Tekken 7 Review – The Path Most Tekken

Tekken 7 is very much the same as every Tekken game that came before it. That’s not an inherently bad thing, but it does feel like the series’ refusal to innovate may be beginning to catch up with it.

Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Format: PC (reviewed), PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One
Released: June 2, 2017
Copy provided by publisher to freelancer 

If you’re just hoping for more of the Tekken fighting game system you’ll find it in Tekken 7 and it’s as mechanically solid as it ever was, but if you were hoping for series growth and innovation you won’t find much of it here.

Having reviewed Injustice 2 just a few short weeks ago, a game that told a compelling story with high production values and naturally woven in combat in its story mode, Tekken 7’s story mode feels disappointingly flat by comparison.

Fights in story mode are awkwardly linked by a narrative that constantly teases answers to questions long time fans have been asking without ever actually giving those answers, while simultaneously failing to give enough interesting plot hooks to draw in players new to the series. As a result, the whole narrative seems destined to disappoint players of both perspectives.

Plot threads are set up that lead nowhere, characters are wedged into the story without progressing it just so they can take part in fights, and the few answers players are given often provide deeply unrewarding conclusions that fail to live up to their hype filled setups. Considering story has always been more prominent in Tekken than its contemporaries, this lack of resolution in a story pegged as the conclusion to a long running narrative is disappointing.

Also disappointing, many of the story mode fights consist of fighting waves of identical generic enemies, one after the other, with a single loss pushing you back to the start of the string of encounters.

On all difficulty modes, Story Mode not only allows but encourages using shortcut keys to activate flashy special moves and progress without using the combos you would normally need to in other game modes. The problem with this is that most fighting game story modes provide a useful environment to test out and learn the ropes of characters for new players. By encouraging these shortcut specials, story mode discourages learning how to effectively use the full roster, which is usually half the appeal of a fighting game story mode.

The main story mode in Tekken 7 focuses almost exclusively on the series’ returning cast of characters, relegating new playable characters to side story missions that lack the quality of presentation or attempted lore weaving of the main story. It’s a shame, because by shunting these new characters aside it’s somewhat ensured the fresh faces will fail to mesh properly into the overall Tekken arc.

Both returning and new additions to the roster fit together well mechanically and provide a good level of balance. Akuma makes the leap from Street Fighter to Tekken and doesn’t seem too out of place, but does feel a little gimmicky when placed alongside the rest of the roster. There’s barely a weak link in the cast, which is likely a result of refining the series over this many entries.

The core combat system in Tekken 7 is still relatively unchanged, which isn’t entirely a negative thing. There’s still an amazing feeling of weight and impact to collisions that’s unmatched by many fighters, there’s still room to fumble and keep your distance while learning the ropes and everything about the visual presentation in combat still sends the message that every player is a powerful badass.

The only real change to the combat system in 7 is the addition of Rage Mode, where players with low health are able to activate what is essentially a Super Move from Street Fighter, a move designed to allow losing players to claw back towards victory and keep wins tighter, but otherwise it’s the same Tekken combat it has been for years.

You can also sacrifice Rage Mode for a Rage Driver (moves powered up by sacrificing that potential super move usage) or activate a Rage Crush, powering through enemy attacks without getting staggered, but still taking damage from hits landed on you. These are yet more ways to last minute turn the tide of a fight, but they do not effect the pacing of the bulk of a given fight.

Otherwise Tekken 7’s offerings as a package are fairly slim. Online functioned well on launch day with minimal lag and fast ranked matchmaking, with a fairly standard and unexciting selection of game modes. On PS4 there’s a VR mode that allows you to watch the fights play out on a giant cinema screen, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Honestly, Tekken 7 is a content predictable fighting game surviving off the back of it’s relatively unchanged combat system.

While that core combat is still strong, I’m personally getting a bit weary of Tekken relying on it’s barely changed core combat to keep it relevant in a world where fighting games are fast evolving into vastly more rounded products. Tekken 7’s combat isn’t bad, it’s just a bit stagnant, and I don’t know how much longer it can get away with that reliance on not fixing what ain’t broke.

I like this entry, but this is probably the last entry that can get away with this.

7/10
Good

Marcus Terrell
Member

Tekken’s gameplay has always been the best, hence why they’re the all time leader in sales for a fighting franchise. Why change it? There’s already been changes in the gameplay, probably more now since Tekken 4. Injustice gameplay is gimmicky, with annoying projectile spam, Tekken is a true fighter that takes real skill.

voidofopinion
Guest
voidofopinion

I want to say first of all I respect both Jim and Laura as people. Both are great entertainers who provide interesting perspectives on the games they review and they are not afraid to buck a trend. With that said, reviews are not about the reviewer being “right” about a game but about being right for you. You find a set of reviewers who share your taste and then you use their reviews as toe in the pool to test the water. After the Persona 5, Street FIghter 5, Injustice 2 and Tekken 7 reviews, I have come to find… Read more »

game_boy
Member

Bought Tekken 7 expecting more Tekken. Not disappointed in the least. Wish that each character had their own story card ending/cutscene like in past Tekkens, but they actually changed the game and gave it a singular story for once. So that is a rather big departure for the series IMO.

GauzeCage
Guest
GauzeCage

I’m a little sad that by the lack of a tutorial and character ladders but fighting games with actual real world forms of martial arts appeal to me more than something like Street Fighter or Injustice (which I also love because I get to beat up Batman). There’s something refreshing by playing with someone like Hwarang and seeing moves that I learned in my own training. This is the only fighting game I have bought every iteration of and will probably keep buying.

Rcc
Guest
Rcc

This has always been a minor game in terms of mechanics for me (I’ve always preferred the SC or SF series for fighting games), and it’s as stale as month old biscuits. I’ll avoid it.

Moax
Guest
Moax

There are some large points that this review has missed.

Tekken no longer features character specific arcade ladders which end in a cut scene. They are now one off fights, in a separate game mode that is only unlocked after the story is complete.

Mini games are gone, no volley ball, no bowling and no side scrolling beat em up game (I can’t remember what it was called.)

SavingPrincess
Member

The problem with changing core fighting mechanics is that is exactly the OPPOSITE of what Tekken players want. I love that I can hop in with Askua, see what’s changed, (quite a bit, actually) and start playing vs. having to re-learn the system every single time. They tried changing up a ton of mechanics in Tekken Revolution, and it was TERRIBLE. I’m glad they went back closer to the TTT2 feel with juggles and bounds, etc. It’s SO hard to review a fighting game as a “video game.” Fighting Game fans/players are closer to sports fans than Madden players, because… Read more »

Anton
Guest
Anton

Shame about the SP story mode not being good. I’m nowhere near competent enough to have a decent time with MP in fighters, so if the SP is lacking I’m out.

Shame, I was rather looking forward to capitalizing on some nostalgia. My childhood friends and I had an amazing time with the original Tekken Tag on ps2; we were all equally terrible , though XD

Firenter
Guest
Firenter

Tekken 7 > 7/10

Tekken 11 > 11/10

Make it happen!

Sperium3000
Member

Sit down kids! It’s time for Sperium’s inane FGC thoughts! So the main difference in Tekken 7’s fight system to its direct predecessor, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, is that it’s more simple. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was “dumbed down”, but getting into Tag Tournament 2 was a bit of an herculean task for new players because of all the systems involved. You not only had to learn 2 characters (Or just 1 if you’re boring), but there were a lot of tag related mechanics, and combos had to be long and complex in order to… Read more »

hesadamntvshowhost
Guest
hesadamntvshowhost

to be honest, after injustice 2, tekken 7 just feels lacking, the story mode has its highs and lows, but i wished they removed the uninteresting reporter guy who IMO just ruins the experience, somehow tekken 7 managed to one up SFV in terms of character story battle(s), where SFV atleast had like 3 battles with text, Tekken 7 just has ONE freaking ONE battle and a ending that is basically shared with two characters, past tekken games were packed with content, this just feels like an afterthought.

Joe
Guest
Joe

The thing is with fighting games it’s very much a “choose your favourite” scenario.
They all work functionally really well, so it usually comes down to the style of play you are looking for.
I’ve always preferred Tekken’s system and honestly…I don’t really get the hype around Injustice, to me it’s just KI with DC skins, which is great if you love DC, but I don’t.
Regardless, I’m still looking forward to Tekken. 🙂

Sperium3000
Guest
Sperium3000

Uh, Laura, Rage Mode has been part of the Tekken series since Tekken 6. I think you meant Rage Arts/Rage Drives.

InfamousDS
Guest
InfamousDS

Seven out of ten?

SJW Conspiracy, Laura wants to take away our games about extremely controlled and skilled violence.

Stephen Mc Devitt
Guest
Stephen Mc Devitt

What do people mean by wanting innovation in Tekken? A close-up camera during combat like MK vs DC or one of those DEF JAM games? Multi-tier levels? QTEs? The closet Tekken to add something different a fundamental level is the non-flat stages and over-emphasis on parrying in Tekken 4 and the game wasn’t well liked for it.

I need everyone to be specific whenever they ask for innovation.

P.S. I don’t really like Street Fighter games ‘cus they don’t work with gamepads, the art style and characters are too cartoony and the content is really lacking for casual single players.

Hau_Ruck
Guest
Hau_Ruck

I think Tekken just accidentally screwed itself over when they made Tag Tournament which had a massive roster and had tagging. How can anyone go back to regular 1v1? And why would anyone buy a new street fighter when they still can’t beat Marvel vs Capcom 2? Both these types of fighters hit their peak years ago.

Peter Paizs
Member

Is the PC port any good? Since it’s the first Tekken game on the platform, and I haven’t played any since 4, I’d like to buy it, but I’d love to know more about how it runs.

Connormon Stephens
Member

Also posted in the Jimquisition FB group, but thought I’d post here as well; Okay that was unsurprising. I mean I’m going to love this game, more of the same + renewed competitive scene. But man really Tekken? NO changes? Means Tag Team 2 is still probably better to play at tourneys, just not on current gen consoles. Injustice 2 really did quite a nice job of it. Having core combat but spicing it up just enough to make it fresh till the next Netherrealm game. And a great story mode to boot. Made my expectations higher for T7. And… Read more »

Growlithe Ninedeenine
Member

Since people don’t usually realize this on Laura Kate posts to this site, this review wasn’t written by Jim, it was by Laura. That is all.

MyRetroRelapse
Member

I’m growing a little tired of Tekken, while its great to see it again I’m kind of board of the weird plots and odd characters I once found endearing.

Saygah
Member

So Paul and Law do finally get together then? Shouldn’t the above picture be tagged with a spoiler alert? ;op #unLAWfulentry #kingoftheironfisting

RougeMephilesClone
Guest
RougeMephilesClone

It’s likely that your core complaint is something that a lot of people would find as a good thing. Tekken, Soul Calibur, Dead or Alive, and Virtua Fighter are occupying a 3D niche that other fighting games, even indie games, aren’t trying to fill. There’s nothing wrong with refining something to a blazing sheen over many iterations, and Tekken’s been trying to get back to it’s heyday for over a decade. As for whatever the next entry is, would I like to see something new? Well, yeah, obviously. I’d never say “no” to that. What that would be though, I… Read more »

RattyCoda
Member

Great review, Laura! I loved Tekken as a kid, but it looks like I’ll be skipping this one in favor of Injustice 2.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Looking forward to getting this. Haven’t really given Tekken ago since Tekken 3!

Dragongelf
Member

But the real question is, is there still bowling? Because I always thought that bowling minigame was amazing in a weird, goofy way.