reviews\ Mar 7, 2005 at 7:00 pm

Tekken 5 - PS2 - Review

Every fighting game takes a fall. Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter, all of them. Some recover through massive changes, others don't recover at all. Fear of repetition, coupled with the demands of this highly competitive genre make it difficult for developers to stay in the same place.

Tekken took its fall with number four. I hate to bring up the past, but if you rented or purchased the game, chances are you know where I'm coming from. You're jaded, maybe even a little angry. You don't want to think about Tekken 5 and all the weird gameplay mechanics that might have been designed for it.

Namco didn't earn the title of most successful fighting-game developer because they didn't know what they were doing. Tekken 4 was disappointing, but it was an experiment that needed to be made. Namco needed to see that the series was right where it belonged. We shouted, they listened, and now we can let ourselves become fighting-game zombies once more with Tekken 5.

Is this classic Tekken or what?

Let's go over the facts:

  • No more eight-way run! (Classic side-step move takes its place.)

  • No more real-time endings (all are computer-generated and worth watching).

  • Several new moves to learn, with very few taken away (only a Tekken master will notice what's missing).

  • TONs of characters to choose from, both old and new (almost as many as Tekken Tag).

  • Incredible graphics engine that breathes new life into the console.

  • Infinite replay value.

You won't believe your fists! … er … thumbs, er … you won't believe anything. In a nutshell, Tekken 5 is the sequel to Tekken 3. Forget the fourth game exists. Namco certainly did. Very few Tekken 4 gameplay mechanics remain. Instead you get a game that plays just like Tekken 3 but with more intensity. The characters don't move any faster. When it comes down to it I'm not sure I'd want them to.

Namco still managed to increase the intensity by employing techniques used by filmmakers. For starters, each fighter looks meaner, tougher, and more realistic. Second, they appear to hit much harder than in the previous King of the Iron Fist tournaments. This effect is backed by the impressive number of new, highly-destructive environments. Glass floors can be cracked; statues can be destroyed; cement blocks will fly into the air if the character hits them hard enough. Walls can be used to corner your opponents, leaving him/her with fewer options.

They could fight back (if they're fast enough), or use a reversal of some kind (either to retaliate with an attack or to reverse character positions). Or they could end up getting combo’d so badly that they won't know what hit 'em. Most newbies will fall victim to this immediately. They'll also quickly pick up on it as an easy way to score wins. This move can be used to succeed while learning the ropes. Don't expect to use it forever though. It can be reversed, remember? And you can be certain that if you face someone like me (and you eventually will), your opponent will do everything possible to escape a trap.

Tekken: Devil Within

Ever since Namco introduced the first beat-'em-up-style mini-game, no Tekken game has been released without one. Tekken 5's mini-game, titled Devil Within, is the best yet. It's played from a third-person perspective (with 3D levels, mostly corridors). Jin Kazama is the star, and once his meter is full he can be transformed into the devil, increasing his strength and agility for a limited time.

The button layout is weird: only two buttons are set aside for attacking (square and X, which are punch and kick, respectively). Normally pressing up on the directional pad would make your character jump, but since this mini-game doesn't take place in a 2D environment, you need a specific button to jump. You also need one for guard, and I'm sure you can figure out why.

Devil Within is mostly repetitive and the enemies are usually cheap, but it's still more fun to play than all of Death by Degrees. Even those who disagree will want to play this mini-game because of the force gems awarded for good performance. These force gems are the equivalent of cash, which is awarded to winners of the standard game modes.

What can you get with all your loot? Items for your characters that slightly change their aesthetics, and in some cases, and entirely new outfit. This isn't something I go for – if the outfit is there I might select it just to have something different, but I never play specific parts of a game just to unlock a new piece of clothing. If you do, you'll love this. If not, it won't damage your love for the game one bit.

Tekken 5's visuals are simply incredible. It's hard to look at a PS2 game these days without rolling your eyes. You can try to roll your eyes at this game, but first you'll have to put them back in their sockets. The sun bouncing off buildings; the damage endured by the environments; the floating of feathers that seem to appear out of nowhere. It's like watching a beautiful anime movie come to life. The characters are more detailed than Tekken Tag and Tekken 4, but the backgrounds – that's what you and your friends will be talking about.

This is one of the most beautiful stages.

Like Default once said, it's Tekken my life away. In a matter of seconds I went from thinking, "man I hope it's good," to thinking, "it couldn't be much better!" I won't call it the perfect fighting game – that label was given to both Tekken 3 and Tekken Tag. Namco topped those. They'll do it again. For now, Tekken 5 is not only the King of the Iron Fist Tournament, it's also the king of the genre. And that's not because there's nothing else. There's plenty of competition, including Namco's own Soul Calibur 2. Tekken 5 trumps 'em all.

Review Scoring Details for Tekken 5

Gameplay: 9.6
Arcade-perfect gameplay from a game you’ve never seen in an arcade! It’s ironic, but that’s our society. Most people don’t like the stinky, dirty arcade atmosphere – they prefer the stinky, dirty atmosphere of their own bedroom. Thankfully this hasn’t stopped Namco from making Tekken 5, a game that is very close to being the best in the series. (I can’t really make the call until I’ve spent six months playing it.)

The controls and gameplay mechanics are identical to Tekken 3, and include many new nuances that only the diehard fans will be able to distinguish. You might be tempted to pass on all console games with the PSP’s release just a couple of weeks away, but don’t be so foolish: Tekken 5 is a PS2 exclusive. You won’t find anything comparable on the PSP, Nintendo DS, Xbox, GameCube, or anywhere else.

Graphics: 9.0
Gorgeous. Tekken 5 looks like a million bucks. It reminds me of the PSone’s fifth year, because that’s when we got to see the very best the console had to offer. We’re starting to see that with PS2 in its fifth year, the year that could be its Swan Song. More beauty is sure to come, but as far as fighting games go, it’s unlikely that anyone will top Namco until the next console war begins.

Sound: 8.6
Awesome, entertaining, and filled with an unusual amount of depth, Tekken 5's soundtrack is comparable to Tekken 3's stellar soundtrack, if not better. It doesn't sound as epic as Soul Calibur, but who cares – great music is great music.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard
If you look up "Caught Me Off Guard" in the videogame dictionary, you'll see my picture next to a copy of Tekken 5. The final boss is not only new, but he's also one of the fastest and cheapest adversaries you'll ever face. Just remember: if you can defeat him with ease, you're that much closer to defeating the real enemy: your friends.


Boss aside, Tekken 5 is anything but easy to master. The new moves add to the existing list of things to memorize and perfect.

Concept: 8.0
A new Tekken game that plays like Tekken, not Soul Calibur. Lots of new content. Tons of fighters. Endless love.

Multiplayer: 10
I’m obsessed. I’m obsessed. I’m obsessed.

“Mrs. Rauth, may I please go home now?”

“No Jimmy. You cut class to play Tekken 5 today. Now you’re going to fill that entire board or else I’ll call your parents and tell them how you decided to spend your afternoon.”

Jimmy puts down the chalk and walks away.

“Jimmy, get back in here or I’ll call your parents!”

“That’s alright. I was playing against my dad.”

Overall: 9.6
Too good for words, too memorable to forget, too addictive to ignore. Tekken 5 brings the series back to the glory days of the late 90s. I spent my life (literally) playing Tekken 3 and Tekken Tag, and I can't wait to stop writing so I can let Tekken 5 take their place.


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