Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is probably the best and most complete Tekken game ever released.  Now here’s what you get – over 50 playable characters, tag team fighting, smooth online matches and Snoop Dogg.  Tekken has played underdog to the Street Fighter franchise since its inception.  2012 is a good year for the Tekken franchise to dethrone its competitors for two reasons; 1) Street Fighter X Tekken was a fine game but not an awesome game and 2) Tekken Tag Tournament 2 delivers on most of its promises.

CHARACTERS:  On the plus side – over 50 playable characters, now that’s a huge roaster!  Namco Bandai promises not to charge for DLC characters in the future and their pre-order incentive characters are expected to be available soon to everyone.  On the downside – most Tekken characters are forgettable and to the outside gamer looking in most likely not even recognizable.  We’ll most likely see a handful of ‘top tier’ characters used in tournaments – it’ll be interesting to see how balance works itself out as the game progresses in popularity.

TRAINING: Tekken Tag 2 introduces ‘Fight Lab‘ – which is a campaign-like tutorial meant to welcome new-comers to Tekken gameplay and mechanics.  In the Fight Lab you are a ‘Combot‘ drone in training – the tutorial covers just about everything a new player would need to digest.  While Fight Lab is a great addition to get new players up to speed within a few hours – we questioned the decision to make the tutorial in Japanese with subtitles.  We’re pretty sure the idea in Fight Lab was to draft new players into the mix but would have preferred a more universal interface – like a language choice/option before getting started.

TAG TEAM PLAY: This is probably the BIGGEST selling point of the game and most impressive.  The last time our jaws dropped for any tag team fighting game was in Mortal Kombat – unfortunately two on two MK matches never seemed to flourish in the competitive gaming world.  With Tekken Tag 2 you can expect to see plenty of tag matches and crazy combo moves between the four characters on-screen.  What we’ve seen so far reminds us in many ways of championship level tag team wrestling – in which one person sets up the opponent for a move and has his partner finish them off or even better when both characters come on screen for a two person combo attack.

Each combination of two characters will offer a variety of tag team moves and assists and they are a treat to watch.  Two things that did drive us crazy about tag team play — no sound effect or music cue when tagging a partner in or out of the screen and even worse – no on-screen display of your tag partner when not fighting.  Call us crazy but competitive gaming is huge and being a spectator myself – I like to be able to tell what’s happening in the game at a glance and not being able to see which two characters are facing each other head-to-head at any time is a BIG disappointment.  Also, no sound effect when a partner tags into battle just seems like a mistake in development or cutting corners.

WORLD TEKKEN FEDERATION:  Tekken has been working on an extremely impressive premium service dubbed World Tekken Federation in which all of your scores, moves, tags, matches, ranks, whatever are stored and calculated on their server for other plays to view and analyze.  Just imagine this as the ‘Fantasy Football League of Fighting Games’ – our demonstration of this interface not long ago opened up doors to endless possibilities.  Tekken is saying to gamers ‘hey, we want you guys to compete and improve’ and that support is greatly appreciated.  The World Tekken Federation launched with the game and is accessible to those who own a copy of the game – we’ll be curious to see how this factors into tournament play throughout the life cycle of the game.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is available now for the Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3.  We’ve provided tons of gameplay videos from Matt Lewis so make sure to check those out!

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