Tekken-Tag-Tournament-2.jpg Copyright: Namco Bandai Games

In this week’s Red Bull Gaming Blog, Glen Ferris discovers if Tekken Tag Tournament 2 can revitalise an ailing genre...

Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Fighting games are a bit like print media. When we were growing up, they were all we had and all we needed. Now, their popularity is on the wane and, despite the occasional critical hit, it seems nothing can stop their slow and inexorable decline.

Namco Bandai, however, seem determined to halt this downward spiral by releasing only the second dedicated tag team game in their long and storied history.

Since Street Fighter IV momentarily reignited public interest in the beat 'em up genre, little else has come along to blow off the cobwebs of an increasingly staid genre. Sure Street Fighter X Tekken made a good fist of it earlier this year but that was little more than a curio melding two gaming giants together into one title. What gamers want is an honest-to-goodness classic and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is the closest we've come for quite some time.

You see, the double-team sequel knows just what fight fans want from their games: Old-school controls wrapped up in a lovely-looking HD package, giving the impression of a faithful friend given a next-gen makeover.  

nullCopyright: Namco Bandai Games

As the title makes obvious, the game involves two teams of two fighters kicking seven shades of pixels out of each other – although you can adjust the handicap so that it’s 2 v 1 or one-on-one if you want to shake things up a bit. The tag team gameplay is hardly a new concept but Tekken Tag Tournament 2 does it in style and with some impressive refinements.

As you would expect from one of the elder statesmen of fighting games, there are an eye-bleeding assortment of combos and moves, many of them involving your on-screen partner. With the emphasis on learning moves rather than bashing buttons, the learning curve at times can be rather steep, but the by-now-traditional tutorial and practise modes have been brilliantly simplified to allow casual gamers to get swiftly up to speed. This is a particularly wise move because once you’re in the fight, things move at such a blistering pace that you’ll be grateful for the dry runs – nobody likes a complete smackdown on their first try!

The huge selection of moves on offer keeps you on your toes, while the quasi-realistic characters (giant panda notwithstanding) and their vaguely physics-based moves makes this play much more like a fight sim than a straightforward beat ‘em up.

With over 50 characters to choose from and a massive online community offering up an on-going series of tournaments, this game promises some serious longevity. Sure the story mode is limited but this kind of thing has always been more about the variety of punching and kicking than the search for revenge and resolution.

Slick and accessible but resolutely and endearingly time-honoured, whether or not Tekken Tag Tournament 2 can halt the demise of the fighting game remains to be seen, but it will at least serve as a reminder of why we fell in love with the genre in the first place.

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