Review: Tekken Revolution Succeeds with the Free-to-Play formula
The free-to-play gaming market is thriving. We're already seeing a number of games on the PC market taking advantage of the format, and console games are getting into the act as well, with Microsoft's Happy Wars leading the charge and Nintendo giving Steel Diver a chance later this year. In the middle of the two, however, is Tekken Revolution, Namco's attempt to get into the free-to-play action. And while it shouldn't be confused with such premium releases as Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and SoulCalibur V, it's actually quite good if you're on a budget.
The game consists of three main modes – an Arcade mode, an online Ranked mode, and an online Player mode. Ranked matches are the tougher of the two, but both it and Player are great when it comes to learning what players are about – whether they're skilled or cheap as hell – and you can connect to a match rather easily. To make sure your time isn't wasted, you'll also be able to practice against an AI opponent while you wait.
Where the free-to-play format comes in is through tokens, which can be spent to start up Online or Arcade matches. You get two Arcade tokens and five Online matches every couple of hours, and they fill up again in that time frame. If you choose, you can use additional tickets to buy extra play time, either by earning them in fights or buying them through the PlayStation Store. The pricing is rather fair, giving you plenty of coins for a few bucks, but, honestly, if you wanted, you could get through an evening's worth of the game without spending a dime. You just have to go slow with it.
The game features eight fighters at the start, with more that can be unlocked over the course of matches, and while that dwindles in comparison to full-price releases, it's a genuinely good offering for a freebie. Favorites like Kazuya, King and Lee are fun to play with, and if your favorite isn't immediately available, they will be.
For good measure, you also earn XP over the course of each match, as well as a step up – or down – in ranking, depending how well you do. This XP can be applied in three areas – Power, Endurance and Vigor – to make your fighter better overall. This is a nice addition to the game considering its free-to-play nature, and it strives you to keep on fighting, even if you have to drop a few bucks to do so.
The online fighting works quite well, and there was a decent crowd of fighters in the lobby when we hopped on for our sessions. Again, their fighting style waivers, but it really teaches you to become better with your brawler. If you need a good place to start, go with Lee or King. Both are agile and able to nail opponents with some good, quick power moves.
Where Tekken Revolution takes a slight turn compared to other games is in its presentation. The sound is okay, consisting of some decent tunes and sound effects, but the graphics aren't as good as Tekken Tag Tournament 2. The animations are solid, and some of the backgrounds look excellent, but the textures are a bit uglier if you get an up-close look. There also aren't any cinematics to speak of, a move made by Namco to fit the game into its 1.8 GB download size – and probably to entice gamers to still invest in the full-price Tekken affairs. No biggie.
While Tekken Revolution is hardly the gem of the series – we miss tagging in a partner – it's a definite step forward in Namco's free-to-play movement, which will continue on later this year with the PS3-exclusive Ridge Racer Driftopia. Its system is fair and just, the online fighting is as ferocious as ever, and the level-up meters are ingenious, even if it takes you a good chunk of time to really get somewhere in strength. If this is the future of the console free-to-play market, it's definitely looking up.