Monday, November 25, 2013

Tekken Revolution - Review

Look at this! I'm reviewing another console game for a change! But anyway...

F2P gaming has always held close ties to PC gaming. Ever since its early iterations that started way back in the early 90s, F2P gaming has exploded and is now considered to be one of the most preferred ways of monetizing an online game.

Now the F2P market is starting to expand over to the console gaming market, and with Namco Bandai being one of the first to take advantage of this untapped territory by creating a F2P version of one of their flagship title: Tekken.

Tekken Revolution marks the first game in the franchise to be made into a F2P title, and promises to stay as deep and complex as its predecessors while being more accessible to new players. However, it seems that they skimped too much on the “free” aspect of F2P, and instead provided a game that feels more like a glorified demo of their previous Tekken titles.


The control scheme for Tekken Revolution makes use of button layout that’s based on the fighter’s limbs: Square for left punch, Triangle for right punch, Cross for left kick and Circle for right kick. When pressed in different sequences, players can perform a large array of different attacks, combos, juggle launchers, grabs and counters. The input window for executing these attacks are very short, so players will have to be very quick and precise with their inputs, otherwise they’ll find themselves executing the wrong attack at the worst possible time. Movement is handled using the direction pad or the left analog stick. With it, players perform different high, mid and low attacks, sidestep out of harm’s way, crouch to duck and dodge certain attacks and more. While the controls are easy into for anyone to jump in and mash away, learning the nuances of control system will help players greatly in a fight.

Combat in Tekken Revolution stays true to its predecessors by emphasizing combo and juggle heavy mechanics. While players can choose to keep their foes on the ground, launching and juggling enemies in the air is the most effective way to disable opponents while maximizing damage. Performing juggles takes a considerable amount of practice and skill, and once players get the rhythm down, they’re oh so satisfying when pulled off correctly.

As mentioned before, some gameplay changes have been made in order to make Tekken Revolution more accessible to newer players. First off: the rebound mechanic from Tekken 6 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 has been removed, so players can no longer scoop enemies off the ground in order to continue their juggles. With this change, what you get is gameplay that feels a lot closer to Tekken 5, where combos are short and sweet.


To replace the rebound mechanic, they’ve introduced “Special Arts” which are powerful moves with a small period of invincibility on startup. While these attacks are supposedly punishable on block, it can be somewhat difficult in order to retaliate with a counter attack, especially when there’s high latency during online matches. Special Art attacks can be abused far too easily, and due to the game’s lack of a tutorial that explains to newcomers that there’s more varied moves at their disposal, newcomers will be convinced to use these attacks as much as possible, and the system certainly doesn't help when even high ranking players will occasionally abuse them.


Also added to the mix is a new Critical Arts mechanic where players will randomly inflict extra damage on opponents from performing powerful attacks. This mechanic does not hamper down the overall gameplay too much, but with random luck being thrown into the mix, serious fighting game fans will consider Tekken Revolution to be less of a competitive game compared to previous titles.

Despite the abuse special arts and critical arts, the gameplay retains the same limb-based combat that fans have come to expect, but players that are new to the series will may have a difficult time trying to wrap their heads around the mechanics.

Tekken Revolution is very limited in the way of playable game modes, which will make the entire package seem like a watered-down version of their previous titles. Three modes included in Tekken Revolution include Arcade, Player Match and Ranking Match. Arcade mode allows you to fight against CPU opponents. Ranking match sets players up against live opponents from all over the world while fighting to increase player ranks. Player matches allow players to set up their own lobbies to fight against players without affecting their ranks. Play time for each of these modes is dictated by the game’s coin and ticket system.

Players are given a set number of coins that can be used to play each mode of the game, and once the player runs out of these coins, they’ll either have to wait for them to replenish, or purchase premium coins from the Playstation Store. For players that wish to forgo paying for premium coins, they will only be able to enjoy Tekken Revolution in small bursts, as coins can be depleted very quickly, despite one coin being replenished every 30 minutes. While it is possible that players can earn premium tickets from winning ranked matches (which can be used the same way as regular or premium coins), it does very little to encourage newcomers to get better at the game, and winning multiple fights in a row can be easier said than done.


This is one aspect of Tekken Revolution that fails as a F2P game, as their obvious target audiences is aimed towards newcomers to the series and newcomers to the fighting game genre in general. This could have easily been rectified by including a tutorial to allow players to get acclimated, but the closest thing they've provided as tutorial is a practice arena called “Warm-up space”. This mode allows players to practice their moves without spending coins or tickets, but with no access to proper attack data or confirmations for performing moves correctly, it’s not very useful for teaching newcomers how to play properly. Instead, newcomers will have to enlist into the School of Hard Knocks and battle against players that may or may not already be experts at the game. Since the series has been around for quite some time, there will be several chances that you’ll be face against heavily skilled players during ranked matches, even though some of them will appear to have low ranks, just as any newcomer would, so you’ll never really know who you’re up against until the match is underway.

Player matches allows players to join or set up their own lobbies for competition against players around the world, and it comes complete with quality control options such as limiting the kinds of players that can join. Players can also spectate and comment on matches using voice chat, USB or digital keyboard. It’s easy enough to host your own lobby for friends and rivals to participate in, but if players end up joining lobbies before the matches are underway, they’ll end up having to sit and wait around with nothing but a small chat room in front of them, as Tekken Revolution does not allow late-joiners to spectate matches whatsoever.
And the Arcade Mode is just as it sounds: Players can use arcade coins, premium or coins or premium tickets to participate in matches against the CPU. While newcomers will have a much easier time getting into the game through arcade mode matches, it still pales in comparison to live completion.

For the first time ever in the series, Tekken Revolution introduces an RPG-style progression system in the form of Character Enchantments. Now each character has three stats that can be increased by earning skill points and fight money from matches. These stats include Power for increasing raw attack damage, Endurance which increases your health meter and Vigor which increases the chance of landing a critical hit or entering a “Rage” state when your character is low on health. This system helps to create more varied match ups within the game’s limited roster of characters, as well as make mirror matches more distinct.


Besides from the option to purchase special attack effects from the store, there isn't much else available in the form of customization, which is surprising when you consider the amount of customization that’s available in previous Tekken titles, such as being able to customization your character’s hair, outfit and even give them weapons that can be used in battle. Namco Bandai missed a golden opportunity to include the same kind of customization into Tekken Revolution, and they could have earned money on the game in a far more sensible way.

At first glance, many would assume that Tekken Revolution is a carbon copy of their recent titles, and it is true to a certain extent as many assets from the previous games were directly brought over, but it does have some subtle differences such as the visuals on the character models themselves. Characters now have brighter, solid textures and a thin outline to give them a more cel-shaded look, and it doesn't look too shabby. Everything else regarding Tekken Revolution’s presentation was borrowed directly from Tekken Tag Tournament 2, including the interface, menus, stages and most of the game’s music.


The game’s current cast of 22 different characters, each of which hail from different entries in the Tekken series, are all brimming with style and personalities. It’s just unfortunate that their personalities do not shine as much as they do in previous titles, since the game features no story mode or cutscenes, so newcomers will have no ideas about any of their character's' goals and ambitions.

The Tekken community is mostly filled with players that have been around since the very beginning of the series, are very well versed with each title in the series and some of which are happy to help newcomers learn how to play, but for the most part, the community is ruthless against anyone that can’t hold their own in a fight, so don’t expect many of them to take it easy on you.

As mentioned, community features include access to PSN friends list, messaging and more, so if you can hold your own against others, don’t be surprised if you find salty hate mail waiting in your PSN inbox every now and then.

To its core, Tekken Revolution lives up to its predecessors in terms of gameplay and style, but still fails heavily as a F2P marketed game by making the F2P part so limited, although the game is still ever expanding and gaining more features through updates. While newcomers may get some enjoyment out of it, Tekken Revolution is more enjoyable for fans of the series that want to get their Iron Fist action for cheap, but even still, just purchasing a copy of Tekken 6 or Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is still a better option.

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