The new game of TEKKEN series gathers positive feedback from gamers and high marks from game critics, who call the fighting game almost the gold standard of the genre. We decided to see for ourselves if TEKKEN 8 is really that good, played it, and now we are ready to share our impressions in the review.
- Developer: Bandai Namco Studios Inc.
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Release Date: January 26, 2024
Although the story in fighting games, for the most part, is just a primer before moving on to online battles, in TEKKEN 8 it should not be ignored. The story campaign here is really impressive, as the scope of what is happening on the screen, and the intensity of emotions around the main characters.
And the developers gracefully avoid the temptation to reboot the universe, as do the authors of the Mortal Kombat series: the story in TEKKEN lasts for three decades, and if you did not know or forgot about the causes of the conflict, TEKKEN 8 will kindly remind you of the backstory of events in a series of short videos that can be played in a separate menu.
This time around, Kazuya Mishima and Jin Kazama take center stage: the former gains unprecedented power and seeks to gain dominion over the world, while the latter tries to reconcile with his “dark” side in order to defeat the villain. These characters are given far more screen time than the others, which is actually a bit of a shame considering that the remaining characters, many of them far more interesting than the one-dimensional Jin and Kazuya, are forced to hang out somewhere in the background, only occasionally getting their moment of glory.
That said, there’s no complaining about boredom during the story portion of TEKKEN 8. The game breaks the usual fighting game structure “cut-scene – fight – cut-scene”, and then includes the player “cinzo” for half an hour, or introduces a powerful opponent in the middle of the campaign, when you don’t expect it, or even refuses to fight in the arena, offering to fight against several opponents at the same time. The final battle consists of many phases with dramatic “what a twist”, where the protagonist several times finds himself on the verge of death. The campaign lasts only four hours, but it gives bright emotions and does not make you regret the time spent.
If you want to learn more about other fighters, the game has special “Character Episodes” dedicated to each of TEKKEN 8’s heroes. They are quite short and don’t carry much meaning, but they allow you to learn the fighting techniques of the participants, get acquainted with their characters and biographies. An optional, but not boring activity.
In addition, completing episodes, as well as the story campaign, gives you the opportunity to get rewards in the form of combat money (in-game currency) and customization items. With their help you can personalize the player’s profile and customize the character’s appearance in detail. And the game surprises here too: it contains a lot of unlockable (not for real money, as it is fashionable nowadays, but for in-game currency) items that allow you to transform fighters beyond recognition. The Internet is full of videos with examples: players create heroes from other game universes, copy their appearance – in general, have fun as they can.
You can show off your awesome avatar in the TEKKEN Lounge, a hub where players gather to socialize, make friends, and find opponents for fights. The living room is divided into several areas where you can change outfits, practice, learn about your opponents’ skill levels, and so on. Meanwhile, TEKKEN 8 doesn’t make you go to the hub to play online – if you want, you can start selecting opponents right from the main menu, and there are ranked and quick play available, as well as your own customizable matches.
And there’s plenty to play for: the roster has more than three dozen characters, and the list includes not only veterans who appeared in almost all parts of the TEKKEN series, but also newcomers, such as Reina, who is the heir to one of the classic fighters, partially adopts his techniques, and also brings something of her own. Her fighting style welcomes an aggressive approach to the opponent, so the girl will suit players who don’t like to sit in defense. And this is not the only new participant of the tournament – we suggest to get acquainted with the rest of the guests so as not to spoil the intrigue.
Other characters, though familiar to longtime fans of the series, were given the opportunity to use some new game mechanics. First of all, this is Heat, a strip under the health bar, which can be spent once per round either on combos unique to each fighter or on a special powerful ability that empties the entire charge at once, but does a lot of damage. With Heat, the player can counter the opponent’s pressure, take the initiative in battle, and establish control over the arena. At the same time, it is not an ultimatum ability, as the character remains vulnerable to counterattacks and can waste a Heat charge if he fails to use it wisely.
Another interesting option – in TEKKEN 8 you can regain some of the lost health if you counterattack your opponent in time. And with a low level of health, the character gets a bonus to the strength of the blow and defense, and can also hold a special super trick and cause the enemy a lot of damage. This makes the gameplay less predictable and makes you stay focused until the very end of the round: even an almost defeated player has a chance to turn the situation in his favor. That’s why online matches become especially entertaining – the outcome of the fight is hard to predict.
At the same time, the game can’t be called complicated. It’s quite easy to master it, and you don’t even have to memorize complex combinations to play with friends – you can always rely on luck and kick your opponent with good old-fashioned batton mashing. Although for more efficiency, of course, you should memorize a couple or three combos. In a network game there is a risk of running into an experienced opponent, so it is advisable to spend some time learning and practicing. But you probably understand this without our advice.
The developers started to create TEKKEN 8 on Unreal Engine 4, but in the process moved to Unreal Engine 5. And it did the game good: the models are impressively detailed, and the arenas delight with their dynamics: for example, on Fallen Destiny the wind gusts flutter elements of characters’ clothes, and a tanker caught in a storm falls apart, which gradually nails to the shore. The soundtrack is great, but the battle sounds are far from perfect, reminding of slapstick from 80s action movies.
The network code is very good: the game finds opponents for battle in a matter of moments, and during the match we never once experienced connection drops, problems with team registration and other issues. That’s a big deal for a game that requires millisecond accuracy to track moves and strikes, and it’s nice to see that Bandai Namco Studios has thoroughly tweaked the online component of the title.
TEKKEN 8 right now is one of the best fighting games for everyone. Beginners here will find an interesting story, not boring arcade mode and character roster, which has fighters, perfect for those who are not strong in such fighters. Professionals will be pleased with the rating system and a large assortment of techniques, thanks to which you can become a real master of the arena. Here you can spend hours on customizing your hero or jump into the online “quick game” to play a couple of fights and go about your business. It’s not a revelation for the genre, but it’s a very good game that will surely become a favorite fighting game for many.
- Exciting story campaign
- Tweaked network code
- Impressive character roster
- Gameplay innovations are in favor of dynamics
- Detailed arenas
- Beautiful visuals
- Perfect optimization
- Some characters are given too little time in the plot
- Sound design is not perfect