By: Matt C. on September 26, 2002
When Tekken Tag Tournament was launched with the PlayStation 2 back in 2000, most people welcomed it with open arms. However, hardcore Tekken fans itched for a true sequel to Tekken 3. It has taken 2 years, but that sequel is finally here in the form of Tekken 4.
As with Tekken Tag Tournament, Namco has kept the gameplay relatively unchanged from the previous Tekken. The four-button control scheme, blocking and combo system are all basically the same. This is certainly good news for folks who are already accustomed to Tekken's controls. However, there are some minor improvements that fans will enjoy as well.
First of all, most stages have grown in size considerably and they are now enclosed. The addition of walls and other solid objects (some of which can be destroyed) are great. In one level, you can knock your opponent into phone booths for extra damage. Luckily, if you find yourself on the verge of getting trapped and pounded against a wall, you can execute a "position change" with your opponent. This switches places with your enemy and allows you do dish out massive damage with the help of a wall. Of course, the position change technique can be evaded as well.
There are over 20 fighters in Tekken 4, with four of them being new to the series. One new character, named Steve Fox, is a boxer who cannot kick but he has great speed and agility. Eddy Gordo is still in the game (you have to unlock him first though), but he is initially replaced by Christie Montiero, who shares the same unique fighting style as him.
All in all, there are a total of 9 modes in Tekken 4 -- story battle, arcade, time attack, VS battle, team battle, survival, practice, training, and Tekken Force. The Tekken Force mode, which plays similar to The Bouncer or Streets of Rage, has been updated and improved from Tekken 3. The goal is to simply fight your way through various levels by defeating wave after wave of faceless thugs until you reach the stage boss. Sure, it's very repetitive, but it still manages to provide some enjoyment.
As for the graphics, Tekken 4 is nothing short of stunning. Each fighter has smoother animations and more detail than the previous game. The stages are equally impressive, with some of them sporting backgrounds that seem to be photorealistic at times. And as far as I can tell, flickering and aliasing problems are nonexistent. However, if you visit the options menu and change the picture quality from "soft" to "sharp", you will encounter some minor flickering during battles. Lastly, Tekken 4 supports televisions with progressive scan output.
Unfortunately, despite amazing visuals, Tekken 4 suffers form a major lack of ingenuity. Yes, Namco has made improvements, but to be honest, it's time for them to really overhaul and evolve the series. I hate to say it, but Virtua Fighter 4 is a much deeper game.
With that said, I still think Tekken 4 is a really solid fighting game. The game is filled with cool characters, beautiful levels, and loads of extra that are sure to keep you busy for quite a while. Tekken 4 is worth a purchase, but I just hope that the good folks at Namco really push the envelope in the next game.