| The Good
Lots of variety in fighters and styles
Easy to pick up and play
| The Bad
Practice and Training could use some work
New features don't add much to game play
Tekken 4 is the fifth entry in Namco's flagship fighting
series (Tekken Tag Tournament being the fourth), and
while not quite a huge leap forward, there are enough new
additions to make this more than just "Tekken 3.5".
The first and most noticeable new additions are the completely
3-D movement and the enclosed arenas, both a first for the
series. Previous versions allowed limited movement in 3-D
by way of the sidestep feature, which is still in place here,
but now you can move about freely in any direction a la Soul
Calibur or DOA 3. The new arenas
are mostly small and compact, with various walls, pillars,
statues, railings and other objects to smash your opponents
into. Fortunately, wall-reversals were also added, keeping
players from exploiting endless wall juggles and combos. Also
new is the addition of different levels of ground, making
certain moves more or less effective, depending on where you
Of course, no fighting game sequel would be complete without
new characters, and there are three additions to the Tekken
roster. Christie Montiero uses the Capoera fighting style,
seen first by Eddie in Tekken 3, but with a few new
moves thrown in and easier on the eyes. Craig Marduk uses
the brutal Vale Tudo style, and is the requisite "big slow
powerful" character. The most interesting new addition comes
in the form of Steve Fox, a boxer who has no kicks, but more
than makes up for that with quick punch combos and the ability
to duck and weave around enemy attacks.
Namco decided to cut a lot of the series' similar-style fighters
from this game, but make up for it by adding new moves to
each of the returning characters. The roster has been trimmed
to around 20 characters, with a couple of hidden, costume-swap
characters. Each fighter has a distinct fighting style, and
most have well over 100 different moves. The game comes with
a helpful practice and training mode to teach you those moves,
although both could have been improved a bit. Training mode
gives you 20 moves to complete in the shortest time possible,
but there is no real incentive to use this mode, as nothing
is unlocked by setting records. Practice mode has all the
moves available to view and a handy demonstration of how to
perform each one, but you must pause the game to view them.
It would have been best if Namco could have combined both
modes, allowing you to practice moves with the help text on-screen.
Other modes include the standard Arcade, Time Attack, Survival,
and Versus. New to the series is Story Mode, which gives you
a small back-story on the fighters told through hand-drawn
cutscenes, and ends with a full CG ending for each character.
As with past games in the series, the end cinemas are well
done, and serve to give you a reason to play through the game
other than a simple high score. Also returning from Tekken
3 is Tekken Force Mode, which is open from the beginning.
Playing like a cross between Tekken and Streets
of Rage, you choose from any of the characters in the
game and fight through 4 side-scrolling levels. Each level
throws waves of enemies at you, but you can collect food in
the form of chickens to stay alive. If you can manage to finish
all 4 levels, a new arena will be made available for use in
multiplayer matches. Not much of a reward, but since the entire
mode is an extra anyway it isn't a huge issue.
Graphically, Tekken 4 is quite good-looking. The character
models are all well animated and their moves link together
seamlessly. Clothing and hair move realistically, and many
levels have great water and lighting effects. Namco has always
delivered quality cinemas, and Tekken 4 is no exception,
with an action-packed opening movie and individual ending
movies for each fighter.
Sound effects and music in the game are well done. Throws
are delivered with bone-crunching sound effects, and the trademark
Tekken "smash" sound accompanies each kick and punch. The
music is quite varied, with tracks ranging from rock to jazz
to techno, and many of the characters have been given voice
taunts for pre and post match poses.
There are a few problems however, and a couple of them may
be enough to turn some gamers away. First, the basic game
really isn't much different from the last games in the series.
Second, the new characters really aren't that great, aside
from Steve Fox, you've got a slow powerhouse much like Jack,
and a prettier version of Eddie. Lastly, the walled arenas
and the uneven surfaces don't really add much to the game,
they seem to have been included simply to add something new
to the series.
Overall, if you are a fan of past games, you will most likely
enjoy this new addition to the Tekken series. There are plenty
of returning bits that you'll enjoy, and enough new features
to move the series ahead, if only a little. Those who have
never played the series before will also find plenty to like,
as the controls are easy to learn and there are enough options
to keep you playing for weeks.
- - Darken Rahl