. Whatever it is, I anticipate being able to play the final version of the game when it hits the UK and the rest of Europe this September. Fighting games may have lost much of their luster in recent years, but Namco-Bandai really do have a gem on their hands: a game that packs visual spectacle, impressive stage and character design, and without a doubt a definitively memorable experience just waiting to be unleashed unto the masses. I await the finished article with baited breath.