As Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat duke it out on the 2D fighting landscape for the crown, with a host of other games trying to claw themselves into the ring, Tekken 8 seems to have swept in out of nowhere, bringing the 3D fighter back in style with an excellent release after a very long time.
Back is the complex storyline and its muscled up fighting roster featuring a giant fighting bear, a panda, a cyborg and a mechanised space ninja. Which may seem pretty standard fare for fighting games today, but Tekken 8 has a lot more going for it, under its shiny new surface.
Heihachi Mishima is dead, at the hands of his son Kazuya, and the cycle continues as Kazuya’s son, Jin Mishima, stands between him and global domination. As the new head of G Corporation, and with the power of the Mishima bloodline pumping through his veins, Kazuya holds the world hostage, and the only way for countries to stave off destruction is to compete in the King of the Iron Fist competition. The contest is how Kazuya aims to control world powers, thus setting the stage for this new chapter in Tekken.
The story mode is impressive, unfolding with an all-out battle between father and son that spills across New York’s Times Square. Slowly introducing a new roster of characters, each with mysterious ambitions of their own, as well as bringing back recurring characters, takes the roster up to 32.
The story mainly focuses on Jin’s struggle — to not only win the tournament, but also keep in control the demon powers within. However, you do get to play as other characters as well, as you proceed through the tournament.
Among the new characters, one that stands out most is the mysterious Reina, a teenage fighter that seems to display Heihachi’s devil powers. The other is the impeccably dressed Victor Chevalier, a French war veteran with surprising abilities. The Cyborg Jack-8 is back with a new series of powers and to round it off is the Peruvian fighter Azucena, a mixed martial artiste who uses an evasive style of fighting. All of the returning characters sport new looks and enhanced movesets as well.
With over-the-top visuals and screen-filling attacks, the story mode acts as an appetiser to get you into different modes. Unlike Street Fighter, which locks you down on a 2D plane, even though the characters are 3D, Tekken has always opened up the complete arena for easy movement and depth.
It is refreshing to see how the mechanics have evolved and yet feel familiar, both snappy and fluid. Tekken 8 however, switches things up to a whole new level once things go into heat.
While that last sentence construction may sound weird, the “Heat” state could be described as a fighting flow, attained by a more aggressive fighting stance. In this state, fighters unlock new movesets, cause more damage and chip damage to blocking opponents, forcing them to engage.
You also get heat dashes and special heat smashes to wreak damage. In heat mode, if you undergo damage, you can quickly recover that health back by switching to an aggressive fighting stances. This mode brings an excellent element of strategy to every fight, forcing you to be in the fighting flow during a match to gain the upper hand.
Once the story is done, it is easy to drop off if you are a single player. With Tekken 8 however, the arcade mode has a variety of play options, but the ones that standout are the training modes. A robust Arcade Quest online mode throws you into a coin op paradise with lots of opportunities and tips to learn your characters movesets and practice them. Tekken 8 has really captured that arcade flair well with their online implementation that can keep you playing and practicing for hours.
It goes without saying that this new, unreal engine powered Tekken looks gorgeous, with very cinematic cutscenes that even extend into the playable arenas. Punches, kicks and power moves radiate energy and power, making everything tactile and exciting. With screen filling moves that seem to really engage the camera, Tekken 8 is an incredible evolution of the 3D fighter, while keeping the spirit of its roots alive.
Tekken 8 is a much needed jump into the Mishima family drama once more, with a larger than life roster of colourful characters, a new battle system to master in that same friendly and familiar Tekken shell we all know and love; it is a flawless victory.
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Price: ₹4.799 on Playstation 5, Xbox Series X | S and PC