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Tekken 8 Review

It’s a good time to be a fighting game fan. In the space of less than a year we’ve had what is perhaps the best Street Fighter game ever made, a solid entry in the Mortal Kombat series, and now we’ve got a new Tekken. That’s new entries for all three heavy hitters in the genre, then. And like Street Fighter 6 and Mortal Kombat 1, Tekken 8 doesn’t disappoint.

Tekken 8 doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it leverages the power of the latest consoles and PC to deliver what is the best-looking fighting game to date, as well as the most dramatic. But that’s not to say that there aren’t meaningful changes under the hood. This is the smoothest and fastest Tekken game to date, making every fight a joy.

And thanks to a new heat system, players are encouraged to be aggressive. Enable heat mode and players are able to dish out more pain for a short period of time. Even better, they’re also able to make use of special heat attacks which, aside from looking flashy, deal out a decent amount of damage.

Ultimately, when you’re playing Tekken 8, you get the sense that accessibility has been the focus here. Enabling heat mode and making use of special heat attacks are both performed with the right shoulder button by default, making them a cinch. Rage Arts – essentially super combos that you can only use when you’re low on health – are equally easy to make use of: you just need to pull the right trigger. And if you tap the left shoulder button at any point, you enter a simplified combat mode in which the face buttons perform certain types of attacks rather then simply left or right punches or kicks.

Tekken 8 review
Image: Bandai Namco

Whether you’re a fighting game pro or an absolute newcomer, then, you can soon be racking up wins in Tekken 8 without simply mashing buttons – though that might work as well. But it doesn’t come at the expense of any depth. While it’s easier to pick up and play Tekken 8 than any other Tekken game, it pays to master its mechanics and learn the ins and out of its characters. Do that, and you’ll still run rings around someone that hasn’t.

Related: The Best Fighting Games on PS5

And this leads us onto another of Tekken 8’s strengths: its breadth of content. There’s something for everyone here, truly. Story mode attempts to make sense of the entire Tekken history so far, focusing on the epic battle between Jin Kazama and Kazuya Mishima. Each chapter sandwiches ferocious battles between outlandish story scenes, with the odd quick time event and unique gameplay quirk thrown in for good measure. It’s ridiculous, for sure, but entertaining nonetheless. And it’s backed up with additional stories for each one of the game’s combatants, making for a considerable time-sink overall.

Outside of Story Mode, there’s the obligatory Arcade, Versus and Training modes, as well as a second meaty single-player mode called Arcade Quest. Here, after making your very own avatar, you visit virtual arcades and engage in battles to raise your rank and progress the story. Challenge players that have chests over their heads and you can unlock new goodies such as character customisation items. It’s a neat addition, which also leads to another mode being made available: Super Ghost Battle. This is where you can take on the AI ghosts of players you’ve met online, the development team and more.

Tekken 8 review
Image: Bandai Namco

On the online multiplayer front, Tekken 8 features a lobby system that’s similar to that of Street Fighter 6, allowing players to interact with others and match up via sitting at cabinets and suchlike. It’s just a shame that there isn’t much to do on the side – some cabinets letting players waste some time with classic Bandai Namco titles would have been nice. Some will appreciate the atmosphere that it creates, however. In any case, you can initiate matchmaking for Ranked and Casual fights right from the main menu if you wish, spending time in practice while waiting for a match to be found, which you can then review in case you’re not happy with the connection or any other reason.

Thanks to rollback netcode, most online matches play out without any trouble, even when fighting against players across the world using a wireless connection. We have had the odd fight where lag has caused some major issues, however, making fighting a painful affair. With that in mind, players might want to make sure they have the maximum connection strength when seeking out fights to make sure they’re free of any issues.

Considering the modes on offer, and the fact that Tekken 8 launches with a roster of 32 fighters right from the off, it’s hard to not consider it rather generous. Three of those characters are brand new, and they prove to be some of the most interesting characters on the roster. Azucena, a mixed martial artist from Peru, is quick on her feet, and loves to promote her family’s coffee whenever she can. Then there’s Victor, a war veteran and super spy who is deadly at close range but also makes use of teleportation and ranged weapons to put pressure on those at a distance, too. But the best of the new bunch is undoubtedly Reina, a mysterious teenager who practices Mishima Style karate; there’s just something about her energy that you can’t help but like.

Tekken 8 lobby
The Tekken 8 lobby. Image: Bandai Namco

Even the returning characters here have undergone some changes. Many of them now appreciably look older, such as Paul. And some have had their movesets considerably tweaked. Needless to say, it’s fun trying them all out, seeing who you gel with and who you don’t. And while there are some absent faces we’re disappointed about, such as Lei Wu Long, it’s hard to complain on the whole. Besides, more characters are set to be added as DLC, and there’s bound to be more than one season.

When it comes to disappointments, there are little to none. Tekken Ball isn’t a patch on Tekken Bowling in our opinion, but others may disagree. Other than that, our only other minor complaint is that the dramatic camera can be a little much at times. Perform an impressive counter or something else noteworthy and you’ll find the camera zooming in and time slowing down for dramatic effect. For the most part it adds to the action, adding tension and drama to battles, but every once in a while you might find it a little distracting and intrusive.

Taking into consideration its wealth of content and aggressive combat system, it’s clear that Tekken 8 is one of the best fighting games around. With its numerous single-player modes and online offerings, there’s something here for everyone. And its character roster should be applauded for its depth and variety. Above all, though, Tekken 8 succeeds because it’s simply such good fun to play. Stunning visuals work with its clever camera to inject battles with genuine drama. And thanks to more accessibility options than ever, more players can have fun whether they’re a seasoned pro or an absolute newcomer.

Tekken 8 Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Tekken 8 is based on the P55 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

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