Tekken 7 Review

June 4, 2017

new Tekken 7 trailer

It seems like an odd comparison to draw but the Tekken series, to me at least, has always had a reverse Star Trek thing going on. No, really! It’s a well-known quirk that the Star Trek movies have an odd/even rule – every even numbered film is enjoyable and memorable, with every odd movie less so. I’ve always found the opposite to be true for the Tekken series – 1, 3 and 5 have all been excellent mainstays that have lasted as mainstays for my buddies, while 2, 4 and 6 kind of faded from memory. It’s a good thing, then, that we’re finally due for another odd-numbered Tekken game, as Tekken 7 has finally come out for current-gen platforms and for the first time, PC.

Tekken 7 promises a lot. It’s the most technically advanced Tekken game to be released yet, and the first for the new line of systems. In the marketing, the developers have hyped this as the end of the Mishima feud saga (to which the Tekken fandom collectively responded “Yeah, right.”). It’s also made the strange choice to include guest character Akuma from Street Fighter as an integral part of not just the game, but the overarching canonical storyline as well.

Speaking of the story, Tekken 7 actually includes a fully fleshed-out story campaign, with long cutscenes and changes in perspective that have clearly been inspired by NetherRealm Studio’s Mortal Kombat and Injustice games. If you’ve played Tekken before, especially in the last decade, then you know what you’re in for – a world where giant, global wars take place, yet everyone still fights in ordered hand-to-hand combat; almost every important character being the head of a giant organisation with unlimited funds; super-demon transformations where fighters fire laser beams out of their skulls. To its credit, Tekken 7 tries, in its own scattered way, to make sense of all of this mess by focusing on the series’ most enduring character, Heihachi Mishima, and the origin of his feud with his son, Kazuya – as well as bringing that feud to a conclusion.

This focus on Heihachi means that you’d better be an expert with him, as he sees the lion’s share of the action in the campaign. I have never been able to get the hang of him, which meant I had a pretty bad time, but I do appreciate the optional sub-episodes that open up as you journey through, with short missions with other characters like Yoshimitsu, Eddy Gordo and even Panda and Kuma. The main story is short, lasting only about four hours or so, but it can get frustrating at times on harder difficulties, as certain characters (looking at you, Devil-types) aren’t afraid to spam cheap attacks or one-hit kill moves.

Of course, the Story is just part of the fantasy the developers have that Tekken has any kind of coherent story, and the real attraction is the technical gameplay of the Tekken series. Certain changes have been made since Tekken 6, removing Bound bounces in place of Screw Attacks and reduced damage scaling for combos. However, most interesting and exciting are the new ‘Rage’ Arts and super moves, which activate once your life bar gets dangerously low. These can turn the tide of battle – like everything in Tekken 7, they’re accessible enough for newcomers to activate, but knowing precisely when and how to use them is just as important. Not only does this help keep matches tense the entire time for players, they seem to have been expertly geared to make fights more enjoyable to watch for audiences and tournaments – as the camera zooms in and time slows down at a crucial moment, after inputs have already been processed, keeping everyone in suspense as to who exactly got across the line.

The new characters feel right at home in the Tekken roster. The standout is, of course, Akuma from Street Fighter who has been brought across complete with his own exclusive EX bar, and he works excellently in Tekken. It feels more natural than it should throwing a Shoryuken up someone’s nose in the Tekken universe, and his inclusion revives my long-dormant excitement for the on-hold Tekken x Street Fighter project. Lucky Chloe and Shaheen are probably my other two favourites, respectively showing the silliness and the bad-assness the Tekken roster is known for. I also love that Yoshimitsu is a straight-up squid monster (?) now.

Online, netcode seems to have been improved, and you’re able to search for opponents by their connection strength, which also helps alleviate issues. Offline, aside from the Story mode, players can also tackle the traditional Arcade mode, as well as ‘Treasure’ mode, to pursue in-game Fight Money to unlock some of the really cool bonuses on offer. Tekken 7 is really into celebrating the series as a whole, and actually comes with the soundtracks for all previous games on PS4 in ‘Jukebox’ mode, as well as all cutscenes from past games as unlockables. Customisation options for characters can also be purchased, although these seem a little more limited than in Tekken 6.

On PS4, a VR mode is also available for PlayStation VR – but it’s an extremely barebones feature. You aren’t placed in the character’s POV, but can instead select a variety of side-views, as if you were watching the match from a short distance away. The gameplay itself essentially amounts to a practice mode in a pretty, but non-selectable environment, where you can take a character out for a spin to beat up an AI character, who can fight back but never damage you. It feels like an early tech demo for PSVR from E3, and I honestly would have preferred the return of a different ‘wacky’ add-on like Tekken Ball or Tekken Bowl.

With a robust roster, challenging and technical gameplay that’s also accessible to newcomers, and plenty of content to keep you occupied both online and offline, Tekken 7 is an easy pick if you’re after a new fighting game to master. With the renewed focus on e-sports and tournaments, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tekken 7 enjoys a fair bit of longevity in the fighting game scene, and deservedly so, as it’s the most fun I’ve had with a Tekken title in ages.


- Rage makes fights more entertaining to play and watch
- The technical gameplay is better than ever offline and online
- Akuma is a great addition to the roster
- Lots of treats for fans of the entire series


- The narrative is just as ridiculous as ever
- Story mode can get cheap on harder difficulties
- On PS4, VR mode is a bit of a joke

Overall Score: