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Tekken 4
PS2 Staff Review by Michael Brady

Now we have all been waiting patiently for the next generation of fighting games to be released. With Sega bringing Virtua Fighter 4 back to the home console market (exclusively for the PS2 may I add), developer Namco has been waiting in the wings for the hype of VF4 to die down. For nearly a year, we have been waiting for the new installment of Namco's killer fighter, Tekken 4! This series is one of the most popular fighters ever, easily! Although there have been comparisons between the two titles, they each offer unique elements that fighter game buffs will be sure to enjoy. The King of the Iron Fist Tournament is back with a vengeance, and promises to have a great story line to follow. The story is as follows, Heihachi was unable to apprehend the genetic material form the defeated Ogre in Tekken 3. His mission was to blend the Ogre gene with his own to become the most powerful fighter ever! After several attempts, he was not successful. He found out that he would need to acquire the carrier gene that is possessed by his son Kazuya, and his grandson Jin in order to meld it with his own. Therefore, the introduction of the King of the Iron Fist Tournament 4 is introduced to lure Jin and Kazuya back in order to have access to their carrier genes. Get ready fans for the action to begin, with all the new changes that is expected for the latest installment, the action promises to be hot!

The Tekken series is by far one of the most popular 3D fighters in history. With the latest installment as expected, we are going to see many new changes. The first improvement is in the graphics. As you will, notice that the character models seemed to have improved compared to Tekken Tag Tournament. The interesting thing about all of this is that the developers have actually reduced the amount of polygons per character. That is a great innovation in the field of developing video games. It seems like the developers at Namco have found interesting methods to achieve this as the characters are more detailed than the last game. The arenas in Tekken 4 are bigger than the last game. The levels are far more interactive as well. You are now able to use the environment to your advantage, take for example, if you are losing a match and you have the opportunity to pin an opponent to the wall and wreak havoc to turn the match to your favor! Great move Namco. The levels are also multi leveled, you must examine the level you are fighting in, if you are fighting an opponent on an up hill grade then you may need to change your strategy of moves to become effective in the fight. Objects in the arenas also take damage as you are able to hit opponents into them, and they inflict more damage upon you or your opponent as well. The levels also look highly detailed as well so eye candy fans will be happy with the perfect arcade to home translation in this title.

The gameplay in Tekken 4 has changed as well, no longer are you forced to learn ten hit combos in order to become a true master. This game allows more strategic methods to winning matches. The characters now move in complete 360 degree 3D motion. You must learn all your favorite character's moves, also you must learn the advantages and disadvantages of the stages. Compared to the last installment the reversals and grab combos have been toned down drastically. No longer will someone's cheesy approach to fighting determine the outcome. The translation from the commands on the joypad to the on screen action is seamless. There are no types of delays seen here. A new implementation that has been added is the position change buttons. You are now able to switch the position of yourself or an opponent, so if you see that someone your playing cannot perform moves from the left or right side then switch them around to gain the upper hand. Now there are a lot of comparisons between VF4 and Tekken 4, but each have their own interesting attributes that will appeal to all fighter fans. Tekken as you have noticed is different from VF4, it is more of a rythymatic based fighting game. As you learn your character's moves, you may also notice that you must learn the rhythm that you character has. Also as the combos and other advanced moves are preformed buttons must be hit in a certain sequence to pull them off. With VF4, it is very different. The training mode in Tekken is good, however not as great as VF4. With the AI character training in VF4, Tekken does slightly lose in this department. However, Namco has brought back the Tekken Force Mode to the new series. In this mode, you are able to fight the Mishima Zaibatsu force and take them down with any character of your choice. For those fans that are new to the series, it plays like Double Dragon but Tekken style in a 3D environment. You are able to do all the moves in the game in this mode. I thought this was a great addition to the game because it makes the story line more interesting for some characters. For example, Jin's story line dictates that the Mishima Zaibatsu force eventually captures him, so you are able to play this mode and take revenge. The characters have also been leveled out in terms of abilities, strengths and weaknesses. So if you learn any character in the game, you will be able to be great if you learn what moves should be used for certain situations. There are also four new fighters in this game, Steve Fox ( boxer ), Craig Marduk ( Vale Tudo ), Christie Monteiro ( Capoeira ), and Miharu Hirano ( Martial Arts ). Therefore, fans of this genre will be happy to see the new characters and what they have to bring to the tournament.

The sound in this game is great, the music that represents each level seems to have been tailor made to bring the mood to the scene. The voice acting in this game has also been beefed up, the ending story sequences offer great voice work, and all the scenes have voice acting. The voices that have been provided for each character are a great reflection of the characters. Just listen how Craig Marduk intimidates his opponents as he gets ready for battle. Namco has done better, here than previous Tekken titles, great job guys, you have made the story line that much greater! My only question is "When is the movie coming out?"

Gamers that were huge fans of the Tekken series will definitely enjoy the new installment, however they may notice that not much has been changed to the series on a whole. New fans will definitely appreciate the different elements that Tekken 4 has now put into the game. But to fans that have played it for years may grow tired sooner than later, regardless this game is a blockbuster title and it should be in all PS2 fans collections, especially if they like fighting titles.

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